The Legislative Committee held a conference call meeting on December 13, 2004. In attendance were Leslie Ludena (San Francisco Opera), Hal Ponder ( AFM Legislative Director), Helen Reich (Milwaukee), Laura Ross (Nashville), Leslie Shank (Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra), and Nancy Stutsman (Kennedy Center Orchestra). Hal Ponder started the meeting by detailing what our challenges in Congress will be this session.
Copyright legislation dealing with piracy will be reintroduced. Although similar legislation did not pass last session, it now has more bipartisan support. The overtime pay issue will come up again and is already being worked on by the AFL-CIO. We need to deal with the issue of media concentration now that consolidation has been made easier. This has led to less airtime for many types of music, forcing some artists to perform for free in exchange for playtime. Another important topic for all of us is airline carry-on luggage. Hal Ponder and Eric Beers are currently working with twelve major carriers to change their policies so that the measurement of musical instruments would be in linear inches rather than in cubic inches. Delta has recently changed their policy to allow for linear inches, however their limit needs to be increased.
Our first consideration for this legislative session, however, is likely to be pension reform. The Republicans are very likely to have a new bill in February. Our challenge will be to get multi-employer pension relief into that bill, something that we aimed for last session but were unable to accomplish. We all agreed that, in addition to fighting off negative attacks against multi-employer funds (the true purpose of which is union busting), we need to enlist our boards and managements to write to our senators and representatives, since multi-employer pension relief is beneficial to the employers as well as to the employees.
We will also be active in organizing resolutions and bylaw language for the national AFM convention in July. We will need volunteers to help us keep track of AFM board members/officers who are members of ICSOM orchestras.
Hal also mentioned that Arts Advocacy Day, in Washington, would be March 15th this year. There will be workshops and preparation on the 14th, and the 15th will be used for lobbying. Last year’s topics included NEA funding and Canadian musician visas.
Finally, the committee strongly urges anyone who is interested in helping with these important national issues to please join us on this committee. I think we can all agree that we can gain strength in numbers and from a unity of efforts. If you are interested, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
Leslie Shank is a violinist with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Leslie and Nancy Stutsman (Kennedy Center Orchestra) are co-chairs of ICSOM’s Legislative Committee.