Committee Update: Government Relations

Greetings advocates,

AALL recently updated its legislative priorities for the 117th Congress. These include:

  1. Funding to support the legal information industry
  2. Equitable access to official legal information
  3. Privacy protections for law library users

We encourage you to visit the Government Relations Section of AALLNET for more information on AALL’s policy positions, an advocacy toolkit, the AALL Legislative Action Center, and more.  And, if you haven’t already, we encourage you to join the AALL Advocates Community, to receive regular advocacy updates, including news posts from members of AALL’s Government Relations Committee.

On the UELMA front, the U.S. Virgin Islands just became the 23rd jurisdiction to enact the legislation. Here in New England, the Massachusetts UELMA bill, H.1597, has been referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Many thanks to LLNE’s Massachusetts members for your willingness to write to your representatives to seek (co)sponsorship, and to the members of the UELMA in MA Subcommittee for your tireless efforts to see this important legislation advance.

Feel free to contact either of us with questions or ideas. We would also welcome your involvement with the committee.

– Catherine Biondo and Emilie Benoit, LLNE GRC Co-Chairs

Hello and Welcome from the New LLNE President!

Good morning! 

As the new LLNE president I wanted to take a moment and welcome everyone to this new membership year. In many ways, this year seems dishearteningly similar to last year, with all the uncertainty, anxiety, and apprehension about how the pandemic might affect our personal and professional lives. Our immediate past president, Nicole Dyszlewski, along with LLNE volunteers on and off the Executive Board, dedicated enormous quantities of time and energy to provide opportunities for us to continue to learn, engage with each other, and enjoy each other’s company — even without the luxury of face-to-face gatherings. Special thanks to all of you as well as to the following outgoing members of the Executive Board:

  • Bob de Fabrizio, outgoing past president, Manager of Law Libraries, MA Trial Courts
  • Ellen Frenzen, outgoing co-chair of the Communications Committee, Assistant Dean for Administration at Boston University Law School         
  • Anne McDonald, outgoing co-chair of the Government Relations Committee, Law Library Coordinator, Rhode Island Dept. of the Attorney General
  • AnnaKatherine Wherren: outgoing chair of Scholarships Committee, Legal Research Librarian, Suffolk University Law School

I’d also like to welcome the incoming board members:

  • Catherine Biondo, co-chair of the Government Relations Committee, Research Librarian, Harvard Law Library
  • Kaitlin Connolly, co-chair of the Service Committee, Reference Librarian, State Library of Massachusetts
  • Josh LaPorte, vice president, president-elect, Head of Access Services, Boston University Law Library
  • Anne Rajotte, chair of the Access to Justice Committee, Head of Reference Services, University of Connecticut Law Library
  • Dawn Smith, chair of the Scholarships Committee, Head of Acquisitions, Yale Law School

LLNE means different things to each of us. For the 2012 version of me, membership simply meant seasonal meetings and the potential for engaging more with the LLNE community – once my infant and toddler daughters got a little older. In 2021, it means working with and learning from a group of awesome people from across New England. It’s also meant drawing cartoon llamas with other LLNE families and getting a glimpse of what executive board members’ canine companions think of them. Whatever this year brings, I hope we are able to find ways to continue to connect with each other. 

Take care.

Mike

MA members: Your help is needed on UELMA by FEB 12

It’s time once again to take action on the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) in Massachusetts! Massachusetts Representative Carmine Gentile has re-introduced the UELMA bill (HD.469) and has urged our members to seek co-sponsorship.  If you live in Massachusetts, please reach out to your state representatives and senators now and ask them to join on to this important legislation.  

For a sample email or to discuss these efforts further, please email Catherine Biondo, LLNE GRC MA representative, on behalf of the LLNE UELMA in MA committee (cbiondo@law.harvard.edu). Also, if you choose to send an email, please bcc Catherine on your email or forward her a copy afterward. 

Since the co-sponsorship deadline is approaching quickly, time is of the essence.  Please contact your legislators by Friday, February 12. 

Update from the Government Relations Committee

Due to the pandemic, which prevented most state legislatures in our region from holding sessions, the LLNE Government Relations Committee does not have any legislative activity or policy initiatives of interest to law librarians to report. Our bit of good news: Catherine Biondo, Research Librarian at Harvard Law School and former LLNE President, is the LLNE GRC’s newest member and is serving as the LLNE GRC’s Massachusetts State Representative. As detailed in our September 2020 blog post, Catherine was recently appointed to the AALL Government Relations Committee and also serves as AALL’s liaison to LLNE.

LLNE Government Relations Committee Report (October 2020)

Due to the COVID-19 closures of the various statehouses, we have no legislative activities to report on. The LLNE GRC is working on updating its website by revising some outdated information and adding links to the legislative pages of all six New England states. In last month’s Blog we reported that Past LLNE President Catherine Biondo has been appointed to the AALL GRC Government Relations Committee and also serves as liaison to LLNE.

Catherine Biondo appointed to AALL’s Government Relations Committee

We are pleased to announce that Catherine Biondo, a past LLNE President, has been appointed to a three-year term on AALL’s Government Relations Committee  (AALL-GRC) . The AALL GRC’s purpose  is to advance AALL’s legislative and advocacy efforts, both state and federal. Catherine informs us that some of the issues on which the AALL GRC is currently focusing include: additional COVID-19 related economic relief for law libraries; greater access to court records through PACER; and a modernized Federal Depository Library Program.  The AALL GRC liaisons keep SISs and Chapters informed about the Committee’s work and are available to answer policy-and-advocacy-related questions throughout the year.  

We asked Catherine what motivated her join the AALL GRC and about her past government-related experience.  Here is her response: 

I’d say my interest in government issues began in college.  I earned my A.B. in Government, with a Concentration in International Relations, from Cornell University. While at Cornell, I was the Editor of a non-partisan political journal called the Cornell Political Forum and a member of Model Congress (we hosted a conference for high school students to act as members of Congress and introduce and debate bills).  I also volunteered on a local political campaign. Rather than work in government, though, I went into law.  I earned my J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law and became a member of the New York and Connecticut bars.  I then worked as a research clerk for the Connecticut Superior Court, and practiced law for a few years, before deciding to become a law librarian.  I earned my M.S.L.S. from Simmons.   

My interest in government reignited when I had the opportunity to work with members of LLNE’s Government Relations Committee on UELMA when it came before the Massachusetts legislature during my presidential term.  [The LLNE GRC and its UELMA in MA Subcommittee]had done such a wonderful job tracking UELMA and preparing materials, and I found it really exciting to be a part of the process of effecting change in government (or at least trying to! ) That’s why I decided to apply to join the AALL GRC; to become more aware of the issues affecting libraries, learn to advocate better for those issues, and connect with librarian colleagues across the country who are active in this area.  

We are both former members of the AALL GRC, having each recently served three-year terms (not at the same time), and so we know from experience how much Catherine will enjoy serving on the AALL GRC. We look forward to a very productive time working with Catherine and the AALL GRC. The AALL GRC is fortunate to have someone with Catherine’s skills, talents and enthusiasm! 

Anne McDonald,  Co-chair, LLNE Government Relations Committee

Emilie Benoit, Co-chair, LLNE Government Relations Committee

UELMA in MASSACHUSETTS UPDATE

 A public hearing on the Massachusetts UELMA bills H. 64.and H. 3294 was held on September 17,2019 before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Catherine Biondo, LLNE’s Immediate Past President testified  on behalf of LLNE and submitted the following supporting documents to the Joint Committee:

One-pager explaining H. 3294 and H. 64 and UELMA in Massachusetts

AALL Chart showing that 21 states plus the District of Columbia have enacted UELMA as of August 2019.

There will be opportunities for attendees to become involved in helping to pass UELMA at the LLNE fall meeting at Harvard.  

If you are from Massachusetts and not attending the LLNE meeting, please take time to contact your state Representative by letter or email and encourage them to support H. 64 and H. 3294 and specifically to contact members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary to favorably refer the bills out to a full vote in the House.

Once the bills are before the full House, LLNE will engage with members of the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Library Association to lobby for passage of UELMA.  Both the MBA and the MLA have endorsed UELMA.


We thank the members of the LLNE GRC UELMA in MA Subcommittee and the legislators who have supported our efforts. Special thanks to Marnie Warner, LLNE GRC UELMA in Massachusetts Subcommittee member, for her contributions to this report.

Anne McDonald, Co-Chair, LLNE Government Relations Committee

Emilie Benoit, Co-Chair, LLNE Government Relations Committee

LLNE Immediate Past President Catherine Biondo testifies in support of UELMA

On September 17, 2019, LLNE Immediate Past President Catherine Biondo testified in support of UELMA (H. 64 and H. 3294)  at the Joint Committee on the Judiciary hearing on the bills. A copy of her written statement has been posted on the LLNE website along with other information about the UELMA bills in Massachusetts this session on the UELMA Advocacy for Massachusetts page

Announcement from AALL’s Government Relations Office: free training!

Emily Feltren, Director of AALL’s Government Relations Office, announces that registration for AALL’s free online training, Advocating for Information Policy Change on Capitol Hill,

(April 11 at 11:00 a.m. CDT), is now open. This training is designed to sharpen your advocacy communication skills and prepare you to take action on AALL’s hottest policy priorities, including passage of the FDLP Modernization Act (H.R. 5305) and the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (H.R. 4631).

Emily says: You’ll leave this bite-sized 30 minute session prepared to contact your member of Congress with a pro-law library message during AALL’s Virtual Lobby Day on April 12, all from the comfort of your desk. I hope you’ll join me!

Members of Congress are currently debating key information policy issues that could change how law libraries access, use, and preserve government and legal information.

Join AALL’s online advocacy training to learn how you can influence your members of Congress to modernize current laws to benefit law libraries and their users. The training will prepare you to take action during AALL’s Virtual Lobby Day on April 12, 2018.

(Hat tip to Anne McDonald for passing this along to the blog!)

LLNE Makes Its Voice Heard at Meeting regarding Massachusetts Appellate Decisions

On June 26th, the Reporter of Judicial Decisions for Massachusetts held a listening session for stakeholders to voice concerns about the possibility of decisions from the Massachusetts Appeals Court and Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to an online format.  Various LLNE members attended the meeting and LLNE Vice-President/President-Elect Ellen Frentzen spoke on behalf of LLNE.  You can check out a copy of the formal letter .