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New Texas State Symbols, 2015

During the 84th Regular Session, lawmakers added seven new official state symbols to the more than 60 state symbols that represent Texas. Texas now has three official hashtags: #txlege, #Texas, and #TexasToDo. In addition, the cowboy hat is now the official state hat of Texas, the western honey bee is now the official state pollinator, "The Lone Star State" is now the official nickname of Texas, and the Texas gulf shrimp is now the official state crustacean.
See the entire collection of official Texas symbols on our Pinterest page, State Symbols of Texas. Each symbol includes an image, as well as a link to the resolution that designated it.
Did you know?  Three species of shrimp are native to the Texas gulf: the brown shrimp, the white shrimp, and the pink shrimp. Of those three, the brown shrimp is nocturnal, and Texas shrimpers must fish at night to catch them.  
Image of honeybee by flickr user autan.

Week in Review, August 27th

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • Read about McAllen's response to undocumented immigrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. (The Guardian, August 20, 2015)
  • Explore the economic outlook for retirement security by state. (National Institute on Retirement Security, released July 30, 2015)
  • Track commuters from where they live to where they work. (The Washington Post, August 18, 2015)
  • Consider gender pay gaps for top executives of public companies. (Federal Reserve Bank of New York, August 25, 2015)

Week in Review, August 20th

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • Consider prison population projections and demographic information on incarcerated populations. (Urban Institute, accessed August 19, 2015)
  • Read about the link between credit scores and auto insurance premiums. (Consumer Reports, ©2006-2015)
  • Review a snapshot of the U.S. economy. (Federal Reserve Bank of New York, August 2015)
  • Check out online resources to find people. (, August 16, 2015)

Legislative Wrap-Ups, 84th Regular Session

Texas organizations and state agencies are beginning to release their summaries of the Texas Legislature's 84th Regular Session. Below is a list of summaries we've seen so far. Summaries can be a good source of information if you are trying to find descriptions of new laws.
League of Women Voters of Texas
Lloyd Gosselink, Attorneys at Law
Texas Freedom Network
Texas Public Policy Foundation
Texas Star Alliance
Center for Public Policy Priorities
Texas Watch
Texas A&M Agrilife Extension
Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance
Texas Humane Legislation Network
Children & Families
TexProtects (Texas Association for the Protection of Children)
Children at Risk
Texans Care for Children
One Voice Texas
Texas Alliance of Child & Family Services
Texas CASA
Office of Court Administration/Texas Judicial Council
Texas Civil Justice League
Criminal Justice
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Texas District & County Attorneys Association (TDCAA)
Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)
Texas Education Agency
Texas Home School Coalition Association
Raise Your Hand Texas
Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA)
Texas Association of School Administrators
Texas AFT (American Federation of Teachers)
Career & Technology Association of Texas
Elderly and Individuals with Disabilities
Department of Aging and Disabilities Services
The Coalition of Texans with Disabilties
Texas Renewable Energy Industry Alliance (TREIA)
SHALE Oil & Gas Business Magazine
The Sierra Club
Air Alliance Houston
Texas Water Conservation Association
Health & Human Services
Texas EMS Trauma & Acute Care Foundation (TETAF)
Texas Medical Association (TMA)
Texas Nurses Association
Higher Education
Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC)
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Homeowners & Property Owners Associations
The National Homeowners Advocate Group, LLC
Texas HOA 2015 Legislative Wrap-up for the 84th Legislative Session
Local Government
Texas Association of Counties
Texas Municipal League
Mental Health
Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
Texas Alliance of Recreational Organizations, Inc. (TARO)
Texas Economic Development Council
Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA)
Occupational Regulation
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR)
Parks & Wildlife
Texas Deer Association
Public Employees
Texas Public Employees Association
Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS)
Public Safety
Texas Department of Public Safety
Rural Areas
Association of Rural Communities in Texas (ARCIT)
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Popp/Hutcheson PLLC
Department of Information Resources (DIR)
Texas Department of Transportation
Texans Uniting for Reform & Freedom (TURF)
Locke Lord LLP
Texas Veterans Commission
Cover image by Pixabay user skeeze.

Week in Review, August 13th

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • Examine climate risks Texas and the southeastern U.S. may face. (Risky Business Project, July 2015)
  • Read about Google tracking air quality via its Street View cars. (Gizmag, July 30, 2015)
  • Consider the fate of statuary on the University of Texas at Austin campus. (UT News, August 10, 2015)
  • Review statistics related to guns and see how the U.S. compares to other countries. (Economist, August 10, 2015)

New & Noteworthy List for August 2015

The Library is continually adding new books to its collection. Below are the six titles from our August 2015 New & Noteworthy list.

1. Border Odyssey: Travels along the U.S./Mexico Divide By Charles D. Thompson Jr.
Chronicles Duke University professor Charles Thompson Jr.'s journey along the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border and his encounters with residents on both sides of the border. Attempts to humanize the border region by sharing the stories of residents' everyday lives including how the U.S. border policy has impacted them. Strives to present a candid picture of the people of "la frontera" and to change the conversation on immigration.
University of Texas Press, 2015. 318 pages. 972.1 T372B 2015

2. The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 By Joseph J. Ellis
Argues that the passage of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 did not make the United States a nation. Explains that nationhood resulted from the creation, adoption, and implementation of the United States Constitution. Maintains the transformation of a confederation of thirteen states to a nation with centralized power was due to leadership from Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, John Jay, and James Madison with support from Governor Robert Morris and Thomas Jefferson.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. 290 pages. 342.7302 EL59Q 2015

3. The Eternal Criminal Record By James B. Jacobs
Examines historical reasoning behind the growth of the American criminal records system, including public access to everything from arrestee information to felony conviction histories. Discusses the direct and unintended consequences for the 60 million Americans with criminal records, which can be easily obtained by employers, landlords, and the public at large. Considers how changes in American criminal record policy could have profound positive impacts for individuals who have demonstrated their rehabilitation.
Harvard University Press, 2015. 396 pages. 345.73 J153E 2015

4. The Borderlands of Race: Mexican Segregation in a South Texas Town By Jennifer R. Najera
Presents a historical ethnography about the culture of Mexican segregation in La Feria, Texas from 1915 through the late 1980s. Examines how social movements and subsequent changes to federal and state policies shaped people’s experiences of Mexican segregation throughout three different time periods: the establishment of segregation in the early part of the twentieth century, its accommodated form in the 1940s, and its gradual unraveling after the civil rights and Chicano movements. Points out contradictions in the structure of Mexican segregation that made the processes of desegregation more difficult, enduring well beyond the passage of major civil rights legislation. Demonstrates the ways people of Mexican-origin in the South Texas border community challenged national racial attitudes and set the stage for broader racial integration and community transformation, creating a meaningful space for themselves in areas historically dominated by Anglos.
University of Texas Press, 2015. 183 pages. 305.868 N145B 2015

5. A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America By Ted Cruz
Recounts the author's life, from his family's immigrant beginnings, to his ascent as a U.S. Senator. Discusses his grassroots campaign that, with the emergence of the Tea Party movement, helped propel him to the forefront of the Republican party. Delves into his time as Texas Solicitor General, as well as his dealings with the Obama administration and "Obamacare." Offers a behind-the-scenes look at his life thus far, as well as his vision for the future.
Broadside Books, 2015. 368 pages. 328.73 C889T 2015

6. Confederate Symbols in the Contemporary South By J. Michael Martinez et al., editors
Discusses the controversial issue of confederate symbols in modern America, specifically in the South. Distinguishes between "symbols as history" and "symbols as racism." Provides balanced and thought-provoking viewpoints as it is a collection of essays by historians, political scientists, philosophers and lawyers.
University Press of Florida, 2000. 351 pages. 973.713 M336C 2000

Constitutional Amendment Election, November 2015

On November 3, 2015, voters will have a chance to consider seven constitutional amendments proposed by the 84th Legislature. The proposed amendments cover a wide range of topics, including property taxes, transportation, state official residency requirements, and more.
For background and analysis of the ballot propositions, see the House Research Organization's Constitutional Amendments Proposed for Nov. 2015 Ballot, and the Texas Legislative Council's Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments.
The Texas Constitution is one of the longest in the nation and it's still growing. The Constitution is changed through amendments, which are proposed by the Texas Legislature and accepted or rejected by the voters.
Since the current Texas Constitution was adopted in 1876, over 480 amendments have been accepted.  
Constitutional Amendments Proposed for the November 3, 2015 ballot
84th R.S.
Prop. 1
The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $15,000 to $25,000, providing for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for those purposes on the homestead of an elderly or disabled person to reflect the increased exemption amount, authorizing the legislature to prohibit a political subdivision that has adopted an optional residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation from reducing the amount of or repealing the exemption, and prohibiting the enactment of a law that imposes a transfer tax on a transaction that conveys fee simple title to real property.
84th R.S.
Prop. 2
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran who died before the law authorizing a residence homestead exemption for such a veteran took effect.
84th R.S.
Prop. 3
The constitutional amendment repealing the requirement that state officers elected by voters statewide reside in the state capital.
84th R.S.
Prop. 4
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles.
84th R.S.
Prop. 5
The constitutional amendment to authorize counties with a population of 7,500 or less to perform private road construction and maintenance.
84th R.S.
Prop. 6
The constitutional amendment recognizing the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation
84th R.S.
Prop. 7
The constitutional amendment dedicating certain sales and use tax revenue and motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund to provide funding for nontolled roads and the reduction of certain transportation-related debt.


Week in Review, August 6th

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • Read about Texans who lack health insurance coverage. (Rice University's Baker Institute / Episcopal Health Foundation, July 2015)
  • Examine the relationship between health insurance coverage and income security. (The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2015)
  • Compare the effects of sugar and artificial sweeteners on health. (National Geographic, August 3, 2015)
  • Consider recent changes to states' minimum wage laws. (Economic Policy Institute, July 24, 2015)
  • Trace the decline in newspaper industry jobs since 1990. (Poynter, July 30, 2015)
  • Track injuries state by state. (Trust for America's Health, June 2015)

Interim Hearings – Week of August 10th

Interim Hearings – Week of August 10th
Today's Committee Meetings on the LRL website is a calendar of interim committee hearings with links to agendas. Below are resources related to upcoming Interim Hearings.
August 11th
House Committee on Transportation
Topic: Update from the Department of Motor Vehicles on legislation passed in 84th or related issues
Topic: Utility relocation issues on state right-of-way construction and maintenance projects
Topic: Update on HB 1 from the 3rd called Special Session of the 83rd Legislative Session
Topic: Update on any proposed policy changes or revisions to the Unified Transportation Program (UTP)
Topic: Update on toll collection issues, contracts, and third party monitoring
Topic: Update on development of the ten year plans for Metropolitan Planning Organizations

Week in Review, July 30th

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.

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