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Resource Highlight: Press Book of the Texas Senate

Who were the members of the Texas Capitol press corps in 2015? Who were the members in 1995? To find this information, look no further than the Press Book of the Texas Senate. Published each session since 1969, the Press Books identify members of the Texas Capitol press corps, and detail Senate policies and procedures related to the press. The 2015 volume as well as those from previous sessions are available for viewing at the Legislative Reference Library. 
 

Texas Water Resources Research Guide

Cover image for the Water Resources Research guide Looking for a starting point to research Texas water issues?  Check out the Legislative Reference Library's new Water Resources Research Guide
 
This comprehensive bibliography of resources related to water includes lists of water-related agencies, organizations, databases, and research aids as well as citations to articles and reports published between 2008 and 2014.
 
The Guide focuses on water resources development, management, and use; water rights and allocation; and water planning and research.

Alcoholic Beverage Regulation: Recent News and Reports

Since the end of Prohibition, Texas has allowed the sale of alcoholic beverages under a three-tiered system intended to prevent close ties between manufacturers and retailers.  Businesses in each tier are licensed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.   
 
In recent years, the growing number of craft breweries and distilleries has prompted calls for changes to the regulatory system to provide more opportunities for small producers to reach consumers.  At the same time, court rulings have challenged some aspects of Texas' regulation of alcoholic beverages. 
 
The current state of alcoholic beverage regulation in Texas and other states is explored in a number of recent reports:
 
 
 
None of these bills passed, but there is no shortage of speculation that changes to Texas' alcoholic beverage laws will again be considered during the 2013 legislative session.  Here are a few news stories which discuss issues related to alcoholic beverage regulation:
 
You can find bills related to alcoholic beverage regulation filed for the 83rd Regular Session under the subject "Alcoholic Beverage Regulation" at Texas Legislature Online.

The Texas Legislature in Fiction

While Texas and its people are a popular subject for fiction, rarely does the Texas Legislature take a starring role. The novels below, arranged alphabetically by author, represent a wide variety of genres and time periods, but are connected by their focus on Texas lawmakers, either as characters or as a major part of the setting. Some of these titles are available in the Legislative Reference Library's collection; the rest can be found in libraries throughout the state.
 
 
 
In 1960s Texas, an idealistic member of the Young Democrats is swept off her feet by a prominent state senator, who may be able to further her political ambitions. As she learns more about the world of politics, though, she begins to wonder  if the power is worth it, or if she's better off realizing her dreams her own way. This steamy spoof of '60s culture and Texas Democratic party politics was written by a Texan who worked in the Carter White House.
 
 
 
Billy Lee Brammer, The Gay Place (1961); available in the Legislative Reference Library
 
This classic tale of Texas politics is considered one of the great American political novels. Set in 1950s Austin, three intertwined novellas follow a young member of the Texas House, the junior U.S. Senator from Texas, and the Texas Governor's press secretary. Towering over all three narratives is Governor Arthur Fenstemaker, a charismatic master politician. Billy Brammer based Gov. Fenstemaker on Lyndon Johnson, for whom he worked during Johnson's time as a U.S. Senator. Sadly, this book, written when Brammer was just 31, was his only novel.
 
 
 
Al Dewlen, The Session (1981); available in the Legislative Reference Library
 
Dave Youngman, a young war veteran from the Texas Panhandle, is starting his first term as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Taken under the wing of a powerful veteran representative, he soon becomes part of the inner circle - but can he make it to the end of the session with his integrity and his life intact? This comedy-drama by Amarillo journalist and novelist Al Dewlen immerses itself in the day-to-day work of the Texas Legislature and the personalities that inhabit it.
 
 
 
Alan R. Erwin, The Power Exchange (1979); available in the Legislative Reference Library
 
A 1980s political thriller exploring what could happen if, in the wake of a federal energy crisis, Texas exercised its right to split into five states and ultimately opted to temporarily secede from the union. Lieutenant Governor Margaret Coursey, later President of the Second Republic of Texas, attempts to guide her newborn nation to a peaceful reunification with the United States, but assassinations, international politics, and betrayal from within may bring the new Republic down before she can succeed.
 
 
 
Shelia Dansby Harvey, Illegal Affairs (2005) and Bad Girls Finish First (2006)
 
Texas' urban African-American community takes center stage in this pair of novels following the exploits of Raven Holloway, a Dallas law student who enters into an affair with a married Texas state senator and ends up becoming his next wife. In the second novel, Raven turns her talents towards helping her new husband win election as Governor of Texas, but dark secrets from her law school days may come back to haunt her.
 
 
 
 
Set in Austin in 1888, this romance follows the relationship of a Texas state senator's daughter and the Boston native the senator hires to manage his reelection campaign. Their story plays out against the backdrop of Texas state politics in the post-Civil War era, and the lingering hostility between Texans and Yankees is a major focus.
 
 
 
Bob Smiley, Don't Mess With Travis (2012); available in the Legislative Reference Library
 
This political satire follows Ben Travis, a reluctant Texas state senator who ends up becoming governor after a series of freak coincidences. Faced with a national political climate very reminiscent of today's, Governor Travis calls a special session to attempt to persuade the Legislature to reject new federal energy mandates - and instead convinces them to declare independence. Now Travis must deal with the political consequences of this accidental secession while also handling a chaotic personal life, potential federal military action against Texas, and the sudden attention of an unfriendly national media. A comic novel in the tradition of Christopher Buckley, but steeped in the history and culture of Texas.

82nd Session Legislative Summaries Now Available

After each legislative session, the House Research Organization (HRO), the Senate Research Center (SRC), and the Texas Legislative Council (TLC) publish overviews of the session's accomplishments. These reports provide summaries of enrolled bills and analysis of major legislation. All three are now available for the 82nd Legislature, Regular Session and First Called Session: 

Each overview is organized by topic and gives a unique look at the session. The SRC overview provides brief summaries of all enrolled bills. The TLC overview offers summaries of all enrolled legislation and also includes effective dates and veto statements. The HRO overview focuses on legislation on major topics, including bills that did not pass, and contains extensive analysis and statements by supporters and opponents.  

If you're looking for information on previous sessions, overviews for the 53rd-81st Legislatures can be found at the Legislative Reference Library's Session Summaries page.

The First Thanksgiving, Texas-Style

Was Texas the real site of the first Thanksgiving? According to many historians, the first Thanksgiving celebration in the United States took place in 1598 near El Paso. An expedition led by Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate journeyed from Mexico and, after months of arduous travel, arrived at the Rio Grande near what is now San Elizario. The exploration party and the indigenous people celebrated their accomplishment with a feast and Catholic ceremonies - 23 years before the Pilgrims held their famous dinner at Plymouth Rock.

The Texas
House and Senate each commemorated this historical milestone in 1990, and Gov. Rick Perry has recognized April 30 as the official day of the First Thanksgiving. For 20 years, the El Paso Mission Trail Association has conducted an annual historical reenactment of the event, and their work was honored by the Texas House in 2006.

Capitol Building Commission Reports, 1883-1889

Sometimes our research requires us to dig into the past by using older documents. Recently, we used a fascinating set of reports by the Capitol Building Commission, published between 1883-1889. These items detail the work of the commission to construct the current Capitol building, and include the correspondence, maps, architectural drawings, contracts, legislation, and other materials related to the project. Details about how funds were raised to construct the new building, the process of selecting an architect to design it, and the type and quantity of building materials used in the construction are all documented, making these reports a rich source of history with interest to a variety of people. We also discovered some interesting facts while looking through them. Did you know, for example, that the original 3rd floor included a "Ladies Retiring Room"? Or that in response to the advertisement for architectural plans, eleven designs were received, with names such as "Texan," "Pay as You Go," and "Woglosnop"? (Eventually, the design named "Tuebor," by E.E. Myers, was selected.) Perhaps most interesting was a section in the 1886 report in which the commissioners discuss their desire to equip the building with "a first class system of incandescent electric lighting":

 
...there are yet several modern conveniences and appliances, recently perfected, that are now being extensively used in all monumental public structures, which should be placed in our capitol before its construction advances much further; but which we are unable to procure without some appropriation from the Legislature. Among the number, and something most urgently needed, is the introduction throughout the building of a first class system of incandescent electric lighting. Under the present specifications gas alone is to be used, with a few of the chandeliers and other gas jets to be lit by means of electric wires, and when in operation the annual gas bill of the new capitol will be something enormous, leaving the State at the mercy of the gas company or companies, with the only alternative of building its own gas works. The amount of the gas bill for a few years would be sufficient for the State to purchase, own and operate what is known as an isolated plant of some first-class system of incandescent electric lighting, including all the apparatus complete, with the requisite number of lights for the whole building, giving, in our opinion, a far more beautiful and safer light than gas, and the entire plant would be a permanent improvement, the annual cost of maintaining which would be but slightly, as the same engineer in charge of it, with but little assistance, could also manage the boilers connected with the steam heating of the building.

The below images offer just a glimpse of what the reports contain.