Legislative Update -- December 7, 2018

December 7, 2018

ILA's Public Policy and Advocacy Committees met on December 3 to discuss upcoming legislative priorities and plans for the February 2019 Legislative Meet-up series of events.


The last day for filing objections to candidate nomination papers (including papers from prospective library trustee candidates) occurs this year on December 24, a day when many libraries are typically closed. According to the State Board of Elections' website, "The objection period consists of five business days. If the office of the local election official is closed for days that would normally be business days prior to Tuesday, December 25, 2018, they must extend the deadline for filing objections in their office." Therefore, a library scheduled to be closed on December 24 may be able to extend the deadline until December 26. Library directors are urged to consult with their own attorneys and/or county clerk offices to determine the best course of action, including perhaps posting information about any extension on the library's web site and/or contacting anyone to whom the library has provided a candidate's packet.


At its November 29, 2018 meeting, the ILA Executive Board approved the following five legislative priorities for spring 2019.

1) Refining language and making consistent for district and municipal libraries the current qualifications for serving as a library trustee: Public Act 100-1476/HB 2222, signed into law in September 2018, updated trustee eligibility to those who had lived in the district for at least one year, cannot be "in arrears in the payment of a tax or other indebtedness due to the library district," or has been convicted of a crime. ILA seeks first to change "payment of a tax or other indebtedness due to the library district" to "payment of a property tax;" primarily because revealing fines owed to the library would be a breach of patron privacy. Second, we seek to have this law also apply to the Local Library Act so that municipal libraries and district libraries are treated consistently.

2) We will seek for SB 4819, the Broadband Procurement Act, to be reintroduced. This proposed legislation would prohibit the state of Illinois from doing business with an Internet service provider that throttled or favored content in violation of net neutrality principles. There are a number of lawsuits pending regarding net neutrality, and in general legislatures prefer to have litigation concluded prior to seeking legislative solutions. However, ILA feels it is important to be on record in strong support of net neutrality, so we will continue to support this legislation.

3) Get libraries included in the list of units of local government eligible for pursuing performance contracting as a means of procurement in the Local Government Energy Conservation Act. Currently, Chapter 50 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, dealing with local government, includes a provision in section 515/5 about cooperative purchasing that states "'Unit of local government' means a county, township, municipality, or park district." Since units of local government are already defined, inclusive of library districts as "special districts," in the Illinois Constitution, ILA will seek to have the language from 50 ILCS 515/5 stricken and replaced with "In addition to the definition prescribed to it by Article VII, Section 1 of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, a 'unit of local government' includes a school district for the purposes of this Act."

4) Support in concept AISLE's long-term goal for a licensed school librarian in all schools. ILA and AISLE recognize this is a long-term goal with interim steps, strategic alliances, and other approaches to be developed. ILA will continue to work with AISLE to outline a strategy.
On the federal side, ILA typically works with ALA to identify legislative priorities; currently there are two that we are focusing on now.

1) The Museum and Library Services Act of 2018, S 3530, was approved by the full U.S. Senate on December 4, 2018. It has been introduced in the House as HR 6988 and has bipartisan support. The 2018 MLSA reauthorizes the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), showing congressional support for the federal agency and the funding it administers, including the Library Services Technology Act, the only federal program that exclusively covers services and funding for libraries. While the current, approved 2018 appropriations bill, HR 1625, includes funding for IMLS at increased levels, including a $5.7 million increase for LSTA, the White House's proposed budget for 2019 eliminates IMLS. Advocates should contact your U.S. Representatives to urge them to support MLSA so that IMLS and library funding can avoid rescission this year or elimination next year. 

2) Support Strengthening the Federal Depository Library Program:The FDLP Modernization Act, HR 5305, is sponsored by Gregg Harper (R-MS) and has bipartisan support among eight cosponsors. This act would update the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) to improve public access to government information. The act would provide greater flexibility, facilitate collaboration, streamline program requirements, and allow more libraries to participate in the FDLP, making the program's services more widely available to the public. 

ALA is presenting a free, one-hour webinar on December 11 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. CST, "Preparing for the 116th Congress:" With such a large number of new members of Congress, it is a critical time for your Senators and Representatives to hear from library leaders about continuing federal funding for libraries of all types. Join ALA’s Advocacy and Public Policy team for an overview of our upcoming appropriations campaign, a discussion about advancing our priorities through in-district engagement, and a preview of the fresh resources that will be available in the new year. Register here.

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