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Week in Review, October 27

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

  • Read about telemedicine in Texas. (Texas Associations of Businesses, September 2016)
  • Consider early voting and absentee voting in all 50 states. (National Conference of State Legislatures, October 25, 2016)
  • Examine health insurance Marketplace plan choices and affordability for 2017. (Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, October 24, 2016)
  • Track high school dropout and completion rates for 2013. (National Center for Education Statistics, October 25, 2016)


New & Noteworthy List for October 2016

The Library is continually adding new books to its collection. Below are the six titles from our October 2016 New & Noteworthy list.


Check out and delivery of New & Noteworthy titles is available to legislative staff in Capitol and District offices. To arrange check out of any of these items, you can submit an online request through the New & Noteworthy page on our website, or contact the library at 512-463-1252.

1. A Noose for Chipita By Smylie, Vernon
Provides a historical, political, and legal perspective on the hanging of Chipita Rodriquez, a century-old capital punishment case that haunts South Texas. Describes how local legend says that Chipita's sorrowful cries can be heard on the banks of the Nueces River, mourning her untimely death and her improper burial. Explains another legend that Chipita is seen whenever a woman in Texas is about to be executed. Notes that the 69th Texas Legislature in 1985 provided a symbolic redress of her case (SCR 14).
Texas News Syndicate Press, 1970. 63 pages.
343.2 SM92



2. Edmund J. Davis of Texas: Civil War General, Republican Leader, Reconstruction Governor By Moneyhon, Carl H.
Presents a biography of Edmund J. Davis, the much maligned Reconstruction-era governor of Texas. Examines Davis' opposition to secession and the Confederacy, and his attempts to bring Texas back to the Union. Highlights the controversial election of 1874 and Davis' refusal to leave office, an event which led some to believe his spirit still wanders the Capitol grounds, mulling over the unfortunate end to his career.
TCU Press, 2010. 337 pages.
976.405 D292M 2010



3. Ghost Stories of Texas By Syers, Ed
Presents 50 ghost stories about Texas, told to the author by Texans from all walks of life. Relays stories of legendary hauntings and supernatural happenings, emphasizing the cultural and historical significance of each. Asserts that "the supernatural is an inherent part of Texan heritage."
Texian Press, 1981. 206 pages.
976.43 SY26G 1981



4. Haunted Austin: History and Hauntings in the Capital City By Zeller-Plumer, Jeanine Marie
Delves into the history of the events surrounding several ghost sightings in Austin. Highlights stories of convicts who gave their lives in the construction of the Capitol building, and of Robert Marshall Love, a former state comptroller who was assassinated at his desk, and whose ghost has been seen wandering the east hallway of the Capitol wishing visitors "good day."
History Press, 2010. 110 pages.
976.43 Z38H 2010



5. Mysteries and Legends of Texas: True Stories of The Unsolved and Unexplained By Ingham, Donna
Provides personal accounts from a variety of Texas locales about strange and unexplained phenomena such as the Marfa lights and the legend of the ancient Indian spirits that roam Enchanted Rock. Offers a unique historical perspective to many of Texas' most well-known mysteries, as well as the lesser-known legends and stories.
Globe Pequot Press, 2010. 177 pages.
976.4 IN4M 2010



6. Tales of Old-Time Texas By Dobie, J. Frank
Presents 28 of the Texan storyteller's best tales. Tells the story of Jim Bowie's knife, the stranger of Sabine Pass, the "wild woman of the Navidad," and "the headless horseman of the mustangs," in which Bigfoot Wallace "scared up a legend not yet dead."
University of Texas Press, 1984. 336 pages.
398.2 D653T 1928



7. Towering Texan: a Biography of Thomas J. Rusk By Huston, Cleburne
Describes the brilliant career of Thomas J. Rusk, a man who served Texas as a soldier, jurist, and statesman, and who was once touted as a potential candidate for President of the United States. Recounts the story of Rusk's suicide, and how he was one of five prominent public figures in Texas who committed suicide between 1838 and 1858.
Texian Press, 1971. 191 pages.
328.73 H969T 1971



Capitol Spirits

Leading up to Halloween each year, we gather spookie stories and tales of ghostly hauntings that add to the aura of the Texas Capitol and the Lone Star State. Below you'll read about mysterious lights, a quack medicine doctor, and a man whose corpse was buried standing up. 

From the Legislative Reference Library, we hope you have a fun and safe Halloween!!

Radam's Microbe Killer

Radam's Microbe Killer

In the 19th century, death from tuberculosis, a.k.a. "consumption," was widespread and William Radam of Austin claimed to have a remedy. Perhaps Austin's original "weird" character, Radam, operated a seed store at 907 Congress Avenue, and developed, bottled, and sold "Radam's Microbe Killer." Although deemed a quack, sales of his "miracle cure" made him a wealthy man. The building at 907 Congress Avenue has been vacant for over 20 years; does his spirit linger, handing out samples of his microbe killer?


Legislative Reference Library

Ghosts in the Legislative Reference Library

This photo of the Capitol's Legislative Reference Library space shows the room as it appeared circa 1902-1907, when used for the Supreme Court Library.  A ghost-like figure can been seen sitting at a table, near the door to a hidden staircase.  It is reported that a "lady in red" frequents this staircase and the office above it, perhaps hoping to meet up with her lover who once worked in that office.


The Old Rock Store

The Old Rock Store in Oak Hill

The Old Rock Store in Oak Hill has watched over travelers since 1898 when James Andrew Patton, Texas Ranger, and unofficial "mayor of Oak Hill" built the stone building to house his mercantile business.  His daughter, Rosa Patton White, worked in the store after the untimely death of her Texas Ranger husband, John Dudley White, Sr., in 1918 at the hands of army deserters.  Is Ranger White the mischievous ghost who inhabits the building (now home to Austin Pizza Garden) looking for his wife?


UT Tower

Foreboding in the UT Tower

Completed in the 1937, the University of Texas Tower has long been a landmark on the Austin skyline, but it is also notorious for other reasons -- the construction worker who fell to his death, a number of suicides, and the most infamous event of all, the 1966 tower shootings by Charles Whitman. Some visitors report general feelings of foreboding and claustrophobia, as well as encountering cold spots in the stairwell.  Many believe Whitman, himself, is the spirit who turns lights on and off.


Historical marker for James Briton

Mysterious Lights Near Bailey's Prairie

James Briton "Brit" Bailey was a larger than life character who settled in Stephen F. Austin's colony.  He let it be known that when he died, he wanted to be buried standing up, facing west, with his gun, powder horn, rifle balls, and a jug of whiskey.  Legend says all but one of those requests was carried out.  An unexplained light is seen from time to time near Bailey's Prairie on Highway 35 between Angleton and West Columbia.  Perhaps it's just old Brit and his lantern searching for that whiskey jug.


Lights of Marfa

The Lights of Marfa

Strange lights have been reported between Alpine and Marfa, across Mitchell Flat with the Chinati Mountains as a backdrop since the 1880s.  They appear in various colors as they move about, disappear and reappear.  Some believe the logical explanation is car headlights from U.S. 67, while others point to a natural, scientific explanation.  A legend persists that Alsate, the last Apache chief who lived in the area, is lighting watchfires. The lights are definitely there but for what reason? 


Enchanted Rock

Legends of Enchanted Rock

Various Indian tribes have held Enchanted Rock in both religious awe and supernatural fear.  Their legends speak to attempts to explain the natural phenomena they saw. Noises and lights were attributed to a great devil trapped in the rock or various other spirits who linger, such as the last of a tribe's warriors who fought to their end here.  Indentions on the rock's summit are the footsteps of a doomed chief forced to walk the rock forever as a punishment for the sacrifice of his daughter.


W.B. Dewees

More Enchanted Rock Tales

In an 1834 letter, W.B. Dewees said of Enchanted Rock, "The Indians have held it sacred for centuries, and go there once a year to worship it.  They will not permit any white person to approach it." In the fall of 1841, Captain John Coffee "Jack" Hays, singlehandedly held off a party of Comanches because the band would not pursue Hays when he climbed to the rock's summit.  

Cover image by J.W. Remington Photographics

Week in Review, October 20

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

  • Read about student debt at graduation for the class of 2015. (Institute for College Access & Success, October 2016)
  • Consider how voter ID laws and litigation may affect the election. (Stateline, October 19, 2016)
  • Examine police face recognition policies throughout the country. (Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology, October 18, 2016)
  • Find out which states retirees may want to avoid because of an unfavorable tax climate. (Kiplinger, October 2016)

The Economic Stabilization Fund, a.k.a. The Rainy Day Fund

The following information about the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly called the "Rainy Day Fund," may be of interest. The fund was created in 1988 by the 70th Legislature to set aside state revenue for when revenue shortfalls occur.

For general information about the Rainy Day Fund, including enacting legislation, voting requirements, and constitutional provisions, please see our February 2011 post FAQs about the Economic Stabilization ("Rainy Day") Fund.

For a recent update on the fund, please see the Texas Comptroller's June 2016 report as well as the September 2016 article in Fiscal Notes. 

What is the current and historical balance of the ESF? 

The Economic Stabilization Fund is listed in the Texas Comptroller's Texas Annual Cash Report as fund number 0599 Economic Stabilization Fund. In fiscal year 2015, 0599 Economic Stabilization Fund had an ending balance of $8,468,905,380. The below table lists a number of data points about the fund back to 1990, including:

  • Ending balance each fiscal year
  • Bills that have spent (appropriated) money from the fund
  • Oil and natural gas production tax revenue transferred to the fund
  • Constitutional cap

Cover image by Adrianna Calvo

Interim Hearings - Week of October 24

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.


October 26

Senate Committee on Finance

Topic: Child Protective Services' (CPS) plan to ensure timely contact with children at immediate risk of abuse or neglect, impact of CPS initiatives funded in the 2016-17 General Appropriations Act, and status of CPS Transformation

Topic: LBB update on fiscal years 2016-17 supplemental costs for the General Appropriations Act

Week in Review, October 13

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

  • Examine the landscape of legal education today. (Access Group Center for Research & Policy Analysis, posted to Social Science Research Network on October 11, 2016)
  • Read about how candidate vacancies are filled around election season. (Congressional Research Service, October 6, 2016)
  • Explore the linguistic differences across the U.S. (Business Insider, September 30, 2016)
  • See what options Texas voters have to show identification or supporting documentation at the polls. (Texas Secretary of State, September 21, 2016)

Interim Hearings - Week of October 17

Interim Hearings - Week of October 17
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.
October 17
House Committee on Public Education
Topic: School choice programs
October 18
Joint Interim Committee to Study Border Security
Topic: Implementation of HB 11, 84th Legislature, R.S., and additional border security efforts

Week in Review, October 6

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

  • Explore data visualizations on population and demographics. (U.S. Census Bureau, accessed October 5, 2016)
  • Read about word count limits on legal briefs. (The New York Times, October 3, 2016)
  • Examine the political aspects of climate issues. (Pew Research Center, October 4, 2016)
  • See which Texas university makes the list of the top 25 public colleges of 2016. (Forbes, 2016)

Interim Hearings - Week of October 10

Interim Hearings - Week of October 10

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.


Week of October 10 

October 12

House Committee on General Investigating & Ethics 

Charge 4: State agencies' use of emergency leave and settlement payments


House Committee on Insurance 

Charge 4: Texas credit for reinsurance statutes and effect on market capacity, cost of regulatory compliance, and prospect of federal preemption, and alternative credit for reinsurance statutes in other jurisdictions


Charge 5: Implementation of SB 900, 84th Legislature, R.S., including rulemaking by Texas Department of Insurance and adoption of updated plan of operation by Texas Windstorm Insurance Association


Joint Legislative Committee on Aging

Topic: Geriatric training and continuing education among physical and mental health professionals 


Topic: Collaborative and innovative aging services across the state 

October 13

House Committee on Natural Resources

Charge 3: Freshwater loss 


Charge 1: Regional and state water planning processes, with emphasis on integration of HB 4, 83rd Legislature, R.S., regional planning groups, groundwater management, drought of record, and related issues 


Charge 9: Legislative oversight and monitoring, including review of the surface water permitting process in Texas 

Joint Legislative Committee on Aging 

Topic: Influenza and bacterial pneumonia disease in long term care facilities


Topic: Elderly financial abuse

House Committees on Agriculture & Livestock and Natural Resources (Joint Hearing)

Charge: Sources of water used by Texans in the production of food and fiber; water delivery methods, water conservation goals, and water-usage management practices in agriculture

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