North Carolina’s adoption of the so-called “bathroom bill” (House Bill 2, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act) on March 23 has been rightly denounced for building bias and discrimination into state law and barring cities from extending protections for transgender individuals. It should go without saying that wholesale bigotry against members of a group is unacceptable and unconstitutional. This legislation is a travesty and an assault on our civil liberties.
Kansas library professionals, forced to mobilize quickly and using social media to rally support and spread their message, convinced lawmakers to remove language from a fast-tracked tax bill that they said threatened the survival of the state’s seven regional systems and, in turn, promised a trickle-down reduction in services for public libraries.
On Monday, February 29, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill that would authorize the enlistment of outside parties—collection agencies, or, in some cases, the police—to help recover late fees, fines, and unreturned materials for that state’s libraries, a problem that reportedly cost $3.5 million in the last year alone.
In Michigan, a new law that if signed by the governor will restrict the sharing of ballot information prior to voting has alarmed librarians and allies, who are calling for action. In a surprising last-minute vote on December 16 in Lansing, the Michigan house and senate acted in concert to send several bills to Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI). Among them was an amended version of Senate Bill 571, a finance reform measure, which included new language prohibiting libraries and other public resources from transmitting information about local ballot initiatives for 60 days prior to an election.
Librarians have MUCH to be proud of in the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The long-awaited rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, most recently also known as No Child Left Behind) sailed though both the Senate and House to arrive in front of President Obama, making it one of the few signs of functional bipartisanship in a rough year for getting stuff done on the hill. As the president signed ESSA into law on December 10, he referred to its arrival as “a Christmas miracle.”
A bill that would place every library in Nebraska under the direct control of its city rather than a board of trustees is likely to be considered by that state’s legislature this winter, state senator Tyson Larson (R-40) told LJ. Such a bill, if passed and signed into law, would give municipalities of every size the power to manage library budgets, set hours, and hire and fire directors.
On July 29 the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) unanimously passed S. 779, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act by voice vote. The bill, which calls for public access to taxpayer-funded research, was marked up to bring it into line with the existing White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) policy memorandum and current National institutes of Health (NIH) policy, and will now move to the full Senate for consideration.
After 14 months of deliberations, the Barack Obama Foundation (BOF) chose the University of Chicago to host the Barack Obama Presidential Center (OPC) on Chicago’s South Side. The four finalists, selected from a pool of 13 applicants in September 2014, were New York’s Columbia University, the University of Hawaii (UH), the University of Chicago (UC), and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).