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Library-Related Bills Begin to Move

Advocacy, TLA News

The March 8 bill filing deadline has passed, and members of the Legislature are turning their attention to moving their bills. It’s a long, convoluted process, with many obstacles along the way. And just when you experience success, that joy is tempered by the realization that you have to go through everything again when the bill moves to other chamber. Here’s a brief update on several bills which TLA is working on:

SB 1 and HB 1 – Appropriations

TLA members testified in support of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) budget at the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Article I subcommittee hearings. We asked that the Legislature approve the agency’s budget request, and include the $4.2 million exceptional item request to increase access to affordable eBooks.

We also submitted testimony in support of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Open Education Resources (OER) exceptional item requests.

Both committees are finalizing decisions on which, if any exceptional items will be added to the final budget. Once those decisions are made, the bills must be approved by the committees, then by the full House or Senate – and then one version will end up in a conference committee.

SB 3 – $5000 pay raise for classroom teachers and school librarians. Thanks to outstanding advocacy by countless school librarians across the state, Senator Jane Nelson, the bill’s sponsor, offered an amendment on the Senate floor which added school librarians to the bill. The Senate unanimously voted in favor of the bill. TLA and TASL testified in support of the bill which has been referred to the House Public Education Committee.

HB 700 – Expands the types of organizations that can apply for grants from the Texas Workforce Commission Skills Development Fund to include public libraries, local workforce development boards, and school districts. TLA supports this bill and provided testimony at the March 18 committee hearing.

HB 703 – Extends the length of time before birth records enter the public domain from 75 years to 125 years. We oppose this bill and provided testimony to the Public Health Committee expressing our concerns.

HB 1960 – creates a governor’s broadband council. TLA supports the creation of the council, but currently libraries are not included on the council. We contacted the bill’s sponsor to ask that libraries be included, and provided information on the important role libraries play in broadband access.

HB 1962 – reauthorizes the Texas State Library & Archives Commission for another 12 years. This is the bill which came out of the TSLAC Sunset process. TLA members testified in support of the bill at a recent hearing and we expect the bill to pass out of committee in the next couple of weeks.

Find all of the latest information on these and other bills at