During this year’s ILA conference, representatives of several statewide advocacy organizations, including the ILA’s Public Policy Committee, gave updates on pieces of legislation from the current Illinois General Assembly session that are especially relevant to libraries. The following bills, in particular, were of special concern to legislative advocates this year.
House Bill 3793-This is a an appropriations bill. It became law on June 30, although the Governor did veto a section. (The section did not cover libraries.) The legislation contains funding for a number of capital projects for libraries at the local level.
House Bill 3796-This bill would amend the Freedom of Information Act by defining what counts as a “voluminous request” and requiring that public bodies respond to such requests, with certain exceptions. The legislation was passed by both the House and the Senate, but it was vetoed by the Governor on June 27. The General Assembly could override the veto during the upcoming Fall Veto Session, which will run from November 19 to November 21 and from December 2 to December 4. (I will send out a separate alert closer to the Session.) Even if the General Assembly doesn’t hold a vote to override the veto, or if it does hold a vote but falls short of an override, the issue of voluminous requests will likely come up in the next legislative session.
House Bill 6095-This is another appropriations bill and was signed into law on June 30. Among the bill’s provisions is keeping library grant appropriations at the levels that have been requested by Secretary of State Jesse White. It is especially encouraging that funding levels were maintained for library grants, as funding for other programs and agencies was reduced.
Senate Bill 1941-This bill, which creates the “Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act”, became law on August 26. The Act improves access to legal materials produced by state agencies. It does so by creating a standardized electronic format, which aligns Illinois with national guidelines.
Senate Bill 2784-This legislation, which has not made it out of committee (it was sent to the Assignments Committee in March), would create the “Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act”. The focus of the Act would be to prevent library patrons from viewing anything that could be considered obscene material or child pornography. This legislation represents the eighteenth attempt by the Illinois General Assembly to require public libraries to install Internet filters on their computers. In addition to being a restriction on intellectual freedom, attempts to impose filters on libraries also represents a violation of local control. Opposition by library advocates was a key factor in this legislation’s not making it out of committee, but the issue of Internet filters almost certainly will not go away and could well be raised again in the next legislative session.
Senate Bill 3071-This legislation, which became law on August 15, makes several changes to the Local Library Act and the Public Library District Act of 1991. Specifically, the legislation stipulates that libraries are not required to accept the lowest contract bid for certain projects if the cost is greater than $20,000. This change is to ensure that the quality of the work being done in a project meets the affected library’s standards and expectations.
Senate Bill 3288-This bill, which became law on August 26, makes electronic copies of materials from General Assembly sessions more widely available.