272: Contact Senators NOW, Telecom Bill, and House Markup

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Posted: March 10, 2011


In this issue:

  1. Contact Senators Now
  2. Telecommunications Bill
  3. Budget Markups

I. Contact Senators NOW!

The Senate Finance Committee met on Monday to consider the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s budget. Senators heard testimony about TexShare, Loan Star Libraries, the K-12 Databases, and the impact of losing  federal funds for library programs. Several representatives from TLA and stakeholder groups, including the Texas Municipal League and Texas PTA, offered testimony. Sen. Zaffirini asked many important questions about the ramifications of eliminating state funding for library programs. Sen. Whitmire cautioned many witnesses to “put a face on the cuts.”

As Senate Finance Committee members deliberate on the State Library’s budget, it is imperative that senators hear from constituents and stakeholder groups. Please call or send an email to your senator. Click on Protect Statewide Library Program and make your case for state support of library programs.

TLA also encourages you to get your stakeholder groups to email all members of the Senate Finance Committee.

Senate Finance Committee Members

steve.ogden@senate.state.tx.us; juan.hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us; robert.deuell@senate.state.tx.us; robert.duncan@senate.state.tx.us; kevin.eltife@senate.state.tx.us; craig.estes@senate.state.tx.us; eddie.lucio@senate.state.tx.us; jane.nelson@senate.state.tx.us; dan.patrick@senate.state.tx.us; kel.seliger@senate.state.tx.us; florence.shapiro@senate.state.tx.us; royce.west@senate.state.tx.us; john.whitmire@senate.state.tx.us; tommy.williams@senate.state.tx.us; Judith.zaffirini@senate.state.tx.us.

II. Telecommunications Bill

The Senate Committee on Business and Industry heard testimony from many educational groups on SB 773 (Zaffirini) on March 8. TLA took the lead in moving this legislation forward. This bill extends the statewide telecommunications discount program for 12 years.  (For additional information, see Texline 271 and telecommunications discount program.)

During the committee hearing, Chairman Carona noted that telecommunications providers (such as AT&T and Verizon) that opposed the bill should work with Sen. Zaffirini to come up with a plan to continue the discount program for eligible entities. The Chairman noted that many members were very sympathetic to the financial plights of schools, libraries, and institutions of higher education. Sen. Zaffirini described the deep need for the discount program and championed the continuation of this irreplaceable means of keeping broadband affordable at public institutions.

Senators Estes and Jackson had several questions over the ongoing need for the program. We ask library supporters who are constituents of Senators Estes and Jackson to write to them and let them know of the value of the discount program for local libraries, schools, and institutions of higher education.

The Committee left the bill pending with plans to take up the measure within the next two week.  Please send a message to legislators about the telecommunications discount program. Click on keep broadband affordable.

Committee members include: john.carona@senate.state.tx.us; chris.harris@senate.state.tx.us; kevin.eltife@senate.state.tx.us; craig.estes@senate.state.tx.us; mike.jackson@senate.state.tx.us; eddie.lucio@senate.state.tx.us; leticia.vandeputte@senate.state.tx.us; kirk.watson@senate.state.tx.us; john.whitmire@senate.state.tx.us.

III. House Budget Markup

The House Appropriations Committee received recommendations from the Education Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Scott Hochberg. The subcommittee recommended a few technical corrections and adjustments and a decrease of $6.6 million to the Service Centers (with that funding moving to the School for the Deaf and School for the Blind). The subcommittee also pended the appropriation for state assessment and the Wyndam School District. The subcommittee did not add any new funds to public education (and no funds for the K-12 Databases). The subcommittee recommendations adhered to the initial framework for cutting $9.8 billion from public education as incorporated into HB 1 as introduced.

The subcommittee did not fund any new requests, including the three priority items laid out by Commissioner Robert Scott. Those priority items included additional funding for the Foundation School Program and the instructional materials allotment (to pay for textbooks on which students are slated to be tested next year). Rep. Hochberg noted he filed legislation to conform school finance formulas to available revenue and to give districts added flexibility “assuming no added revenue.” He noted he hopes the legislation is not needed.

The House is likely to consider HB 1 within the coming two weeks.

 

KEEP CONTACTING LEGISLATORS! 

Your letters are making an impact! Go to the TLA advocacy webpage to see the open letters to the library community written by Rep. Castro and Rep. Muñoz.

The budget process is far from over, and library supporters are urged to continue contacting elected officials (in both the House and Senate) about the need to restore library funding. We must keep contacting elected officials throughout the session.·         

  • Go to: TAKE ACTION! Recruit friends and supporters to send messages.
  • Join the Save Libraries Cause on Facebook and get other to act.
  • Sign the Save Libraries petition.
  • Send faxes and make phone calls.
  • Post messages on social media sites.

Here’s a sample Facebook message (with links).

Texas Library Association <http://www.facebook.com/TexasLibraryAssociation>  Take Action NOW!! This link is set up to send an email to your legislators. You can customize your message to describe the negative impact of budget cuts. Pass this link along to everyone and anyone to have them send an email to help restore library funding.

Library Issues & Taking Action | Texas Library Association <http://capwiz.com/ala/tx/issues/alert/?alertid=22992501&amp;PROCESS=Take+Action>


TEXLINE is an irregular e-newsletter that is sent whenever state library-related policy or legislative action is occurring. To subscribe to Texline, send an email to gloriam@txla.org and specify that you would like to be added to the Texline list. You can follow TLA legislative news during the session on Twitter.

To subscribe to Texline, send an email to gloriam@txla.org and specify that you would like to be added to the Texline list.

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Created on Mar 10, 2011 | Last updated March 10, 2011