Vol. 2013, Issue 04
A Look Ahead
Spring Arrives, Congress Recesses
Congress enters the second week of its annual Easter/Passover recess today, which returns Representatives and Senators to their home districts and states (respectively) until April 8. Prior to adjourning, the Senate passed a budget for the first time in four years in the early hours of March 23. The Senate plan calls for nearly $1 trillion in new taxes over the next decade and modest reductions in projected government spending. While it would replace the draconian spending cuts of the sequester, the Senate budget would permit the national debt to swell to more than $18 trillion by 2023, up from $12 trillion today. In contrast, the House plan, passed earlier the same week, calls for a radical reduction in the size of government by curtailing spending on dozens of programs for the poor, repealing President Obama’s healthcare law, and partially privatizing Medicare. The House budget would balance by 2023, leaving the national debt to grow to about $14 trillion. The real heavy lifting will begin when both chambers return from recess and will attempt to reconcile these dramatically different spending plans. President Obama is expected to present his administration’s budget proposal on April 10, two months after the February deadline.
Budget battles aside, both chambers have seen the introduction of legislation relevant to AALL’s work this session, including bills on open access, privacy, and FOIA. Read more under “Act Now.” President Jean M. Wenger has also submitted written testimony on behalf of AALL, Medical Library Association, and Special Libraries Association to the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Legislative Branch in support of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 appropriations requests of the Government Printing Office (GPO) and the Library of Congress (LC). Once the fiscal debate abates, it’s likely we’ll see progress on these bills and formal appropriations requests from agencies in the coming weeks and months.
Meet Your Member
The spring recess provides an excellent opportunity for you to meet with your members of Congress at home to discuss these important issues and how they affect your law library. Use our helpful guide for tips on scheduling, preparing, and conducting your meeting or watch our recent online training, “Communicating with Congress” (registration required).
If you’re in the Washington area— or want to visit!— you can join us for AALL’s first-ever Local Advocate Lobby Day on April 18. Participants will take our message to the Hill for pre-scheduled meetings with their Representatives and Senators or their staff. The full-day event will also feature an in-depth morning training session, remarks from Robyn Russell, Legislative Director to Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), on the importance of constituent advocacy, and an opportunity to view a special book display and a demonstration of Congress.gov at the Law Library of Congress. Registration for the Lobby Day closes today, so be sure to email Elizabeth Holland with any questions or your RSVP. And stay tuned for information about our Virtual Lobby Day!
Tell your Representative to Oppose CISPA
CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, was reintroduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 624) in mid-February and like last year, the bill contains dangerous provisions that would allow companies to liberally share sensitive personal information with the government for purposes unrelated to cybersecurity and without meaningful oversight. Please write your Representative today and urge him/her to oppose CISPA, which would create a gaping new exemption to existing privacy law.
CISPA would grant companies more power to obtain “threat” information, including private communications of users, and to disclose that data to the government without a warrant. The bill also unnecessarily cuts off all public access to cyber threat information before the public and Congress have had the chance to understand the types of information that are withheld under the bill. For more information, see our recent letter of concern to Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and letter to Michael Daniel, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, urging the White House to renew its promise to veto CISPA.
While you’re visiting our Legislative Action Center, you can also write your Senators and Representative to ask them to co-sponsor FASTR, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), which would enable public access to scientific research funded by American taxpayers.
Thanks for all that you do!
AALL in the States
Update on UELMA
The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act
(UELMA) continues to see progress across the country, having now been introduced in 11 states. See our 2013 UELMA Bill Tracking Chart
for the latest.
AALL members and chapters have been hard at work supporting UELMA and we’d like to share some recent highlights. Minnesota became the third state to enact UELMA when the governor signed it into law on March 14. Congratulations to our advocates! Missouri AALL member Phil Berwick, Associate Dean for Information Resources at Washington University, testified before the Governmental Accountability & Fiscal Oversight Committee in support of SB 478 on March 27. On March 12, AALL President Jean M. Wenger testified before the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee in support of UELMA, SB 1941. AALL’s Western Pacific (WestPac) chapter sent a letter on March 6 in support of HB 2944, Oregon’s UELMA bill. The letter urged the Oregon House Committee on Judiciary to approve the bill, which covers a range of key materials including the Oregon Constitution, Session laws, the Oregon Revised Statues, and Oregon Administrative Rules. SNELLA government relations chair recently gave an interview on UELMA to the Connecticut Law Tribune on March 4. The Connecticut UELMA bill, S.B. 235, has been sent to the Office of Legislative Research (OLR) and the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA). In Hawaii, the Joint Committees of Judiciary and Consumer Protection and Commerce reported out SB32. It will be placed on the calendar for its last reading.
We’re hopeful North Dakota will soon become the fourth state to enact UELMA. HB 1129 has passed both chambers of the legislature and awaits governor's signature! Subscribe to the GRO’s Advocacy Listserv for the latest information.
Roundup and Review