TLA TEXLINE NO. 240
Posted: March 17, 2009 • LEGISLATIVE ISSUES NETWORK

In this issue:

  1. Budget Update and CALL TO ACTION: HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
  2. Budget Committee Members
  3. Federal Stimulus Funding
  4. Update on Bills
  5. Legislative Day Review

Budget Update: The state budget committees are finalizing their respective budget proposals.

The House Appropriations Committee

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government designated that funding requests for databases, Loan Star Libraries, and Systems be included in Article XI of the state’s budget. Article XI is basically a “pending area.” We must ask all committee members to fund these programs and include them in the approved budget for the State Library.

The full House Appropriation Committee is expected to consider the State Library’s budget this Thursday.

CALL TO ACTION: We urge library supporters to contact their representatives if they serve on the House Appropriations Committee. Ask them to support funding for library programs. We need them to: approve funding the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s exceptional item requests for: 1) Library Resource Sharing (includes requests for TexShare and the K-12 databases); 2) Loan Star Libraries, direct aid grants to local public libraries; and 3) the Regional Library Systems. The State Library budget is part of General Gov't, (Article I).

Please take just a few minutes to email your representative about these programs. Explain why these programs are important to the people in your community. If your representative serves on the committee, it is critical that you write his/her office. (See Section II below for a contact list of Appropriations Committee members.)

If your representative does not serve on the committee, please email their office and ask your representative to talk with Chairman Pitts and others on the Appropriations Committee to express support for library funding.

We must absolutely make sure that representatives hear from their constituents.

Senate Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee accepted workgroup recommendations to increase the Loan Star Libraries program by $3 million over the biennium, increase the Systems program by $1 million over the biennium, and increase funding for the Talking Book Program by $275,000 over the biennium. A total of about $8.7 million over the biennium for TexShare and K-12 database content (combined amount) was placed in Article XI (pending but not approved).

The Senate Finance Committee recommendations are very positive. The task for library advocates now is to try to assure that both the House and Senate approve increased funding for library programs. The Senate Finance Committee as a whole is still meeting.

CALL TO ACTION:If you senator serves on the Finance Committee, please email his or her office, thank them for their support of Loan Star Libraries and Systems (especially thank Article I workgroup members Sens. Hinojosa, Averitt, and Harris), and ask that library databases funding put in Article XI (for the Texas State Library and Archives Commission budget, Article 1) be moved to Article 1 and included in the final bill. Essentially, we are asking them to fund TexShare and the K-12 databases also.

Budget Committee Members

Members of the House Appropriations Committee

Finance Committee members


Federal Stimulus Bill

The Texas Library Association is working to promote library eligibility for state stimulus funds. Rhoda Goldberg, director of the Harris County Public Library, is chairing TLA’s Committee on Economic Stabilization Funding.

Information, including a breakdown of potential federal and state dollars that may affect libraries, is available online. Please check for updates. Also, note that the Texas Comptroller has an extended spreadsheet showing the latest information regarding all components of stimulus funding regarding Texas. See http://www.cpa.state.tx.us/finances/stimulus/EstimatedStimulusImpactonTexas.pdf.

State Librarian Peggy Rudd is scheduled to appear before the House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding to discuss the wide array of programs and services that libraries of all types can undertake through stimulus funding. The hearing may be heard online on Wednesday, March 18 on the Texas House of Representatives website at www.house.state.tx.us/media/welcome.php. The hearing is scheduled to start at 2 pm. Check www.house.state.tx.us/committees/bycmte.php?startDate=today&endDate=week&committeeCode=C272 for updated schedules.

Update on Bills

TLA Bills

  • HB 962 (Guillen): Clarifies existing statute regarding the purchase and acquisition of library materials at community colleges. Heard in Higher Education, 3/11/09. Left pending.
  • HB 3756 (Howard)/ SB 2042 (Ellis): Updates, clarifies, and amends statutes related to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The bill, filled at the request of TLA and TSLAC, updates language related to the library systems, the TexShare program, Talking Book Program, records management provisions, archival records and the state’s right of recovery, and the Texas Reads license plate program. Filed.

Other Bills

  • HB (Alonzo): Requires that the State Library require that any library serving a community of 50,000 or more provide high speed Internet access to the public. Heard in Technology, Economic Development and the Workforce, 3/2/09. Left pending.
  • HB (Dutton): Specifies that TEA must consider if a school district provides a school librarian on every campus as part of the accountability rating for a district. Referred to House Public Education.
  • HB 1817 (Rose): Specifies that a county or library district is also eligible to request and receive state tax and legal information. Referred to Ways and Means.
  • HB 2887 (Martinez): Creates a literacy center pilot program through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in a community college, which must partner with local entities, including libraries. Referred to House Higher Education.
  • HB 3215 (Farias): Establishes a down payment assistance program (up to $4000 in the form of deferred forgivable second lien loans) for educators (including school librarians) serving in low-wealth districts. Filed.
  • HB 3491 (Zerwas): Relates to the creation and dissolution of all or part of a library district. The bill allows the dissolution of some districts (or parts thereof) and/or repeal of dedicated taxes without an election. Filed.
  • HB 3562 (Coleman): Requires the State Library to impose a minimum three year retention period for state electronic records. Filed.
  • HB 4428 (Hernandez): Makes adjunct faculty members who are professional librarians at public institutions of higher education eligible to participate in the group benefits program available to other adjunct faculty members. Filed.

Legislative Day Review

TLA held it biennial Legislative Day on February 24 and 25, 2009 in Austin. This two-day event showcased library legislative issues, and over 200 library supporters from around the state participated. All delegates were trained on the issues and then attended visits with legislators and their staffs at the Capitol.

This event featured a special presentation on TLA’s recent public opinion poll, which offered wonderful statistics on the overwhelming public support for Texas libraries. Delegates used this information in their meetings with legislative offices. The gathering was capped off with an informal get-together at Scholtz Garten, where delegates discussed the day’s activities and swapped stories. One delegate leader recounted how she started collecting business cards from senators pledging their support for libraries.

TLA is grateful to our Legislative Day sponsors: EBSCO Information Services, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Lee and Low Books, and ProQuest. With their assistance, TLA was able to produce valuable and Texas specific information to deliver to elected officials.

We also offer our sincere gratitude to all of the volunteers, delegates, and delegate leaders who traveled to Austin to participate in this crucial event. It is your voice that makes the difference.