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Week in Review, March 23

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

  • Review how states address compensation for wrongful conviction. (Governing, March 15, 2017)
  • Read the Trump administration's proposed budget. (Office of Management and Budget, 2017)
  • Explore resources related to Medicaid policy issues. (National Conference of State Legislatures, March 1, 2017)
  • Consider the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in politics and business in the U.S. (Pew Research Center, March 20, 2017)


New & Noteworthy List for March 2017

New & Noteworthy List for February 2017 Request Form (PDF)

In honor of Women's History Month, we are highlighting books by or about Texas women from our collection. To arrange check out and delivery of any of these items, please contact the library at 463-1252. 

1. Black Texas Women: 150 Years of Trial and Triumph By Ruthe Winegarten
Examines the lives of black Texas women, going as far back as the Spanish colonial period, when women of color were not only free, but owned land and worked in Texas under the anti-slavery Mexican laws. Describes the pro-slavery Republic of Texas era in which white society took everything from black citizens – not only their freedom and land, but their civil rights, dignity, and self-respect. Paints a vivid picture of the lives of these inspiring women through their stories and photographs.
University of Texas Press, 1995. 427.
325.26 W725



2. Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History By Teresa Palomo Acosta and Ruthe Winegarten
Celebrates the contributions made by women of Spanish/Mexican origin to Texas from the 1700s to 2000. Provides a historical account of Tejanas in all aspects of life, focusing on their struggles and triumphs in politics, education, the arts, and business. Profiles notable Tejanas including former and current members of the Texas Legislature. Supplements this history of achievements with a selection of photographs and artwork.
University of Texas Press, 2003. 436 pages.
301.45 AC72T 2003



3. The Latina Advantage: Gender, Race, and Political Success By Christina E. Bejarano
Examines empirical evidence and statistics in Texas and California to argue that Latina women could hold a strategic advantage in the "intersectionality of gender and ethnicity." Argues that racial/ethnic minority women make up a greater percentage of other minority representatives than "white" women do among "white" elected officials. Investigates the history of the Texas Legislature and how Latina candidates are appealing to a wider, more diverse population based on qualities and political/community experience.
University of Texas Press, 2013. 183 pages.
305.868 B397L 2013



4. "Let Me Tell You What I've Learned": Texas Wisewomen Speak By PJ Pierce
Presents a collection of interviews of twenty-five women who have led extraordinary lives and shaped Texas in significant ways. Shares the wisdom and life lessons of women who have broken barriers and challenged stereotypes. Features risk-takers from a variety of backgrounds, including former and current lawmakers, who offer insights into topics such as career challenges, being a minority, families, faith, adversity, perseverance, and success.
University of Texas Press, 2002. 302 pages.
920.7209764 P611L 2002



5. A Love Letter to Texas Women By Sarah Bird
Describes key traits of many Texas women, including friendliness, sense of humor, and fearlessness, in this short, humorous tribute. Highlights Lady Bird Johnson, Laura Bush, Molly Ivins, Ann Richards, and Barbara Jordan as examples of inspirational women.
University of Texas Press, 2016. 72 pages.
813.54 B532L 2016



6. Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas By A. Elizabeth Taylor
Highlights the role of Texas women in the suffrage movement, particularly Minnie Fisher Cunningham in her leadership role as president of the Texas Equal Suffrage Association, and Jane Y. McCallum, a public relations dynamo at keeping this topic in the public spotlight. Includes the groundbreaking 1951 article by Dr. A. Elizabeth Taylor, “The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas.” Presents a variety of documents, including Texas legislative materials, beginning with the 1868-1869 Reconstruction Convention consideration of woman’s suffrage to the 1919 ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Ellen C. Temple, 1987. 242 pages.
324 T213



7. Texas Dames: Sassy and Savvy Women Throughout Lone Star History By Carmen Goldthwaite
Highlights the stories of fifty-three Texas women and their accomplishments from early Tejas to the mid-twentieth century. Details how these courageous "Dames" broke both gender and racial barriers in education, ministry, business, entertainment, athletics, medicine, and politics. Profiles women who achieved "firsts" as doctors, scientists, bankers, attorneys, religious leaders, and state lawmakers.
The History Press, 2012. 157 pages.
976.4 G58T 2012



8. Women in Civil War Texas: Diversity and Dissidence in the Trans-Mississippi By Deborah M. Liles and Angela Boswell, editors.
Documents the experiences of Texas women during the Civil War through essays that establish the historical context and complexity of the war and its effects. Delves into issues related to secession, slavery, and ethnicity as African Americans, Germans, and Tejanos diversified the state's population. [Winner of the Liz Carpenter Award for Research in the History of Women, Texas State Historical Association, 2016]
University of North Texas Press, 2016. 297 pages.
305.409764 L627W 2016



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Week in Review, March 16

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

  • Review the 2017 Texas HHS Fact Book. (Texas Health & Human Services Commission, 2017)
  • Consider the legal landscape of school district policies related to undocumented students. (Education Week, February 27, 2017)
  • Pinpoint the locations of dams that require repairs or improvements. (Stratfor, March 14, 2017)
  • Examine factors that impact border crossing times. (Texas A&M Transportation Institute, February 2017)

Bill Filing Deadline Statistics, 85th Legislature

Friday marked the bill filing deadline for the 85th Regular Session. When the deadline had passed, a total of 6,654 bills and joint resolutions had been filed. How does this compare to previous sessions?


Week in Review, March 9

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

  • Review health care spending in Texas. (Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, January 31, 2017)
  • Read the recent executive order on immigration. (The White House, March 6, 2017)
  • Consider the historical context of the Scalia vacancy. (Congressional Research Service, March 1, 2017)
  • Try to balance the federal budget. (Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy at Brookings / Wilson Center, accessed March 2017)

TxLege Terms: Enabling Legislation

In this occasional post, we explain terms used in the Texas legislative environment that may be unfamiliar to those outside the Capitol.


Legislators propose amendments to the Texas Constitution by filing joint resolutions (JRs). These JRs must be passed in both the house and senate by a two-thirds vote, and then approved by the voters of the state.


A legislator also may file a complementary bill to the JR describing how the JR would be implemented if approved. This complementary bill is called the enabling legislation. It may be passed during the same session as the JR or in a subsequent session. If voters reject a constitutional amendment (JR), the enabling legislation has no effect.


For example, the 84th Legislature passed seven constitutional amendments that were on the November 2015 ballot. In the House Research Organization's Amendments Proposed publication, their explanation of each ballot proposition includes whether the proposition has an enabling bill (in this case, propositions 1, 2, and 4) and what the enabling bill does. All seven constitutional amendments passed in 2015, so the joint resolutions' respective bills also went into effect as scheduled.


Investigate our Constitutional Amendments database to learn more about the process of amending Texas' constitution. Here you can search for amendments, find reports analyzing proposed amendments, see past amendment election dates and outcomes, and find additional sources.




60-Day Bill Filing Deadline FAQ

60-Day Filing Deadline F.A.Q.:

When is the deadline for filing bills?

The deadline for filing bills and joint resolutions, other than local bills, emergency appropriations, and bills that have been declared an emergency by the governor, is the 60th calendar day after the legislature convenes for its regular session.


When is the 60-day filing deadline for the 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature?

Friday, March 10th, 2017.


Where can I find the other deadlines for the 85th regular session?

Other significant dates can be found on the Legislative Council's Dates of Interest page. The Texas Legislative Council also created a calendar showing deadlines for action under the House and Senate Rules for the last month of the regular session. End-of-session deadline calendars and dates of interest for previous sessions are available on our website: Session Deadline Calendars.


What happens next?

As indicated in Sec. 5(b), Art. III of the Texas Constitution, for the next 30 days of the regular legislative session, the committees of each chamber hold hearings to consider all bills, resolutions, and other undecided matters.


Did you know?:

  • After the 60-day filing deadline during a regular session, any proposed bill or joint resolution requires permission to introduce by an affirmative vote of four-fifths of those members present and voting (see Senate Rule 7.07(b) and House Rule 8, Sec.8) Local bills, emergency appropriations, and emergency matters submitted by the governor are not subject to these rules.

Playing to Win with Rep. Bob Davis

This is the third installment in our occasional series, "Texas Treasures," highlighting some of the men and women who have served in the Texas Legislature. In previous posts, we featured Rep. Frank Calhoun and Sen. A.R. "Babe" Schwartz.


A lot of strong words have been used to describe former Rep. Bob Davis—intense, shrewd, wily, riveting. And with good reason. Words applied to lawmakers with ordinary resolve and conventional political skills are too meager for a man Texas Monthly once called: "beyond moderation . . . beyond classification . . . a player so avid he raises political gamesmanship to the intensity of a force of nature."1


Robert Eugene "Bob" Davis represented Dallas County in the House of Representatives from 1973-1983. During his tenure he served on the body's most powerful committees including: Calendars; Ways and Means, which he presided over for two sessions; and Regions, Compacts, and Districts, currently known as Redistricting. Davis was also a member of the House Insurance committee for three sessions, serving as chairman during the 65th Legislature.


Following his freshman session, Davis was a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Convention and a member of the Citizens' Conference on State Legislatures, a precursor to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


The power of Davis' political resolve was untested when he entered the race for a House seat in 1972. He was young, inexperienced, and virtually unknown to the voters of his district when he signed on as a last-minute recruit in a landmark election season.


"I was 30 years old at the time of filing. My wife was pregnant with our third child, and it wasn't a good time," Davis explained. "A lawyer I knew called me in June and told me the Republican candidate had to drop out. He said: 'We have called 39 people, and no one wants to run. Are you interested?' I said yes and became a replacement candidate."2


It didn't take long for Davis to prove himself a worthy replacement. His affinity for hard work and his status as a Republican worked to his advantage during the campaign—as did his lack of political experience. "I never really thought I would lose," Davis told the Irving Daily News after his stunning victory.3


The political odds were definitely in Davis' favor that year. Outrage over the Sharpstown Stock Fraud Scandal set the stage for a watershed election in 1972. And a court-ordered redistricting plan that required Dallas County to shift to single-member districts had provided a promising opening for a Republican candidate.4


Once committed, Davis seized the opportunity. In the notorious "year they threw the rascals out," he trounced a well-known incumbent and joined a corps of reform-minded freshmen who were sent to Austin to shake things up.


When the 63rd Legislature convened in 1973, almost half of the House members were first-time lawmakers, and "none were greener than I," Davis remarked.5


After taking office, Davis' knack for the political craft made it clear he was uniquely qualified to shake things up. Green or not, he was definitely a player.


Davis was featured in Texas Monthly's biennial assessment of best and worst lawmakers three times during his legislative career. Reflecting on his well-known status as a political heavyweight, Davis recalled two skills that were emphasized during freshman orientation: knowledge of the rules and personal relationships.


"My ideas were set when I first arrived. The exercise of power is really just an appreciation of knowledge—like the rules and the process—and personalities. There is nothing magical about it . . . I always had an affinity for the Rules of Procedure. My mastery of them helped me become a formidable opponent . . . It was also important to learn what was going on in the basement. I thought what we were doing was important, so I played hard, and I played to win."6


Davis authored over 150 pieces of legislation during his 10-year career, many of which dealt with complex aspects of insurance and tax law. Of particular significance were bills passed in 1977 and 1979 related to taxation of intangible property and valuation of agricultural land.7


At issue, particularly in cities like Irving which Davis represented, was whether large tracts of undeveloped land should be taxed based on productivity rather than fair market value. Davis argued in favor of switching to an "ag-use" valuation that would reduce the tax burden on farmers who were in danger of being forced to sell their land.


Opponents of the legislation were concerned the ultimate beneficiaries would be real estate developers and that cities would make up for lost revenue by raising taxes on homeowners. Acknowledging his bill drew no distinction between corporate and individual landowners, Davis made the case that promoting agricultural production was a worthy goal regardless of ownership.8 Davis and others successfully addressed homeowners' concerns in a constitutional amendment authored by Tim Von Dohlen. Considered together, the legislation provided a balanced solution to an acute problem and included tax relief for homeowners as well as farmers.


Altering tax policy is among the most contentious tasks a lawmaker can take on, and not every member is up to the challenge. In this case, Davis and his colleagues negotiated a tradeoff between urban and rural interests that saved cities from a huge tax increase and allowed agricultural land to remain in production.9


As a result of his efforts, Davis was named one of Texas Monthly's "ten best" and one of Texas Business magazine's "five best" legislators in 1979. It also burnished his credentials as a "peerless strategist" and a "genius" at the legislative process.10


Davis' expertise in addressing complex issues earned him several positions in state government after leaving the legislature in 1983. Three years after returning to his private law practice, Davis became director of budget and planning for Gov. Bill Clements, an experience he said was "fun and difficult."11 He also served on Governor Clements' taxation committee and was a member of the General Services Commission from 1989 to 1995.12


Davis practiced law for several years after completing his service in state government. Eventually, he eased out of litigation and focused on wills, estates, and regulatory matters. Davis is now enjoying what he calls "a comfortable period of doing a whole lotta nuthin'." 13


Looking back on his legislative service, Davis recalls: "The Legislature was a fascinating place for me . . . I didn't want to give up doing the job of a member, but I absolutely became tired of the process of getting elected." 14


Davis says he is not political now. He leaves that work to his son, Doug, and his daughter-in-law, Karina.


When we spoke in October, Davis and his wife were preparing for a trip to the Pacific Northwest. "We will be enjoying ourselves and following the trail of Lewis and Clark"15—a fitting journey of discovery for a "force of nature."


A collection of Representative Davis' legislative memorabilia is on display in the Legislative Reference Library.


1 Burka, Paul. "The Ten Best and the Ten Worst Legislators," Texas Monthly, July 1981, p. 108.

2 Davis, Bob, interview by Nancy Watson and Lindsay Wickham, 10/14/2016.

3 Wilson, Doris E. "Bob Davis: New State Rep Champing at the Bit to Start," Irving Daily News, 11/26/1972, p. 1.

4 Deaton, Charles. The Year They Threw the Rascals Out, Austin, TX: Shoal Creek Publishers, 1973, p. 151, 153.

5 Davis, Bob, 10/14/2016.

6 Ibid.

7 Legislative Reference Library, Legislative Archive System, accessed 1/16/2017.

8 McDaniel, Ann. "The 'Ag-Use' Tax: Does it Spell Relief?" Dallas Times-Herald, 5/6/1979.

9 Davis, Bob, 10/14/2016.

10 Burka, Paul, "The Ten Best and the Ten Worst Legislators," Texas Monthly, July 1979, p. 95.

11 Davis, Bob, 10/14/2016.

12 Legislative Reference Library, Texas Appointment System, accessed 1/17/2017.

13 Davis, Bob, 10/14/2016.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

Week in Review, March 2

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

  • Read the Trump administration's executive order related to the "Waters of the United States" rule. (The White House, February 28, 2017)
  • Consider the racial divide related to public opinion on police use of force. (Cato Institute, March 1, 2017)
  • Review the effectiveness of post-secondary education savings accounts.  (Governing, March 2017)
  • Examine the state budget process in Texas. (House Research Organization, February 16, 2017)

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