2014 Public Service Award

Sen. Leahy accepts the Public Service Award from Vermont State Librarian Martha Reid. (Photo credit: Jacob Roberts.)The 2014 Public Service Award was presented to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) by Vermont State Librarian Martha Reid during National Library Legislative Day activities in Washington, D.C., on May 5, 2014. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) also received the award.

The ward was given for Leahy’s introduction of S. 1599, the USA FREEDOM Act, a companion bill to H.R. 3361 (also the USA FREEDOM Act). H.R. 3361 was introduced by Congressman Sensenbrenner.

The bill would require the government to make disclosures about the intelligence surveillance it conducts and establish a process for declassifying opinions issued by the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court. Additionally, the law would end the bulk collection of phone and other business records by the government of U.S. citizens, allow telecommunications and Internet companies to make public the number of FISA orders and national security letters received and complied with and allow those receiving a national security letter to immediately challenge it in court.

The ALA’s  involvement in privacy policies stems from the library principle to protect patron confidentiality. “We waited for more than a decade for privacy reforms of this magnitude,” said ALA President Barbara Stripling. “The public deserves more transparency and accountability than what we’ve been seeing from the Obama Administration. The library community welcomes this bipartisan effort because it shows us that reasonable privacy expectations are possible.”

Leahy was elected to the United States Senate in 1974 and remains the only Democrat elected to this office from Vermont.  At 34, he was the youngest U.S. senator ever to be elected from that state. Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is the senior-most member of the Appropriations Committee and of the Agriculture Committee, and chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. He ranks first in seniority in the Senate and is the President Pro Tempore.

Sensenbrenner was elected to the House of Representatives in 1978, and has been reelected since 1980. He serves on the Committee on Science and Technology and the Committee on the Judiciary.  Sensenbrenner is chairman of the Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Oversight Subcommittee.  He is also a member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and Internet, and the Subcommittees on Environment and Oversight.