TLA TEXLINE NO. 248
Posted: May 12, 2009 • LEGISLATIVE ISSUES NETWORK

In this issue:

CALL TO ACTION: SB 1

The budget conference committee is finishing its work on the state General Appropriations Act (SB 1). The committee has already accepted the following recommendations: Loan Star Libraries - $3.5 million; Systems - $1.5 million; and Digital Talking Books - $275,000 (each item is for the biennium). We are very grateful to the conference committee members for their wonderful support of these library programs.

However, we need help with one more library initiative – Library Resource Sharing (which includes funding for TexShare and the K-12 databases). The requested increase in funding for TexShare and the K-12 databases has not been included.

URGENT CALL TO ACTION: If you haven’t already contacted members of the conference committee, please do so as soon as possible. We need conference committee members to understand the dire need to increase funding for TexShare and the K-12 database to meet inflationary costs. Without this additional funding, the State Library will not be able to afford the full current slate of resources now available for students and the public. Please note that the two programs (TexShare and the K-12 databases) are covered by the request for Library Resource Sharing.

The message:

Please appropriate at least $2.5 million for TexShare and the K-12 databases (Library Resource Sharing Services in the State Library’s budget in Article I). While both the House and Senate recommended funds in Article XI, these additional requests were not included as a final part of the State Library’s budget.

We ask that at least $2.5 million be allocated for library resource sharing to offset price increases in the K-12 and TexShare databases programs. Without this additional funding, students, communities, and institutions of higher education will lose some access to existing resources. This funding is needed simply to keep up with escalating program costs.

Be sure to explain in a couple of sentences why these databases are so important to the people and students who rely on them. Please email (individually) the members of the conference committee.

Bill Update

HB 3 (Eissler/ Sp. Shapiro): Relates to public school accountability, curriculum, and promotion requirements. Scheduled for the Senate Intent Calendar. The House version of this bill includes a provision that would authorize TEA to study the appropriateness of and methods for including library programs as a criteria for campus distinction designation. The conference committee on this bill will have final oversight as to whether that provision remains. Once the conference committee for this bill is named, library supporters will be urged to contact the conference committee members to urge them to keep that provision.
HB 962 (Guillen/Sp. Zaffirini): Clarifies existing statute regarding the purchase and acquisition of library materials at community colleges. Recommended for the Senate Local and Uncontested Calendar.
HB 3756 (Howard/ Sp. 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. Heard in Senate Government Organization Committee on 5/11.

Other Bills:

  • HB 185 (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. Left pending.
  • HB 915 (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. Left Pending in 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. Placed on House Local and Consent Calendar, 5/12.
  • HB 3491 (Zerwas): Allows the dissolution of some districts (or parts thereof) and/or repeal of dedicated taxes without an election. Referred to Senate Intergovernmental Relations.
  • HB 3562 (Coleman): Requires the State Library to impose a minimum three year retention period for state electronic records. Referred to House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee.
  • 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. Referred to House Committee on House Pension.

Stimulus Update

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act offers an opportunity for funding through local and federal grant applications. Unfortunately, details of how funding will be accessible remain vague. It appears that, for the most part, libraries and/or their parent organizations will have to apply directly for funds. Librarians are urged to speak with their local governing bodies (ISDs, city or county governments, or university or college administration) to see what plans (if any) exist for applying for funds. While education dollars have been allocated to institutions (primarily through formula allotments), local institutions must still determine how to use these funds in areas designated by the Act.

Librarians must be proactive in seeking opportunities to apply for funding or to make the case for inclusion in planned projects and programs. Partnerships and collaboration in applying for funds (especially from local workforce development boards) is especially recommended.

TLA’s stimulus webpage offers resource information and suggestions. Topics are divided by broad areas (e.g., broadband and education), and links to guidelines for oversight agencies (such at TEA and NTIA) are included. The page also includes links to state testimony on state goals, including those for higher education and ARRA funding.