MLA Advocacy - July 23, 2015

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Road Fix Plan Stalled in Lansing

Road funding talks are continuing but a solution does not appear to be close. Democrats are concerned by the House and Senate GOP plans, both of which call for a sizable diversion in general fund revenue, which could force cuts in other budget areas. This is also of concern to libraries and potential appropriation of penal fine funding.

Michigan House Republicans are considering a number of road funding options but appear to be divided over the fuel tax portion of the plan approved by the Senate. The $1.5 billion Senate GOP plan would raise gasoline and diesel taxes to 34 cents by 2017 and eventually dedicate $700 million a year in general fund revenue to roads. Additional general fund growth in any given year would trigger a reduction in the personal income tax rate.

TIFAs Siphon Library Dollars - Are Your Dedicated Library Millages Being Tapped?

Recently, many of you responded to an MLA survey about your library and Tax Increment Financing Authority or TIFA often known as Downtown Development Authorities (DDA), Brownfield Redevelopment or Corridor Improvement among others. Many of your libraries are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to these authorities who operate without oversight and often without input from the entities from whom they are funneling taxes.

These entities capture dedicated library millages, reducing library budgets and making it difficult to garner public support for library millage renewals. Michigan libraries lose Voters go to the polls and choose to support their libraries by approving a dedicated library millage. These locally dedicated taxes approved by voters for library funding are being captured against the libraries' choice without the locally voting taxpayer's knowledge or approval.

MLA has been working for years with legislators trying to arrive at an equitable solution. Last year MLA sat on a work group with other stake holders to look at issues surrounding the funding and use of TIFAs. We are not taking a position that any or all of these tax capture entities are good or bad. That is a question for our elected officials and in fact a number of DDAs do provide revenue or service to our libraries. Our concern is that these taxes are taken without authorization of the voters or the library. We think libraries' dedicated millage dollars should be kept at the library.

The MLA Legislative Committee and GCSI have been working to address this unfair situation with amendments to the TIFA acts. Soon you will be asked to contact your legislators and request their support of legislation that would ensure dedicated library millages go to the library, unless the library board decides differently. I will keep you informed of our progress.

MLA 2015 Offers More Advocacy This Year

MLA 2015 in Novi will have a special two-hour advocacy session. The update will cover the latest on budgets, Tax Increment Financing Authorities and road repair funding? GCSI lobbyists will provide updates on the exploits and achievements in Lansing; what to expect for next year and where we see library funding headed in the future. Join us and bring your questions and concerns.

Advocacy Training is also scheduled to help you learn to engage your local or state elected officials. This advocacy training session will cover the best steps for making constructive contact with your officials and how to express your thoughts on a topic. Plus you’ll learn how to engage your library supporters in grassroots lobbying.

To take advantage of these new opportunities, be sure to register for MLA 2015, October 28-30 in Novi. Early bird discounts expire September 11. Register now for maximum savings!

Victory for School Libraries as Senate Passes Education Bill
This article is reprinted from a post by Jessica McGilvray July 17, 2015 in the ALA District Dispatch, LegislationSchool Libraries

The Senate made great strides this week to ensure needed reform to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). After much debate and across the aisle discussion, yesterday the Senate overwhelmingly passed S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, by a vote of 81-17. As we discussed in a previous post, the inclusion in the bill of the bi-partisan Reed-Cochran amendment, makes S. 1177 a monumental step forward for schools, their libraries and the millions of students they serve. Most fundamentally and importantly, the amendment (approved 98-0) makes explicit that ESEA funds may be used to support school libraries and “effective school library programs” in multiple ways.

As detailed in ALA’s recent press statement, “The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 contains several provisions in support of libraries, including state and local planning requirements related to developing effective school library programs and digital literacy skills; professional development activities for school librarians; partnership opportunities for libraries; and competitive grants for developing and enhancing effective school library programs.”

Now that both the House (H.R. 5) and the Senate have completed their bills, the next step will be the appointment of members from both chambers to a conference committee to reconcile differences between the two pieces of legislation. That new bill then must be approved again by both the House and Senate.

Although we do not anticipate this happening before the fall, please do stay tuned and watch for legislative alerts! Your voices will be needed at that time to remind your members of congress about the importance of school libraries and how essential it is that the provisions supporting school libraries remain in the final bill.

Take Action for Libraries
From ALA Washington Office

In the coming weeks, we believe that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will take up S. 779/H.R. 1477, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR). This bill would accelerate scientific discovery and fuel innovation by making articles reporting on publicly funded scientific research freely accessible online for anyone to read and build upon.

What does this bill mean for libraries and the public?

  • Each year, U.S. taxpayers invest hundreds of millions of dollars in publicly-funded research and have a right to expect access to the resulting published data, analyses and articles;
  • FASTR will assure that the tax-paying public—including students, teachers, journalists, scientists, entrepreneurs and established businesses alike—will have prompt access to this critical information without paying for it twice.  

If passed, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act would:

  • Extend the National Institutes of Health Public Access policy to 11 addi¬tional federal agencies and departments, thus requiring those with an annual extra-mural research budget of $100 million or more ultimately to mandate that all funded researchers provide the agency with an electronic copy of the final manuscript of any paper accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal;
  • Ensure that all submitted manuscripts are preserved in a stable digital repository maintained by the funding agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation;
  • Require that each taxpayer-funded manuscript be made available to the public, online and without cost, no later than six months after the article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Right now, take a few minutes to call or email your Senator and ask them to support S. 779.
 

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