Archive for January, 2012

Action Alert! Virtual Maryland Library Legislative Days 2012

Let your voice be heard!  The third Virtual Maryland Library Legislative Days are being held to coincide with the live Maryland Library Legislative Day advocacy event.  Between January 25th and February 1st, members of the Maryland library community—library staff, trustees, Friends groups, customers, volunteers—are encouraged to use Capwiz to write to their state legislators.  Please take the time during this week to send a personal message to your state representatives to advocate for libraries!  If you are already going to Annapolis, use the Action Alert to send a thank you to the legislators you visited. To begin, go to Capwiz and click on the Take Action button below Maryland: Virtual Library Legislative Days.

Thank you in advance for your advocacy efforts!

House introduces SKILLs Act

The House has introduced a Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act, HR 3776. This is a companion bill to S 1328, which was withdrawn in committee in October due to lack of support. The hope is that the House bill will fare better. The bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and strengthen school library programs. For more information, please see the District Dispatch post.

 

Proposed budget to share total retirement costs between state and locals

Governor O’Malley released his FY 2013 proposed budget yesterday. It does include a shift of retirement costs to the local governments. Currently, the state pays all of the costs for teacher pensions (a total of $946 million) and the counties and Baltimore City pay all of the costs for social security. O’Malley’s proposal would combine these two retirement costs and split them 50/50 between the state and the local governments. Although this is still an increase in the costs for local governments, it is not as high as if there a shift of pension costs and no change in social security.

 

At this point, the budget is in the hands of the General Assembly. The General Assembly may take things out of the budget, but not put something in it. This means that they can choose to reduce the costs being pushed down to the local governments; however, to do that and keep the budget balanced they must reduce spending elsewhere. Concern over this push down will be raised at the Maryland Library Legislative Day.

Anti-piracy bills lose support

Thanks to yesterday’s blackout and advocacy efforts, many legislators, including Senator Cardin, are pulling their support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, HR 3261) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA, S 968). Although these legislators still feel that the piracy issues must be addressed, they now agree that these bills require changes to avoid the many negative consequences. For more information, see this Roll Call article. (For background information, see the Legislative Panel’s blog post.)

Thank you to everyone who took action on this issue! You helped to make a difference!

O’Malley’s proposed budget to include shift of teacher pension costs to counties

On Wednesday, January 18th, O’Malley will release his FY 2013 budget. It is believed that the proposal will include a $240 million shift of teacher pension costs, including that of public librarians, to the counties and Baltimore City. Currently the state pays $955 million per year in teacher pension costs.

For more information, please see the Baltimore Sun article.

Website blackout today to protest SOPA & PIPA, anti-piracy bills

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1/19/2012 Update: Anti-piracy bills lose support. See update.

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Wikipedia and other websites are having a blackout on January 18th to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, HR 3261) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA, S 968)—two anti-piracy bills being considered in Congress. Although the bills aim to prevent Internet piracy, they also raise concerns about censorship and liability for internet service providers and libraries. The American Library Association (ALA) has taken a position against these two bills because of these concerns. In addition, the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN, S 2029) was recently introduced and is currently being reviewed by ALA.

For basic information about these bills, check out these resources:

 To take action on this issue, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s web site.

Action Alert! White House Petition for School Libraries!

Support funding for school library programs! Sign an online petition to the White House to ask that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provide dedicated funding to help support effective school library programs. Even if you do not work in school libraries, please consider participating in this advocacy effort. The petition needs 25,000 signatures by February 4th.

The petition is available at http://wh.gov/Wgd.

The petition web site can be temperamental, especially when it experiencing high traffic volume. If you run into problems, you are encouraged to try again later.

White House petitions on We the People must be authored by individuals, not any association. Therefore, Carl Harvey, 2011-2012 President of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), has introduced this petition as an individual, not as a representative of AASL or the American Library Association (ALA). We the People is a new tool that allows an individual to petition the Obama Administration online. If a petition gets at least 25,000 signatures, White House staff will review it, send it to the appropriate experts and issue an official response.

Thanks in advance for any advocacy efforts you can provide!



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