Texline 293: Legislative Update

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TEXLINE 293
Posted: April 10, 2013


Table of Contents

  1. Budget Update
  2. Recent Action on Bills

I. BUDGET UPDATE

The full House of Representatives finalized its version of the state budget (SB 1, or the Appropriations Bill) on Thursday, April 4. The two library amendments proposed by Reps. Gutierrez and Cortez did not alter the existing recommendations.

Rep. Gutierrez’s amendment, which sought to fund the State Library’s proposed exceptional item for library partnerships for innovation grants, was tabled. The Cortez amendment was withdrawn early in the proceedings and then reintroduced later. While the reintroduced amendment did pass, the action essentially just affirmed that the funding initiative (adding $2 million to the State Library’s funding recommendation for Shared Digital Content) be included in Article XI of the budget. Please note that Article XI is a “wish list” of sorts for potential funding priorities, but items included there are not considered funded, although legislators may consider these items for funding until the overall completion of the state budget if additional funding become available.

The Texas Library Association deeply appreciates Representatives Gutierrez and Cortez for their absolute commitment to libraries and their leadership in promoting funding for libraries.

The finalized House version of the budget funds the State Library’s current funding PLUS $7,250,000 for Shared Digital Content (amount includes funding for TexShare, K-12 database access, and additional e-content). The agency requested a total of $9,250,000 for this item. The $2 million not funded in this request was listed in Article XI of the proposed state budget. As noted, other items placed in Article XI: $3,400,000 for the Partnerships for Innovation Grants for all types of libraries; a combined $1,450,000 for archives staff; and $64,000 increase (over the biennium) for the salary of the State Librarian.

The Senate version of the budget recommends for the State Library’s current funding PLUS $7,496,992 for Shared Digital Content (amount includes funding for TexShare, K-12 database access, and additional e-content) and $1,250,000 for archives staff. Other items placed Article XI: $1,753,008 for Shared Digital Content (amount not funded in the agency’s budget); $3,400,000 for the Partnerships for Innovation Grants for all types of libraries; and $200,000 for archives staff.

Next Stages: The House and Senate will reconcile the differences between their respective versions of the budget. This process happens through a specially-appointed conference committee. As many library funding initiatives are contained in Article XI of the budget,  library supporters must remain active and continue to advocate for funding. The conference committee will likely begin shortly.

The Ongoing Message: Please ask your legislators to support libraries by voting to fund initiatives supporting statewide library programs through the State Library and Archives Commission.

These programs are:

  1. Shared Digital Content for all types of libraries. Resources include curriculum materials, college preparation, research, job searching, career and test preparation, and other assistance in helping people reach their economic goals.
  2. Innovation Partnership Grants for training and programming  are built on local partnerships and innovative practices to advance educational attainment, workforce development, and written and digital literacy.

Why we need this funding:

  • Texas libraries are struggling since the loss of statewide funding last session.
  • The partial restoration of state funds will help deploy the workforce and educational resources Texans have come to rely upon.
  • Without a reinstatement of state funds, the State Library may be unable to make a successful case to the federal government for a continuation of crucially needed federal dollars for Texas libraries.  Because of the state cuts last session, Texas may lose up to another $9 million in federal funds in 2015! We need these funds to support TexShare, library programming, and interlibrary loan.

Combined, these items come to less than half of what was cut from library services last year.  But if funded, libraries will be able to continue state programming in 2014-15 and be in a position to continue to receive the state’s full allocation of federal funds.

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II. Recent Movement on Bills

To access the language of the bills, go to: www.capitol.state.tx.us and click the bill search radio button and enter the bill number.

HB 2760 (Branch)/SB 922: Allows Texas Technical State College and Community Colleges to partner for the delivery of technical education, including the sharing of library resources. The statute would remove any statutory barriers that might prevent such collaboration. Left pending in Higher Education on 4/3/13.

HB 2826 (King of Hemphill): Extends existing state telecommunications discount from January 1, 2016, to January 1, 2020. Referred to State Affairs.

HB 2902 (Thompson): Adds statutory language to allow a county library to establish the regulations for library fines, including collections and civil penalties. Referred to County Affairs.

SB 286 (Hinojosa)/ HB 1029 (Bonnen): Includes professional educator (definition specifies full-time librarians as specified in the Education Code) as eligible for affordable housing loan program. Senate: Placed on local and uncontested calendar.

SB 583 (Carona): Repeals Section 56.025 of the Utilities Code and creates a commission to study the need for including Internet, high-speed Internet, or broadband services through the Universal Service Fund. Left pending in Business and Commerce. Committee substitute reported favorably. The language about a commission was removed.

SB 667 (Seliger): Requires the State Library to undertake a study on the feasibility of collecting published research. Considered in Open Government.

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TEXLINE is an irregular e-newsletter that is sent whenever state library-related policy or legislative action is occurring. 

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Created on Apr 10, 2013 | Last updated April 10, 2013