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 The LLNE GRC is working on updating its website by revising some outdated information and adding links to the legislative pages of all six New England states.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 .

Help us support UELMA in Massachusetts!

UELMA (Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act) is once again before the Massachusetts Legislature as H. 812, sponsored by Carmine L. Gentile and currently in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. LLNE member (and head of its Government Relations Committee’s Subcommittee working on the passage of UELMA in Massachusetts) Marnie Warner testified in favor of the legislation on May 2nd. You can read a copy of her testimony on the LLNE website.

We can use your help in two ways:

1) If you are a Massachusetts resident and your representative is on the Joint Judiciary Committee, please contact that person to encourage passage of H. 812. If your representative is not on the committee, please contact the committee chairs. (See Find My Legislator if you are not sure who your representative is.) Below are links to some examples of letters, but it is good to idea to personalize the message so that all messages are not identical. You might also want to link to or consult our LLNE UELMA one-pager.

§ LLAM Sample letter to Committee member
§ AALL Sample One-Pager for Chapters or Individual
§ AALL Sample Letter of Support to Committee Chairs (Individual)
§ Additional AALL UELMA Materials

2) Tell us your stories!

As part of our UELMA advocacy we are looking for stories of how lack of access to digital legal information has affected real people. Please help us by filling out the following survey: http://bit.ly/uelma-survey .

Thank you for caring about these issues and helping us make UELMA a reality in Massachusetts!

Government Relations Committee update

By Anne McDonald and Emilie Benoit, Co-Chairs, LLNE Government Relations Committee

Massachusetts UELMA Bill

Thanks to the tireless advocacy of the UELMA in Massachusetts Subcommittee of the LLNE GRC, the UELMA bill is making its way through the Massachusetts legislature. H 812, sponsored by Rep. Carmine Gentile, was heard in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on May 2, 2017.  The UELMA Subcommittee will keep the LLNE membership apprised of further action on its web page, where it has added an updated UELMA in Massachusetts one-pager.

Why is UELMA important?  As the above-mentioned fact sheet notes: “enactment of UELMA will put a set of principles in place if a body in the future decides to publish in only online form or designate their online materials for use of the public as official.” Updates will be posted on this page and on the LLNE blog when available.  AALL also has a wealth UELMA resources on its Government Relations site, which is constantly being updated. It is important for LLNE members who reside in Massachusetts to contact their legislators at critical times, so please check the website from time to time and follow through.

AALL Virtual Lobby Day

AALL’s Government Relations Office Director Emily Feltren reports that the AALL’s Virtual Lobby Day on April 26 enjoyed very active participation by AALL members who sent a flurry of emails to their legislators in support of its top priorities.  The most popular action alert was in support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, followed by funding for the Legal Services Corporation and net neutrality.

If you were unable to participate in Lobby Day, there’s still time to act: visit AALL’s Action Center  to learn more about these issues and to email your Members of Congress directly from the site.

AALL is focusing on these issues:

  • Full funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, (IMLS)
  • Full funding for the Legal Services Corporation
  • Net Neutrality
  • ECPA (Electronic Communication Privacy Act) Reform
  • Keep Appointment authority for Register of Copyrights with the Librarian of Congress.

A word on the Copyright bill:  The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 1695/S 1010) which makes the Register of Copyrights subject to Presidential Appointment and Senate confirmation passed in the House on April 26th with bipartisan support and is now in the Senate Rules Committee. Emily Feltren stated in an email that this bill is deemed a compromise because it does not go as far as the CODE Act (HR 890) and keeps the Copyright Office within the Library of Congress. Nevertheless, AALL opposes the bill because it would have a detrimental effect on interactions between the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office.

The LLNE Government Relations Committee is providing this information to you to further its committee charge to keep you apprised of developments which may be of interest to you as an informed law librarian.

Government Relations Committee Update

By Anne McDonald and Emilie Benoit, Co-Chairs, LLNE Government Relations Committee

Government and Legislative News of Interest from New England States

Maureen Quinlan, GRC’s Maine state representative, would like LLNE members to know about the new digital library at the Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library, the brainchild of Director John Barden. Maureen writes: “The library staff members have been digitizing bills, laws, legislative reports, and tying them all together in a wonderful Legislative History page for each public law, including relevant links to the legislative record.  It has made researching legislative history so easy and transparent.”

Michelle Pearse, of the GRC’s “UELMA in Massachusetts” subcommittee, reports that a Massachusetts UELMA bill will be introduced during the current session. A bill number is not yet available; we will keep the membership posted as updated information becomes available. We thank the group membership for their hard work and persistence. The other members of the group are: Barbara Schneider, Joan Shear, Marnie Warner and Sue Zago.

AALL Resources

Many LLNE members attended the National Conference on the Copyright of State Legal Materials which took place on December 2, 2016 at Boston University School of Law.  For those who were unable to attend, the video recordings, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations from the National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials are now on AALLNET. There is also an article on the conference on page 6 of the February 2017 edition of the CRIV Sheet, the newsletter of AALL’s Committee on Relations with Information Vendors.

The LLNE Government Relations Committee is providing this information to you to further its committee charge to keep you apprised of developments which may be of interest to you as an informed law librarian.

 

Government Relations Committee Update

By Anne McDonald & Emilie Benoit, Co-chairs, LLNE Government Relations Committee

Massachusetts Legislative Update

The UELMA in MA Subcommittee of the LLNE GRC continues to advocate for the passage of H 43, the UELMA bill.  The Massachusetts Bar Association House of Delegates voted to support H 43 on May 19, 2016. We thank Marnie Warner for her advocacy efforts with the Massachusetts Bar Association and thank all members of the UELMA subcommittee for their hard work and dedication.  According to Emily Feltren of AALL’s Government Relations Office, Massachusetts is the second state bar association to support UELMA, after Connecticut.

H 43 remains in the Massachusetts House Ways and Means committee. Marnie Warner, of the UELMA in Massachusetts Subcommittee of the LLNE GRC, reports that given the current budget shortfall, she does not expect any movement until the budget is settled.  Even though formal legislative sessions end at the end of June, legislators continue to meet informally, retaining the ability to vote on bills, until the end of December.

There is still time for LLNE members who are Massachusetts residents to contact their legislators and urge passage of UELMA.

The Massachusetts Public Records bill was signed into law on Friday June 3, 2016. It promises to make government more transparent, according to the Boston Globe.

 AALL GRO News

June 13, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FOIA Improvement Act (S.337), sending the comprehensive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reform bill to the President’s desk. He is expected to sign it before the 50th anniversary of FOIA on July 4th.  The bill updates FOIA by codifying the directives previously established in memoranda by President Obama and Attorney General Holder. It requires that information be available to the public in electronic format and limits the time period that federal agencies can keep internal information confidential.  Here is a link to AALL’s Washington Blawg.

 Librarian of Congress Nomination Progresses

 On June 9, 2016, the U.S. Senate Rules Committee voted to recommend that the nomination of Dr. Carla Hayden as the next Librarian of Congress be approved by the full Senate.

We are hopeful that the Senate will take up the nomination without delay.

Please urge your Senators to vote to confirm Dr. Hayden, through AALL’s Legislative Action Center.

Legislative Advocacy Training at AALL

 For those of you who will be at AALL, there is still time to register for the Legislative Advocacy Training on Saturday July 16, 2016. It will feature a speaker from Congressman Mike Quigley’s office and an opportunity to meet AALL members who will share their experiences in the legislative process. Here is a link to the draft agenda.

The LLNE Government Relations Committee is providing this information to you to further its committee charge to keep you apprised of developments which may be of interest to you as an informed law librarian.