MLA Advocacy - February 25, 2016

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MLA Testifies for State Aid to Libraries

Yesterday, MLA Legislative Chair Lance Werner and Vice Chair Mary Rzepczynski testified at the House Appropriation Education Subcommittee meeting held at the Capitol in Lansing. They explained the crucial role libraries serve in their communities and how the state’s support of libraries enables vital programs and services. They requested the committee’s support for the Governor’s proposed budget. Shannon White with Library of Michigan testified as well providing an overview of the Library’s services. We appreciate the time and efforts of these librarians as they advocate for the entire library community.

Governor Snyder has recommended a 2017 FY budget that’s nearly a mirror image of libraries’ 2016 numbers. Last year’s $1 million increase in State Aid to Libraries for fiscal year 2015/16 along with the additional Renaissance Zone Reimbursements remain in the governor’s recommendation. In fact, line items for the Library of Michigan, LSTA and Michigan eLibrary showed a modest $94,000 total increase over last year.

Early learning and third grade reading proficiency continue to be a priority to the administration. Clearly libraries’ contributions to the success of early literacy are being recognized.

In addition, the governor’s proposed higher education budget raises funding for the state's 15 public universities $61.2 million, or 4.3 percent. Schools would only get the funding if they held tuition increases to 4.8 percent or less. Community colleges get a 2.4 percent, or $7.5 million, increase in state dollars.

MLA and GCSI lobbyists will be meeting with key legislators to discuss the library budget. Remember, this is just the first step in the budget process. Both chambers will present their recommendations and the final budget comes from a consensus of the three recommendations.

Following is a link to the Executive Budget document. http://www.michigan.gov/documents/budget/FY17_Exec_Budget_513960_7.pdf

PA 269/SB571 Fix it Bill Passes House

MLA recommended language was included in Rep. Lisa Lyons’ follow up bill HB 5219 which passed the House earlier this week. The PA 269’s 60-day restriction on communication was an effort to block access to unbiased, objective communication and dissemination of information. The new language attempts to clarify the law by saying local entities can only relay factual and neutral information in taxpayer funded mass communications on local ballot proposals. A previous version of the bill said “strictly neutral.” Since libraries are in the business of providing factual and neutral information, this was not as much of a stretch for support. Changes to the bill also include making violations a civil infraction instead of a misdemeanor.

We still have concerns with the follow up bill that the language remains somewhat ambiguous and could lead to litigation.

Librarians voiced strong opinions on SB 571 and we were hugely disappointed that the Governor chose to sign the legislation. A legal challenge to the constitutionality remains underway. MLA is supporting the legal challenge and has signed on to an amicus brief in support as well. A motion for immediate injunctive relief has been approved and sets aside the law until a judge decides the outcome of the legal challenge.

MLA was sincere in efforts to work with legislators to resolve the law’s restrictive language and earlier this month MLA lobbyists and Legislative Chair Lance Werner sat down with Rep. Lyons and discussed what potential fixes might look like.

Good News on Penal Fines

Rep. Julie Plawicki’s (D-Dearborn Heights) bill HB 4651 increases penalties for unendorsed motorcycle riders. She removed the section of her bill that would have funneled a portion of the penal fines to purposes other than library support. We met with the representative and explained to her how important it was that those fines remain dedicated to libraries. We appreciate Rep. Plawicki’s sensitivity to this important library funding source. This bill was the first of three recent attempts to divert penal fines. MLA and GCSI are watching carefully for these attempts.

Tax Capture Legislation in the Senate

An MLA initiated seven bill package that would eliminate most automatic tax captures (Downtown Development Authorities DDA, Tax Increment Financing TIF) for libraries including those pre 1994 as long as there is no bond attached to the entity is currently in the Senate. Libraries are asking for transparency and accountability on the part of tax captures. We are currently working through some sensitivities in the bills dealing with local government structures and their relationship to library structure. Please contact your Senators and let them know how important these bills are to libraries. 
The bills unanimously passed out of senate committee last month. Passage of the bills would mean the tax capture would reach out and build a relationship with the library, explain their projects and then let the library board make an informed decision if allocating a portion of their funding to the tax capture is beneficial for all parties including library patrons. It would no longer allow automatic tax capture from pre 1994 TIFAs. The library board has an obligation to be able to tell their voters why their tax dollars are not directly funding the library. Click on the following links to view the bills:
 SB 0579 of 2015SB 0619 of 2015SB 0620 of 2015SB 0621 of 2015SB 0622 of 2015SB0623 of 2015SB 0624 of 2015

Carla Hayden Nominated for Librarian of Congress

We applaud the President’s selection and are thrilled with Carla Hayden’s nomination for Librarian of Congress. MLA joined with ALA and library associations across the country urging the President to select a professional librarian with the experience to lead the Library of Congress into the future. In MLA’s letter to the President last October we explained: This critically important position as a leader for our nation’s libraries and cultural institutions requires the knowledge and experience of a librarian who understands the importance of librarianship and the role of libraries in our nation.

President Obama said, “Michelle and I have known Dr. Carla Hayden for a long time, since her days working at the Chicago Public Library, and I am proud to nominate her to lead our nation’s oldest federal institution as our 14th Librarian of Congress. Dr. Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today's digital culture. She has the proven experience, dedication, and deep knowledge of our nation’s libraries to serve our country well and that’s why I look forward to working with her in the months ahead. If confirmed, Dr. Hayden would be the first woman and the first African American to hold the position – both of which are long overdue.”

Carla D. Hayden, Nominee for Librarian of Congress, Library of Congress:

Dr. Carla D. Hayden is CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland, a position she has held since 1993. Dr. Hayden was nominated by President Obama to be a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board in January 2010 and was confirmed by the Senate in June 2010. Prior to joining the Pratt Library, Dr. Hayden was Deputy Commissioner and Chief Librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991 to 1993. She was an Assistant Professor for Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1991. Dr. Hayden was Library Services Coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago from 1982 to 1987. She began her career with the Chicago Public Library as the Young Adult Services Coordinator from 1979 to 1982 and as a Library Associate and Children’s Librarian from 1973 to 1979. Dr. Hayden was President of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004. In 1995, she was the first African American to receive Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award in recognition of her outreach services at the Pratt Library, which included an afterschool center for Baltimore teens offering homework assistance and college and career counseling. Dr. Hayden received a B.A. from Roosevelt University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago.

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