Posted: January 12, 2009 • LEGISLATIVE ISSUES NETWORK

In this issue

  1. 81st Legislature and the Race for Speaker of the House
  2. Legislative Day
  3. Library Issues

The 81st Legislature and the Race for Speaker of the House
The 81st Texas Legislative Session begins tomorrow, Tuesday, January 13, 2009. The biggest news coming from the Capitol is the likely change in leadership in the Texas House of Representatives. The House is poised to elect Rep. Joe Straus (R- San Antonio) as the new Speaker of the House.

Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland), Speaker since 2003, will surrender the gavel because his three terms have been marked by polarizing politics. Fueled by support from 72 Democrats, Rep. Straus said he seeks to lead from the center and restore civility, fairness, and transparency in the House. The House, made up of 76 Republicans and 74 Democrats, will consider many critical issues this session, including business taxes, property taxes, and funding for public schools.

Legislative Day
We need you in Austin, February 25, 2009, for TLA's Legislative Day! This event is crucial to the library community. It is our time to gather and make the case to lawmakers that library funding and issues deserve a priority in state policy.

To register for Legislative Day, members and non-members can go to TLA's event registration page. Select the Legislative Day option and complete the full form. There is no registration fee. If you prefer to fax back a registration form, you can download a PDF form.

Also, be sure to make your hotel reservation now. The TLA special rate for Feb. 24 and 25 is $139 for a single/double, $164 for triple, and $189 for a quad. The firm hotel deadline is January 23. To make a reservation, call the Hyatt (512/477-1234 or 800/223-1234) and ask for the Texas Library Association group rate.

This year, we are also adding a special program to TLA's legislative briefings on the afternoon of February 24, 2009. TLA is about to launch the findings of a statewide survey of Texas registered voters and their opinions about public and school libraries. The results are OVERWHELMING in the intense support of Texans for libraries and for increasing funding. We will have a special session devoted to the full findings of the survey and how the survey can be used locally.

Schedule of Events

  • February 24, 2009, 4 to 5 pm: TLA Statewide Poll Overview
  • February 24, 2009, 7 to 9 pm: Delegate Training
  • February 25, 2009 8 am to 5 pm: Visits at the Capitol
  • February 25, 2009 8 am to 9 am: Summary briefing

Library Issues
This year's legislative platform includes initiatives to secure additional funds for libraries (about $30 million) through TexShare, the K-12 database program, Loan Star Libraries, and the Library Systems and to update state policy to recognize the need for quality school library programs on every campus.

We need you to join us in making the case for libraries. Please contact your representative and senator today. Elected officials need to hear from their constituents back home. Tell your elected officials about the invaluable work your library does for your campus, community, and constituents. Ask your friends groups, local PTA, students, and support groups to contact offices also. Provide legislative offices with real life stories about your library’s impact on learning, education, workforce development, and quality of life. Ask your senator and representative to support increased funding for libraries.

For talking points and specific information about the TLA Legislative Platform, go to the 81St Session Overview and the various individual funding and policy initiatives.