CALL held its second business meeting of the year at Wildfire Restaurant. CALL President, Maribel Nash, opened the meeting by thanking the Meetings Committee co-chairs, Beth Schubert and Jesse Bowman. Maribel welcomed a new CALL member, Sara Lock.
CALL Vice-President/President-Elect Margaret Schilt then introduced and thanked the meeting sponsor, Bloomberg BNA. Kevin Skrzysowski, Midwest Regional Director of Bloomberg Law, spoke briefly. Kevin noted that, as of January 1, 2014, Bloomberg Law and BNA will be fully combined as Bloomberg BNA.
Kevin highlighted some enhancements to the Bloomberg Law platform, including a corporate practice center and a labor arbitration awards navigator that lets a researcher filter by specific arbitrators. Kevin also noted that Bloomberg Law was adding breaking complaints from the Circuit Court of Cook County and a collection of books from James Publishing, which includes the Illinois Pretrial Practice and Procedure Handbook.
Margaret then introduced our speaker, Kip Kolkmeier. Mr. Kolkmeier is senior counsel to the Political Law and Government Relations practices at Perkins Coie in Chicago, and lobbyist for the Illinois Library Association (ILA), among other clients. He has been practicing law since 1988, after receiving a BA from Stanford University and a JD degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
He focuses his practice on legislative lobbying, corporate and governmental ethics, administrative rulemaking, executive agency lobbying, and state and federal campaign finance. Mr. Kolkmeier spoke on important Illinois legislative issues for librarians.
Mr. Kolkmeier first spoke on the importance of pension reform to public funding. He stated that the $100 billion in unfunded pension liability prevents the state from spending money on services. He said the Illinois General Assembly is currently trying to fix pension funding by taking away some existing benefits.
However, Mr. Kolkmeier noted, the Illinois Constitution states that public retirement system benefits “shall not be diminished or impaired.” Mr. Kolkmeier explained that, in order to be constitutional, there must be adequate consideration given in exchange for reducing benefits.
Mr. Kolkmeier then discussed particular pieces of legislation recently considered by the General Assembly. He started with the recently passed bill on marriage equality. He noted that the legislators had done something interesting to get the bill passed.
He said that there was pressure on the Democrats to make same sex marriage legal immediately, but that would have required a super majority. Thus, Mr. Kolkmeier explained, the bill was amended to make it effective next June, a vote that only required a simple majority.
However, Mr. Kolkmeier noted, in January, it will only take a simple majority to make the legislation effective immediately. Hence, Mr. Kolkmeier predicted, the General Assembly will likely vote in January to make the law effective sooner than June 2014.
Mr. Kolkmeier then discussed the new concealed carry legislation. He said the Illinois Library Association wanted to ensure that the bill would contain the ability to prohibit firearms in public libraries, universities, primary and secondary schools, and community colleges.
Mr. Kolkmeier noted that the law prohibits firearms in all of the places the ILA wanted, and he listed several other areas where firearms are prohibited, including bars where over 50 percent of the revenue comes from the sale of alcohol, stadiums, and casinos. Mr. Kolkmeier further noted that any individual property owner can declare a prohibition on firearms on their property, but must post a sign.
Transparency & Cost Concerns
Mr. Kolkmeier then discussed the continued tension in Springfield between transparency and cost. He noted that the same legislator will say she wants the state to put every document online and also say she is opposed to tax increases. Mr. Kolkmeier noted that the library community is conflicted because we are committed to access to information, but we acknowledge the realities of operations.
He said that a recent bill shows a good way to compromise. Senate Bill 1900, sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), requires that all taxpayer-funded academic research should be publicly available. Mr. Kolkmeier said that Senator Biss worked with the university and library communities to figure out a way to do this, and the legislation that passed allows each institution to create a task force to analyze how to meet the goal of making the research publicly available.
Related to issues of transparency, Mr. Kolkmeier discussed how libraries can be disrupted by legitimate Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and “FOIA bombs,” attempts to place repeated FOIA requests for an unwieldy amount of information. Mr. Kolkmeier noted that, in an electronic age, there is more information available and fewer things are discrete documents, a situation FOIA was not written to address.
Mr. Kolkmeier then returned to discussing specific pieces of legislation by commenting on the progress of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) in Illinois. He said UELMA is very important because it would ensure that what officials say is the record is accurate and updated.
Beyond the currency of what’s online, Mr. Kolkmeier noted that the state also needs to provide information to trace a law back through different versions. Mr. Kolkmeier noted that people are frustrated to see government websites that announce that they provide the law, but include a disclaimer that you should not rely on the law you see.
Mr. Kolkmeier reported that stakeholders showed up at the law’s hearing and said it would be hard to comply with. Mr. Kolkmeier said that he senses that there has been progress in addressing their concerns, and he hopes to see it dealt with in the next legislative session.
Mr. Kolkmeier noted that upholding intellectual freedom is always a challenge to the library community. He gave an example from the Orland Park Public Library. He said that an individual who does not reside in the library area has complained about unfiltered Internet access on library computers. Mr. Kolkmeier said he has dealt with 14 bills requiring all public libraries have to have filters on all staff and public computers.
Mr. Kolkmeier explained that the ILA’s position is that it should be a local determination by library trustees and professional librarians. He said some legislators accept that, but some do not. In another example of legislation with a difficult balance for intellectual freedom, Mr. Kolkmeier discussed the California “eraser statute” passed last year.
The law says that minors can contact a website directed to minors and request to remove information posted by the minor. He noted that a parent or guardian can take over the account, and said it is difficult to explain to legislators that even kids have constitutional protections.
He said Illinois considered a similar bill on anonymous posting last year. The bill said if anyone posted anything on the Internet anonymously, anyone who objected could demand that it be removed unless that person identified themselves.
House Bill 3111
Mr. Kolkmeier mentioned another piece of legislation in Illinois of possible interest to libraries, House Bill 3111, an initiative from the Illinois Supreme Court to support self-help centers for pro se litigants, especially veterans. Mr. Kolkmeier reported that the ILA and others have supported court fee increases, but he noted that higher court fees may eventually price people out of the court system.
Mr. Kolkmeier then took questions from the members present. One member asked if the concealed carry law excluded airports. Mr. Kolkmeier answered that firearms are excluded in airports because airports are under federal oversight. Another member asked if the airport in Peotone would ever be built. Mr. Kolkmeier said they were likely to acquire enough land and start building it.
He said that the General Assembly actually settled the biggest issue in the last legislative session when they created a governance structure for the airport. Mr. Kolkmeier noted that airlines have been skeptical that anyone would fly out of Peotone. He gave MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, an airport in Belleville, Illinois, as an example of an airport that was built and not patronized, noting that people still fly out of Lambert Airport in St. Louis instead.
Another member asked if he was aware of any organized opposition or coherent arguments against UELMA. Mr. Kolkmeier said the opposition to the bill generally centers on cost and staffing.
Mr. Kolkmeier ended his talk by remarking that he feels passionately about the mission of the library community. He said libraries play a fundamentally important role in society and that needs to be understood among policy makers. He stated that it is everyone’s job to make sure they understand.
Maribel thanked Mr. Kolkmeier for speaking to the membership and for his efforts in Springfield.
Four committees made announcements. Jessie LeMar, co-chair of the Community Service Committee, told the members present that the monetary donation was for the Honor Flight Network, a group that takes World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the World War II Memorial. Jessie then explained that the in-kind donation is for A Safe Haven, which provides transitional housing and services for veterans. She thanked the members for their donations.
Kevin McClure, Bulletin co-editor, announced that the winter issue of the Bulletin is coming out in December. He noted that the Bulletin was introducing a new feature interviewing new CALL members, and reintroducing a feature from years ago, a “Where Are They Now?” column interviewing former CALL members who have left the area. He encouraged members with someone in mind for that column to conduct an interview and write it up. Finally, Kevin encouraged people who are not part of a CALL committee to share their thoughts on the Bulletin.
Maribel spoke on behalf of Therese Clarke Arado and the Archives Committee, reminding committee chairs to submit their documents to the committee.
Julia Jackson, chair of the Nominations & Elections Committee, announced the slate of nominees for the 2014-2015 CALL Executive Board Election.
- For Vice- President/President-Elect, the candidates are Deborah Ginsberg from Chicago-Kent and Julie Pabarja from DLA Piper.
- For Treasurer, the candidates are Stephanie Crawford of Schiff Hardin and Valerie Kropf of DLA Piper.
- For Director, the candidates are Jesse Bowman from Valparaiso and Robert Martin from Chicago-Kent.
Maribel further reported that the election would open on February 18, 2014 and close on March 15, 2014. Maribel then thanked the Nominations & Elections Committee for their outstanding work.
Maribel reminded the AALL members present to vote in the AALL election and noted that polls close on December 2nd.
Maribel told the members that the next CALL Business Meeting would be on February 27, 2014 at Mike Ditka’s Restaurant, a new venue. Maribel and Margaret then thanked LexisNexis for sponsoring the door prize and drew the winners.
The meeting adjourned at 1:22pm.