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Interim Hearings - Week of May 9

Interim Hearings - Week of May 9
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.
May 10 Top
House Committee on Higher Education
Charge 3: College affordability and accessibility with a focus on middle-class students; tuition, financial aid, student debt
Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform & Relief
Charge: Property tax process
Charge: Tax burden
May 11  Top
House Committee on General Investigating & Ethics
Charge 2: Contracting practices at major state agencies
House Committee on Public Education
Charge: Teacher-student relationships 
Charge: Broadband services  for schools, libraries, and institutions of higher education

Cover image by pixabay user skeeze

Week in Review, April 28

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • View a report and policy brief providing recommendations to reduce future census undercounts of young Latinos. (Child Trends, April 2016)
  • Read about the expectations related to retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. (Insured Retirement Institute, 2016)
  • Consider how the content of social media posts reveals clues about health. (Knowledge@Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, April 25, 2016)
  • Review frequently asked questions about veterans' health care. (Congressional Research Service, April 21, 2016)

Where to Find Committee Minutes

Committee minutes record the proceedings of legislative committees. They are the permanent record of what occurred at a committee hearing, and can be a helpful guide when viewing video or listening to audio of past hearings.
Minutes contain procedural information like roll call, record votes, bills considered, and witness information, and at times they include other research valuable items, such as transcripts of testimony, research reports, and correspondence.
The Legislative Reference Library makes committee minutes from the 63rd Legislature (1973) through the 74th Legislature (1995) available online through its committee minutes page, and also linked to bills in its Legislative Archive System. For committee minutes from the 75th Legislature (1997) - present, check the Texas Legislature Online's Committees webpage.
Table: Committee minute availability
(LRL = Legislative Reference Library; TLO = Texas Legislature Online)
Legislature House Senate Joint
63rd - 71st Online via LRL Online via LRL Online via LRL
72nd - 74th Online via LRL In hard copy at the LRL (scanning in progress) In hard copy at the LRL (scanning in progress)
75th - present Online via TLO Online via TLO Online via TLO

Interim Hearings - Week of May 2

Interim Hearings - Week of May 2
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.
May 2
Charge 17: State parks system funding, recent legislation including the General Appropriations Act, HB 158, and SB 1366, 84th R.S.
House Committee on Environmental Regulation  
Charge 2: Surface water management compliance
Charge 3: Local environmental regulation initiatives; resolve ambiguous regulations regarding priority of state or local authority
May 3
House Committees on Economic & Small Business Development and Public Education (Joint Hearing)   
Joint charge: Partnerships between higher education institutions, public school districts, and workforce that promote postsecondary readiness 
Rules and laws limiting employers from providing internships or apprenticeships 
Workforce training, incentivizing business to invest in training 
May 4
Senate Committee on Business & Commerce
Topic: Penalty calculations under the current prompt payment of health care claim laws and regulations
Topic: Implementation of legislation, specifically legislation intended to further protect consumers from the balance billing process
Eightieth Legislature, Regular Session, 2007, Texas Department of Insurance, January 2009
Senate Select Committee on Texas Ports
Topic: Committee rules and organizational business
Topic: Economic impact of inland waterways, coastal ports, and inland ports on the state economy
Topic: Future impact of Panama Canal expansion on Texas ports
Charge: Interstate Compact: cost-benefit analysis of a potential interstate compact on border security, and the constitutional and legal questions
Topic: TDCJ invited testimony answering questions from previous hearing on PEP
  • Interim Hearings - Week of March 21, Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs & Military Installations, Subcommittee on Border Security, Legislative Reference Library, March 14, 2016
May 5
Charge 15: Higher education funding formulas
Joint Interim Committee to Study Border Security
Topic: Implementation of HB 11, 84th Legislature, R.S., and additional border security efforts

Week in Review, April 21

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • Examine child well-being in Texas. (Center for Public Policy Priorities / Texas Kids Count Project, April 2016)
  • Read a report on white supremacist prison gangs. (Anti-Defamation League, April 18, 2016)
  • Get a state by state list of funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. (National Park Service, April 18, 2016)
  • See how much it costs to produce a barrel of oil and gas. (The Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2016)

New & Noteworthy List for April 2016

The Library is continually adding new books to its collection. Below are the six titles from our April 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.

The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State By Lisa McGirr
Examines the United States' "noble experiment" of alcohol prohibition and how it impacted American society, both between 1920-1933 and beyond. Details the growth of the temperance movement in the early 20th century, which led to the implementation of the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act. Explores ways in which the prohibition of alcohol changed America's social culture, leading to women more regularly joining in social drinking and the integration of illicit drinking establishments in higher numbers than had been previously seen. Profiles the expansion of policing, surveillance, and punishment under the Volstead Act, which greatly increased the number of people incarcerated in America, and served as a precursor to modern anti-narcotics campaigns.
W.W. Norton & Company, 2016. 330 pages.
363.41 M178W 2016


Texas and the Mexican Revolution: A Study in State and National Border Policy 1910-1920 By Don M. Coerver and Linda B. Hall
Explores responses and interactions of Texas Governors and Washington politicians as each dealt with the border upheaval caused by the Mexican revolution in the decade, 1910-1920. Suggests jurisdictional friction and misunderstandings were partially due to the differing goals of the state's border policy versus federal foreign policy. Concludes while the border is a legal concept, the Rio Grande represented a region in which social, cultural, religious, and economic relationships transcended an international boundary and integrated the area, intensifying the effect of the revolution in the United States.
Trinity University Press, 1984. 167 pages.
976.4 C651T 1984


Diploma Mills: How For-Profit Colleges Stiffed Students, Taxpayers, and the American Dream By A.J. Angulo
Explores the history of colleges and universities in America from the earliest colonial period. Explains that while the earliest non-profit colleges mainly offered a classical curriculum, profit seekers realized that apprenticeships with more practical applications were badly needed in the colonies. Discusses the idea that these apprenticeships were the basis of what is now a multi-billion dollar industry mainly referred to as "for-profit colleges and universities," and how, in many cases, these institutions have become disreputable diploma mills. Argues a large number of for-profit colleges engage in predatory practices and poverty profiteering. Explains that these for-profit institutions are responsible for a large portion of the 1.2 trillion dollar student debt that threatens to destabilize the entire federal student aid program and could potentially bring about the next major economic downturn in this country.
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016. 203 pages.
378.04 AN48D 2016


Toward a More Perfect University By Jonathan R. Cole
Examines challenges facing modern American research universities, including admission policies, rising costs, innovation, governance, and academic freedom. Addresses the economic value and affordability of higher education and the role of state governments. Proposes structural university finance reforms at the state and federal levels.
PublicAffairs, 2016. 409 pages.
378.73 C675T 2016



The Gun Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know By Phillip Cook and Kristin A. Ross
Presents the topic of guns and gun control in a Q&A format. Challenges both the gun rights and gun control movements with a variety of insightful, well-researched, and objective inquiries. Explores the history, culture, and politics of the gun debate that leads to such divisive and ardent stances on the issue of guns.
Oxford University Press, 2014. 280 pages.
363.33 C772G 2014



Obamacare Wars: Federalism, State Politics and the Affordable Care Act By Daniel Beland, Philip Rocco, and Alex Waddan
Provides an account of the varied political battles over the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the fifty states. Attributes the diversity of state level opposition to and acceptance of Obamacare implementation to the politics of health care reform. Focuses on three major policy reform streams of the ACA - health insurance exchanges, Medicaid expansion, and regulatory reforms - to explain the law's complex and uneven implementation. Highlights the implementation of the ACA in Texas.
University Press of Kansas, 2016. 215 pages.
368.382 B41O 2016

Interim Hearings - Week of April 25

Interim Hearings - Week of April 25
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.
April 25 Top
House Committee on Business & Industry    
Charge: Texas businesses' utilization of the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit
April 26 Top
Joint Charge: Manufacturing and trade
House Committee on Natural Resources
Charge 4: Seawater desalination
Charge 5: Funds available to Texas in relation to 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Charge 9: Legislative oversight and monitoring
Senate Committee on Higher Education    
Charge: Tuition and student debt, specifically: Texas comparison to peer states, variance between institutions, accountability measures, and increases in tuition since 2003
April 27 Top
Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform & Relief
Charge: Property tax process
Charge: Tax burden
House Select Committee on Mental Health 
Mental/behavioral health care services in Texas, including early identification, crisis intervention, access to care, continuity of care, coordination of services related to an integrated system of care, delivery of care in rural, urban, and underserved areas; workforce challenges
April 28 Top
Charge: Small business expansion and growth
House Committees on Economic & Small Business Development and Energy Resources (Joint Hearing) 
Joint Charge: Impacts of declining price of oil and continuously depressed price of natural gas on the Texas economy and the fiscal implications for the Texas budget 
House Select Committee on Emerging Issues In Texas Law Enforcement
Charge 3: Law enforcement training and professional needs
House Committee on State Affairs
Charge: Human fetal tissue for medical and scientific purposes
Charge: State contracting procedures (a revised notice dated 4/18/2016 removed this charge from the agenda)
Charge: Disaster preparedness
Charge: Continued operation of the state government and economy
House Select Committee on Mental Health  
Mental/behavioral health care services in Texas (see April 27)

Week in Review, April 14

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • Track current state minimum wages. (National Conference of State Legislatures, April 4, 2016)
  • Read about nonbank mortgage servicers. (U.S. Government Accountability Office, March 2016)
  • See which cities in America are shrinking the fastest. (24/7 Wall St., April 4, 2016)
  • Search articles related to criminal justice. (The Marshall Project, accessed April 13, 2016)

The LRL Celebrates National Library Week

This week, the Texas Legislative Reference Library joins libraries across the U.S. in celebrating the dynamic changes that are happening in today's libraries. April 10-16 is National Library Week, a time to highlight the tools and services that modern-day libraries offer to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

During the interim, our work at the library continues full speed. Forming the backbone to much of this work is an active digitization program that puts legislative history resources online at users' fingertips.  As a result of digitization, our patrons can better access library resources, and answering patron questions has been greatly streamlined for our staff. 

Much of our digitization work has been facilitated by the acquisition of high-speed scanners and a book scanner that has enabled us to work with fragile and tightly bound items.

Legislative bill files and committee minutes:

The library is the legal custodian of legislative bill files from the 63rd Legislature (1973) to the present, and scanning these bill files, as well as older bill files in the collection of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, is one of our major ongoing projects. After bill files are scanned, they are made available online through our Legislative Archive System. This system offers basic and advanced searching, and adds value to bill files by linking related newspaper clips, interim reports, and other resources. The system currently contains bills files going back to the 33rd Legislature (1913), and scanning for earlier sessions is in progress.

In a related project, the library has been scanning legislative committee minutes. These are made available through a standalone database on our website, and have also been incorporated into the Legislative Archive System.

Newspaper clipping service:

The library's daily newspaper clipping service began in the early 1970s, and for many years was assembled by cutting articles out of newspapers and pasting them onto sheets of paper. In the last decade, "the clips" has evolved into a nearly paperless service, with articles distributed digitally, and the availability of an online, searchable database of clips. Since many Texas newspapers do not provide historical indexes, the clips database is a favorite, and often crucial, tool for background research, allowing capitol staff to search by subject, headline, or author for articles back to 1901.

For the past several years, each article in the clips has also been linked to any bills, court documents, or reports mentioned in the article. This valuable service makes it simple to locate a list of articles about a bill or to provide a copy of reports and studies referred to (often vaguely) in articles. A recently added feature groups together key court documents related to a case mentioned in a newspaper article.

House and Senate journals:

The library began scanning journals in 2006 with a goal of making the complete collection of House and Senate journals from the Republic of Texas (1836) to the present available online. Legislative journals are a rich source of information that contain the proceedings of the legislature on any given day of session, as well as speeches, gubernatorial documents, and in some cases, legislative research reports.  They are often the only source of legislative history for early bills. 

Since the start of the project, journals from the Republic of Texas (1836) through the 28th Legislature (1903) have been digitized and put online, and most journals from 1951 through the present are also available online. Future phases of the project include making the digitized journals text-searchable and integrating them into the Legislative Archive System.

Members of the Texas Legislature:

During the interim, many of our projects focus on recapturing the history of the Texas Legislature and making it available online. Not long ago, answering simple questions about a member's term of service or committee membership required consulting a card file and stacks of books, and more complicated questions might have required days or weeks of intricate research.  All that has changed since the library developed the Texas Legislators: Past and Present database, which digitized much of the information contained in our card files and stores member-related information we have compiled from journals and other sources. Today, many of the member-related questions we receive can be answered through a simple database query.

Vetoes and constitutional amendments:

Over the past several years, we have built databases to store detailed information on specialized topics such as vetoes and constitutional amendments. As part of the project, we collect and scan original documents like veto messages issued by the governor.  Having this information has enabled us to answer a variety of questions more easily and more quickly. Our vetoes system is particularly useful after the end of a legislative session, and our constitutional amendments system is heavily used leading up to an election in which proposed constitutional amendments are on the ballot.

The library has other digitization projects in addition to those mentioned here, and we are happy to answer questions about them. We aim to provide the best tools and services available for Texas legislative research.


Interim Hearings - Week of April 18

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.
April 19 Top
House Committee on Appropriations
Charge 1 (partial): Potential fiscal policy challenges or economic disruptions in the 2016-17 biennium, including impact of oil and natural gas price declines on the Texas economy
Charge 5: Accumulation of funds in the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund, particularly in light of HB 903, 84th Legislature, R.S.; accuracy of prior ESF revenue predictions, feasibility of long-term projections
Senate Committee on Education CANCELLED
Charge: Digital learning, expansion of broadband access in school districts and student homes
April 20 Top
Charge: Implementation of HB 9, 84th Legislature, R.S., and updated projections towards actuarial soundness of the Employees Retirement System; cost of living adjustments or "13th Checks" to retired state employees
House Committee on Juvenile Justice & Family Issues CANCELLED
Organizational meeting
Senate Committee on Health & Human Services
Charge: Higher acuity children with trauma and mental illness in the state foster care system
Charge: Disrupted foster care adoptions
Charge: Current Child Protective Services process to track recurrence of child abuse and neglect
April 21 Top
Senate Committee on Health & Human Services
Topic: Update from the Inspector General of the Health and Human Services Commission on efforts to reform the Office of the Inspector General, and on the IG Integrity Initiative
Charge: Refugees relocating to Texas, Refugee Resettlement Program

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