Although Association of American Publishers CEO (and former Democratic congresswoman) Pat Schroeder acknowledged that many Republican members of Congress have been willing to listen to publishers' issues, she is nonetheless hopeful that the newly installed Democratic Congress will be more supportive of publisher concerns. American Booksellers Association COO Oren Teicher was also hopeful that the shift in leadership will lead to some victories for booksellers that the group just fell short of achieving in recent years.

The top priority for publishers is the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, a law pushed by the Bush administration that the educational publishing community has generally supported. NCLB is due to expire this September, but could be automatically renewed for one more year. The Higher Education Act, which has been extended several times, is now set to expire at the end of June. In both cases, the AAP hopes to see funding increase, although Schroeder noted that could be tricky if the Democrats adhere to their promise to finance programs without incurring new debt.

The association will also push for passage of the Orphan Works Act, a bill that would clarify how books whose owners can't be found can be used. Congress adjourned without passing the legislation last year, but Schroeder expects a similar bill to be introduced in the current session. No other copyright bills are in the hopper, which is fine with Schroeder. "We just want to make sure no bad [copyright] bills come up," she said.

Schroeder said that later in the year she expects some issues around the USA Patriot Act "to bubble up." In particular, issues involving reader privacy could make it to the floor of the Congress, especially since Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.), now head of the Judiciary Committee, has already said he plans to introduce legislation that repairs "the erosion of privacy." To encourage Leahy's efforts, the Campaign for Reader Privacy held a meeting earlier this month to plan a visit of booksellers, librarians and publishers to Leahy's office, said Teicher. Although last year's reauthorization of the Patriot Act made some concessions to publishing concerns, the FBI's ability to search bookstore and library records is far too broad, Teicher said. The CRP would like to see legislation that allows records searches only in cases of suspected terrorists. "Right now the FBI has the license to go on a fishing expedition," Teicher said.

Teicher is also hopeful that the Association Health Program may be passed. The program, which would permit trade associations to offer more affordable health insurance to small businesses, had bipartisan support last year, but ran into opposition from the insurance industry. With Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Nydia Velázquez now heading the relevant committees in the Senate and House, respectively, Teicher is optimistic the legislation will pass this year. A third item that should be viewed more favorably by the new Congress is the ABA's desire for Internet tax equity, which would require e-tailers to collect sales tax. Although the issue has faded somewhat since a number of e-tailers began collecting sales tax, Amazon still collects tax only where it has a physical nexus.

Teicher noted that all three of ABA's top legislative objectives had bipartisan support last year, "but not enough bipartisan support. With the shift in the makeup of the Congress and new committee chairs, we could make some progress."