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Week in Review, July 23rd

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

Interim Hearings - Week of July 27th

Interim Hearings – Week of July 27th
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.
 
July 29th
Senate Committee on Health & Human Services
Charge: Examine the business practices and regulatory structure of Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas, and investigate whether state or federal laws are being broken by Planned Parenthood and/or its affiliates in Texas in regards to the donation and/or sale of fetal tissue. Consider recommendations to strengthen regulations on abortion providers, including further restrictions on the sale of fetal tissue by these entities.
July 30th
House Committee on County Affairs
Topic: Jail standards, procedures with regards to potentially mentally ill persons in county jails, as well as issues stemming from interactions between the general public and peace officers.
 
 

New Report: Sunset Commission Final Results, 2014-15

The Sunset Commission’s last report of the 2014–2015 cycle, Final Results of Sunset Reviews, is now available on the Sunset Advisory Commission's website
 
"This comprehensive report briefly summarizes the final results of each Sunset review, including both legislative actions and nonstatutory management directives. Despite the failure of four bills, the 84th Legislature adopted 72 percent of the Commission’s 185 recommendations through Sunset legislation or other related legislation. The legislation is estimated to have a positive fiscal impact of some $38 million."
- Ken Levine, Director of the Sunset Advisory Commission
 
A diagram of how the Sunset process works is available via the Sunset Advisory Commission's website.  
 
 
 
 
 
Cover image by Pixabay user gsbarber.
 

Week in Review, July 16th

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • Consider issues related to the proper care of unaccompanied alien children in federal custody. (U.S. Government Accountability Office, July 2015)
  • Review the effects of drought in the West and ways to manage water supplies in times of drought. (Western Governors' Association, June 2015)
  • Explore resources related to aging. (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, accessed July 15, 2015)
  • Read about the NSA collecting telecommunications content of non-target Americans. (The Washington Post, July 5, 2015)
  • Looks at graphs representing the living arrangements of adults. (U.S. Census Bureau, accessed July 15, 2015)
  • Check out newly-developed athletic shoe technology for people with disabilities. (Huffington Post, July 14, 2015)
 
 

Signed Copies of Bills from the 84th R.S.

Signed copies of bills from the 84th and 83rd Legislatures, with session law chapter numbers, are made available online on the Secretary of State's Bills and Resolutions page.
 
You can determine whether a bill sent to the Governor was signed or filed without signature by checking the bill in the Texas Legislature Online. If the bill passed but was filed without signature, you will see the action "Filed without the Governor's signature."
 
Signed copies from the 78th - 83rd Legislatures are available online at the University of North Texas Laws and Resolutions Archive.
 
For questions about bill/chapter numbers for bills from the 84th R.S., please contact the Secretary of State's office at (512) 463-5561.
 

Texas School Finance Lawsuit

The Texas Supreme Court has set a September 1, 2015 hearing date for the Texas school finance case. Below are resources related to the case, as well as other helpful information regarding school finance in Texas.
 
The case:
 
 
By: Travis County District Court, 200th Judicial District
 
Related resources:
 
School finance manuals Texas Education Agency
Includes School Finance 101, an overview of public school funding in Texas.
 
An introduction to school finance in Texas (Revised June 2014) Texas Taxpayers and Research Association
 
School finance National Conference of State Legislatures
Information on state role in funding education, education finance litigation, and trends in education funding.
 
Tribpedia: school finance The Texas Tribune
 
"Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code makes provisions for certain school districts to share their local tax revenue with other school districts." 
 
Cover image by flickr user Province of British Columbia.

Week in Review, July 9th

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • Read about the effects of marijuana legalization in Washington. (Drug Policy Alliance, July 2015)
  • See how much states are getting in federal funds for Medicaid. (National Association of State Budget Officers, June 25, 2015)
  • Consider the heroin epidemic in the United States. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 7, 2015)
  • Search the police shootings database. (The Washington Post, accessed July 8, 2015)
 
 

Bill Effective Dates, 84th Legislature

On September 1, 2015 provisions of 704 bills passed during the regular session of the 84th Legislature will take effect.
 
Additionally, sections of bills passed during the 83rd Legislature and 82nd 1st C.S. in 2011 will take effect on September 1.
 
To keep up with new laws throughout the year, check the Library's list of bill effective dates.
 

Week in Review, July 2nd

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • Find historic places in Texas with this atlas. (Texas Historical Commission, accessed July 1, 2015)
  • Track West Nile virus activity in Texas. (Texas Department of State Health Services, June 10, 2015)
  • Consider disconnected youth — teens and young adults who are neither working nor in school. (Measure of America, June 2015)
  • Look at expenditures in 2011 for statewide tobacco control programs. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 26, 2015)  
 
 

New & Noteworthy List for July 2015

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

Book Cover Image 1. The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic By Akhil Reed Amar
Tells a national story of the United States Constitution through the window of individual states and regions on issues such as civil rights and the Second Amendment. Argues that states are "legal and political building blocks" for federal institutions and ideas. Offers a "Lone Star view" of presidential selection and succession in a chapter on Texas, including the "JFK-LBJ Amendment" after the Kennedy assassination, the presidencies of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and the 2016 presidential campaign.
Basic Books, 2015. 357 pages. 342.73 AM13 2015


Book Cover Image 2. Towards More Transparent Justice: The Michael Morton Act's First Year By Texas Appleseed and Texas Defender Service
Evaluates the implementation of the Michael Morton Act with a goal of discovering any obstacles to a defendant seeking access to discovery material. Seeks to identify best practices that may help ease the transition process for district and county attorney offices. Discovers a number of issues with implementation of the Act but notes resolution should come as offices streamline their processes for reviewing and prosecuting cases and defendants litigate their access to specific materials.
Texas Appleseed, 2015. 47 pages. Online at: http://texasdefender.org/wp-content/uploads/Towards_More_Transparent_Justice.pdf 345.73 T65M 2015


Book Cover Image 3. Latino America: How America’s Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation By Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura
Evaluates how a growing Latino population, which will inevitably become the majority racial/ethnic group in many states, including Texas, will affect social issues, both culturally and politically. Analyzes the growing role that Latinos play in the changing American political landscape. Explores diverse attitudes among Latinos on social, governmental, and economic issues, and argues against a tendency to regard Latinos as a homogeneous group, especially when it comes to politics.
PublicAffairs, 2014. 286 pages. 323.1 B275 2014


Book Cover Image 4. The State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities By David L. Braddock, et al.
Provides a state-by-state breakdown of funding and services provided to individuals with cognitive disabilities. Highlights data regarding the number of people residing in public and private institutions (focusing on the trend of some states closing state-run institutions), funding levels for community services and supports, and factors driving demand for services among different populations. Includes state profiles detailing information on persons by living setting, sources of funding (funding/state/local), and fiscal effort (institutional services v. community/family services). Offers an argument for increased funding to enhance access to technology for individuals with cognitive disabilities in the appendix, “The Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access".
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 2015. 217 pages. 362.4 B729S 2015


Book Cover Image 5. Joe the Slave Who Became an Alamo Legend By Ron Jackson Jr. and Lee Spencer White
Provides a fascinating new perspective on a survivor of the battle of the Alamo who has remained in relative obscurity. Chronicles the life of Joe, Colonel William Travis’ slave, who was released by Santa Anna, told his story to the Texas Cabinet, and disappeared. Discusses new evidence that Joe was the brother of a famous abolitionist, William Wells Brown, and the grandson of Daniel Boone.
University of Oklahoma Press, 2015. 325 pages. 976.4 J137 2015


Book Cover Image 6. The City in Texas: A History By David G. McComb
Presents Texas history from an urban point of view, placing the development of Texas cities within their historical context, and identifying how they developed the necessary ingredients of survival: access, purpose or reason for being, and water. Demonstrates how the Texas shift from rural to urban is essential to understanding the state's history and its contemporary character. Emphasizes that 88 percent of Texans live in cities, compared with 82 percent of the United States as a whole, and that these cities have been incubators of innovation and achievement.
University of Texas Press, 2015. 342 pages. 307.76 M134C

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