Washington E-Bulletin - February 2013

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Vol. 2013, Issue 02

A Look Ahead

Federal Budget Season Begins
Though expected to arrive late this year, President Obama’s budget proposal will be sent to Congress in February, officially beginning budget season on Capitol Hill. The president’s budget is an extensive proposal of the administration's intended spending and revenue plans for all federal executive departments and independent agencies in Fiscal Year 2014, which begins on October 1.

This year’s budget process is bound to be a complicated one. With Congress still not settled on final spending levels for the current fiscal year, the government is operating on a stopgap appropriation that expires March 27. That means that in addition to the upcoming sequestration and debt limit negotiations, Congress must still appropriate money to continue funding the government through September 2013.

The current situation notwithstanding, the federal budget is traditionally shaped by a linear process in the House and Senate. Within six weeks of the President’s budget submission, congressional committees are required to submit their “views and estimates” of spending and revenues within their respective jurisdictions to the House and Senate Budget Committees. In turn, each Budget Committee will collect information and testimony to draft and report a concurrent resolution on the budget to its respective house. Congress will then adopt a budget resolution, representing an agreement between the House and Senate concerning the overall size of the federal budget. Discretionary spending programs go on to face the appropriations process. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are organized into 12 subcommittees, each of which is responsible for developing an appropriations bill.  Typically, the full House begins consideration of the regular appropriations bills in May or June, passing most by the summer recess. Regular appropriations bills are generally reported to the full Senate in May or June and the full Senate begins passing the bills in June or July and continues into the fall. Once reported, the bills are brought to the floor, providing an opportunity for members to propose floor amendments. Once passed by both chambers, the bills must be conferenced and agreed to before heading to the President’s desk. If the appropriations process is not completed by the October 1, as was the case in 2012, Congress may pass a “continuing resolution” to continue funding the government for a short period of time.

Though complicated, the budget process provides many opportunities for AALL member involvement, some as simple as letting your members of Congress know which programs reflect your priorities! Each Congress, AALL works to support the budget requests of those agencies which promote and provide access to government information, including the Government Printing Office (GPO), Library of Congress (LC), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), among others.

We’ll need your help influencing the budget in coming months. Learn more about the federal budget and appropriations process at our upcoming February online advocacy training (details below) – and get ready to share your budget priorities with your legislators!

Act Now

“Making Sense of the Federal Budget Process” Online Training Feb. 27
Does the federal budget process seem like an insiders’ game? You don’t have to be a policy wonk to understand the budget cycle and its impact on libraries! Join the Government Relations Office for a 30 minute advocacy training on February 27 to learn about the budget process and how you can make a difference for libraries and your community. We’ll help demystify the budget process by answering questions like: How does the budget process work? Is there a timeline for appropriations bills? What’s the difference between discretionary and mandatory spending?

Register now for the complimentary Government Relations Office online advocacy training on Wednesday, February 27 from 12:00-12:30pm EST. Director of Government Relations Emily Feltren and Public Policy Associate Elizabeth Holland will walk you through the twists and turns of the federal budget process and help you understand where your voice is most needed.

This training is available at no additional cost for AALL members and chapter members. Please register by February 25.

AALL in the States

AALL Members and Chapters at Work on UELMA
Five states have introduced the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) so far in 2013. They are Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and North Dakota. Building on our success in California and Colorado in 2012, the GRO continues to work closely with AALL chapters and members to support enactment in the states. We expect introductions in up to a dozen additional states.

The Government Relations Office (GRO) has created a 2013 UELMA Bill Tracking Chart to trace the progress of these bills and will update the chart as UELMA is introduced in other states. More information on the act and how you can help is available on our UELMA Resources page.

CALL Releases “Librarian’s Guide for Non-Lawyers”
The Chicago Association of Law Libraries (CALL) Government Relations Committee is pleased to announce the publication of Finding Illinois Law: A Librarian’s Guide for Non-Lawyers. Recognizing that legal research is a specialized skill practiced by attorneys and law librarians, but that the general public often has a need to locate and understand legal information, the Committee presents this guide as a tool to aid non-lawyers. The guide is freely available on the CALL website and may be downloaded in its entirety (pdf) or as individual chapters. CALL is actively working to promote this guide to law libraries, academic libraries and public libraries across the state. 

Chapters Participate in Government Relations Virtual Training
Representatives from 25 of AALL’s 31 chapters joined the Government Relations Office for a virtual training on chapter advocacy earlier this week. Participants shared success stories of their chapters’ involvement in state-based advocacy and learned strategies for success, like building relationships with bar associations and library group allies and planning ahead for future legislative battles. The recording of the Chapter Government Relations Virtual Online Training is available on AALLNET.

Roundup and Review