Legislative Update --January 7, 2021

January 7, 2021

We have all seen the news reports of yesterday's appalling and antidemocratic events in Washington yesterday, including the abhorrent comments made by one of Illinois' own federal representatives. Here, we'll continue to focus on directly library-related legislative issues, and there is some good news for us on the federal level.

  • COVID-19 Relief and 2021 Appropriations: The bill signed on December 21 does not include direct COVID-19 relief funding for libraries, but the 2021 appropriations do include a $5 million increase for IMLS, including $2 million for LSTA. Despite threats by the White House to eliminate the agency completely for four consecutive years, funding for the IMLS has increased from $231 million to $257 million. In addition, the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program received a $1 million increase, and at least half of the total $28 million for IAL is dedicated for school libraries. The FY2021 budget also includes increases for National Library of Medicine (+$5.8 million), National Endowment for the Arts (+$5.3 million), National Endowment for the Humanities (+$5.3 million), and Library of Congress (+$32 million).
  • Build America's Libraries Act: This recently proposed legislation would provide $5 billion to repair and construct modern libraries in underserved and disadvantaged communities. We expect to see action on it in the new U.S. Congress. Read ALA's press release here.

On the state side, The Illinois General Assembly (ILGA) is scheduled to return to Springfield beginning on Friday, January 8 for five session days to conclude the 101st ILGA. A major focus will be on the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus' amendments to its four-prong equity package. Criminal justice; education and workforce development; economic access, equity, and opportunity; and healthcare and human services are pillar topics on which the caucus seeks to offer large and comprehensive legislative proposals. Although any other legislative subject may be considered through January 13, it is likely energy, the state budget, broadband, and other issues on which the association has debated and discussed will likely not be considered next week. Inauguration Day for the 102nd Illinois General Assembly is Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 12:00 p.m.  

There is still time to comment on the revised public library nonresident rules. These updated administrative rules provide guidance on the 2020 Cards for Kids Act, e-resources for nonresidents, and nonresident service to disabled veterans. These additions to the administrative rules can be found beginning on page 18660 (page 46 of the PDF) of the Illinois Register. Comments may be sent to Joe Natale, Chief Deputy Director of the Illinois State Library. The comment period runs through January 15.

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