July 27, 2018
Illinois Library Association
Now that the 2018 spring session of the 100th Illinois General Assembly has wrapped and we are halfway through the second session of the 115th United States Congress, it’s time to summarize current legislation of interest to Illinois librarians. The Public Policy Committee, Advocacy Committee, and Executive Board have worked hard over the past several months along with legislative consultant Derek Blaida and executive director Diane Foote to identify ILA’s legislative priorities and implement action toward these priorities; through individual meetings and direct contact with legislators, our series of Legislative Meet-ups, participation in ALA’s National Library Legislative Day, and more.
Extend to city, village, and township libraries the same budget flexibility allowed for public library districts
Through a supermajority vote by its boards of trustees, public library districts have the statutory authority to transfer previously appropriated funds between budget line items to allow its governing body to responsibly manage district finances. However, the Illinois Local Library Act does not give this same authority to many city, village, and township libraries within our state. ILA supports S.B. 2450, introduced by state senator Scott Bennett of Champaign. As of the close of the session, the bill is still in progress due to concerns from other groups that passage may result in positions being cut midyear. ILA is continuing to work with these groups and our legislators on a solution.
Allow libraries to choose their preferred accounting method
Last year, the Illinois Comptroller notified units of local government that it would no longer permit government entities to file its annual audit statements prepared on the cash basis accounting method. Libraries have prepared and filed annual audit reports using the cash basis of accounting for decades. The requirement that governments must utilize the accrual method of accounting will result in additional costs for libraries and all units of local government. ILA supported Amendment 1 to H.B. 4104 on this issue, which states if a library's audits have been performed on the cash basis of accounting, the library can continue to do so in the future. As of the close of the spring 2018 session, the bill passed as S.B. 2630, and we expect it to be signed by the Governor.
Broadband and net neutrality
Access to broadband and net neutrality are vital to the free flow of information and the ability of libraries to provide Illinois residents with unfettered access to all legal content. ILA is actively advocating on the federal level to restore net neutrality protections. Here in Illinois, we support H.B. 4819 on the issue of net neutrality, and H.B. 5752 to create a Broadband Advisory Panel, which will include "a representative from an Illinois library association." As of the close of the spring 2018 legislative session, H.B. 5752 has been passed by the legislature and sent to the Governor for signature.
Annexation of unserved areas into a library district
Under current state law, when a library district seeks to annex an area currently unserved by a library district, notice must be given about such annexations (typically, but not necessarily, via postings in local newspapers), and residents who object may file petitions (a “back-door” referendum) to block them. H.B. 4519 sought to require a “front-door” referendum in which districts wishing to do this must first get voter approval in both areas. We opposed H.B. 4519 because: 1) Adding barriers to annexing areas precludes the expansion of valuable library services to previously unserved residents; 2) There is already a process in place if residents object to the annexation; 3) Residents in areas to be annexed who are interested in becoming part of the library district should not have additional burdens placed on them to do so; and 4) A better solution would be to find a better way to communicate/disseminate information about the annexation via channels other than local papers, if the problem is that there is uneven local paper coverage in the areas in question. As of the close of the spring 2018 session, this bill will not advance.
Requirements for residents serving as library trustees
Throughout the spring 2018 session, we monitored, but did not take a position for or against H.B. 2222, which seeks to address requirements for residents serving as library trustees, including requiring trustees to have lived in the municipality/district for a period of at least one year in order to be eligible to serve and prohibiting trustees from being "in debt" to the municipality in order to be eligible to serve. As of the close of the spring 2018 session, this bill has been passed in the legislature and sent to the Governor for signature.
Overall, the spring 2018 session resulted in positive outcomes for ILA public policy goals, with a state budget in place,
no new unfunded mandates, and the non-advancement of bills that would have precluded the use of public money
for continuing education.
Museum and Library Services Act of 2017
Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have introduced the Museum and Library Services Act of 2017, S. 2271. The 2017 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. The LSTA provides more than $183 million for libraries through the Grants to States program, the National Leadership Grants for Libraries, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, and Native American Library Services. While the current, approved 2018 appropriations bill, H.R. 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. ILA continues to urge elected officials to support IMLS and library funding throughout the 2018 and 2019 appropriations cycles to avoid rescission this year or elimination next year.
The FCC voted last year to gut the net neutrality protections that limit the power of Internet Service Providers to slow websites, block mobile apps, or in any way control the information we access. Modern libraries rely on the Internet to collect, create and disseminate essential online information and services to the public. Strong, enforceable net neutrality rules are critical to keeping the Internet working the way it does now. The Congressional Review Act gives Congress the ability and authority to nullify the FCC’s actions by adopting a Resolution of Disapproval. In May 2018, the Senate voted 52-47 in favor of the CRA Resolution of Disapproval; it will now move to the House and would need
a simple majority there plus the signature of the President to become law.