Texline 275: Budget and Bill Update

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Posted: April 4, 2011


In this issue:

I. Budget Update

II. Bill Update

III. Keep Contacting Legislators


I. Budget Update

The House met Friday and Sunday to consider the proposed House version of the state’s budget (HB 1). After many hours of debate and hundreds of amendments, House members shifted some funds in a few areas of the budget.  Representatives Rafael Anchía (Dallas), Roland Gutierrez (San Antonio), and David Simpson (Longview) put forward amendments to try and restore funding to libraries.  As a result of these efforts, contingency language for Loan Star Libraries (a restoration of $3 million/biennium) and $250,000 for the K-12 databases were placed in Article XI of the budget. This action does not denote funding; rather, Article XI is considered a sort of “wish list” so that, if additional funding does become available, programs in Article XI are prioritized.

This action keeps these library programs opened for continued consideration. TLA is extremely grateful to Reps. Gutierrez, Anchía, and Simpson for their leadership and persistent commitment throughout the budget debate to put forward amendments despite the many procedural hurdles involved. We ask the library community to please contact the offices of these legislators and thank them for their hard work on behalf of libraries.

One action of note was the amendment offered by Rep. Anchía which would have actually funded part of Loan Star in the State Library’s budget (Article I). While chief budget writers (Chairman Jim Pitts and Rep. John Otto) accepted the proposed amendment, several legislators spoke against moving funding from other parts of the budget to public libraries.  The amendment did not pass on a record vote. Please note that some legislators who voted against the amendment expressed their support for libraries but felt they could not vote for a transfer of funds. While the tally of yeas and nays is not yet official, an unofficial roster of the vote is available at: Vote (unofficial) to Appropriate Funds to Article I for Public Libraries. As we continue our communications with all state legislators throughout this process, it is important to maintain a productive and reasoned tone. The budget passed the House late Sunday night.

The full Senate will soon consider the Finance Committee’s proposed version of the budget. Once the Senate finalizes its draft, a conference committee will be named (with key members from both chambers) to finalize the budget.

KEEP CONTACTING LEGISLATORS! 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! to send an email. Please customize the message.

II. Bill Update

SB 773 (Zaffirini)/ HB 3258  (Strama): The bill extends the state’s telecommunications discount for libraries, schools, and higher education. The Senate bill (SB 773), which was presented at a hearing on March 8, is still in committee. We need this bill to be voted out of committee and passed by both chambers. (For additional information, see Texline 271 and telecommunications discount program.) To send an email in support of this legislation, click on keep broadband affordable. HB 3258 was not heard in committee as the text of the bill has been substituted into Rep. Gallego’s bill HB 2765, which was heard in committee on March 30 and was left pending.

Other Bills Supported by TLA

HB 493 (Dutton): Relating to evaluation under the public school accountability system of the delivery of library resources. The measure would give the Commissioner of Education the option of including the delivery of library resources as a criterion for district accreditation. Last Action02/17/2011 H Referred to Public Education. To send an email to legislators on the value of school librarians, click on School Librarians ARE Teachers.

HB 1505 (Munoz, Jr.)/ SB 784 (Hinojosa): Relating to librarians employed by school districts. The measure outlines that districts may employ a certified school librarian for campuses of over 500 students. Last Action referred to education committees. To send an email to legislators on the value of school librarians, click on School Librarians ARE Teachers.

HB 1394 (Castro): Relating to reports concerning the number of full-time librarians, counselors, and school nurses who are employed at a public school. The measure would require that campuses and districts report the number of listed full-time employees and include student ratio information. Last Action03/01/2011 referred to Public Education. To send an email to legislators on the value of school librarians, click on School Librarians ARE Teachers.

HB 2139 (Guillen): Relating to authorizing the State Library to create an “Adopt-a-Library” program. Last Action: 4/3/11 House Committee report send to Local and Consent Calendar.

HB 3283(Guillen): Relating to the authority of certain development corporations to undertake projects with respect to community libraries. Last Action: 03/18/2011 H Referred to Urban Affairs.

SB 834 (Deuell)/HB 2765 (Gallego, Chisum): Relating to the update of discounted telecommunication services provided to educational institutions, libraries, hospitals, and health centers. This measure adds a health entity for discount eligibility and amends the a portion of statute to extend the discounts until 2020. Last ActionThe Senate bill was heard in Committee (3/8/11); left pending.

Bills Being Monitored

HB 209 (Alonzo) : Relating to providing Internet access in certain local public libraries. Last Action02/21/2011 Pulled from hearing schedule.

HB 3367 (White): Relating to the repeal of the laws authorizing the imposition of ad valorem taxes, the rates and expansion of the applicability of state and local sales and use taxes, the distribution of sales and use tax revenue to entities formerly imposing ad valorem taxes, and the replacement of ad valorem tax revenue in relation to financing public schools. Note some impact to library districts. Last Action03/18/2011 H Referred to Ways & Means.

 SB 1488  (West): Relating to the purchasing and contracting practices of junior college districts; providing criminal penalties. The bill includes (TLA supported) statutory language permitting exceptions for library purchases. Last Action03/22/2011 S Referred to Higher Education.

 HB 2879 (King, Phil):  Relating to the abolishment of the Texas Historical Commission and the transfer of its duties to the Parks and Wildlife Commission, the General Land Office, and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Last Action03/17/2011 H Referred to State Affairs.

III. KEEP CONTACTING LEGISLATORS!

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. The Conference Budget Committee will still have to finalize the budget in April and May. 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.
  • 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) to keep up the advocacy. 

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.  You can follow TLA legislative news during the session on Twitter.

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Created on Apr 4, 2011 | Last updated April 05, 2011