"Failure to have the views of the minority represented is failure to have a democracy. The minority side of the house is seldom comfortable. You can become unpopular by just jogging people's conscience. If you keep telling them they know what is right, but aren't doing it, then you get to be a thorn under their saddle." – Babe Schwartz
Sen. Babe Schwartz fought for what mattered to him throughout his career, and what a career it has been! You can learn more about Sen. Schwartz’s life and contributions in our exhibit, “A Texas Treasure: A.R. 'Babe' Schwartz.”
Born in 1926 to Russian immigrant parents, Aaron Robert “Babe” Schwartz grew up as a self-described “beach bum” on Galveston Island. After graduating from Ball High School, he proudly served in the U.S. Navy from 1944–1946, and then in the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 1948–1953. Schwartz graduated from Texas A&M in 1948 and earned his law degree at the University of Texas in 1951. Later that year, he married wife Marilyn; they went on to have four sons and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
While in law school, Schwartz worked for the chief clerk's office in the Texas House of Representatives and in the Texas Legislative Council. He returned to his hometown to serve as a prosecutor in the Galveston County attorney’s office for a few years, but he was eager to run for office. Schwartz served as a representative from 1955–1959, and then as a senator from 1960–1981.
"I always felt it necessary to be a little better educated, a little better prepared, a little better briefed than my opposition." – Babe Schwartz
A thread that runs throughout Sen. Schwartz’s life is his affinity for the Texas coast. One of his first jobs—at age 11—was on the beach, renting beach chairs, umbrellas, and other shoreline gear. While serving in the legislature, he was instrumental in the creation of the 1959 Open Beaches Act and the passage of the Coastal Public Lands Management Act of 1973. He chaired multiple committees, many relating to beaches and the coast. After his terms in the legislature, Schwartz went on to serve as a lobbyist, often for environmental causes, and he taught law school courses including Ocean and Coastal Law. In honor of these contributions, "Babe's Beach," a stretch of shoreline west of 61st Street in Galveston, was dedicated in May 2016.
As his quotations above suggest, Sen. Schwartz also made quite a name for himself as a fighter who was willing and prepared to go nose-to-nose in the chambers. He participated in at least seven filibusters. Lt. Governor Bill Hobby even gave Schwartz a pair of boxing gloves after one of his debates.
"There are few people in recent Texas politics who have had as much impact as Babe has. He has provided a rallying post on bill after bill. He has been the real conscience of the Senate on any number of bad appointments over the years. He's experienced and perceptive and he can frequently catch a bad bill no one else sees. He has no reluctance to stand up and take on any issue that he perceives to be adverse to the public interest. His departure leaves a great void that will be difficult to fill." – U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who served in the 63rd, 64th, and 65th Texas Legislatures with Schwartz
Visit the LRL to see some of Sen. Schwartz’s memorabilia and to learn more about his life and career.
Sen. Schwartz passed away on August 10, 2018, at age 92. We will miss you, Babe!
It's easy to take for granted the work of compiling the law. Once the session is over and the governor signs the bills, everything is done, right? Far from it. Preparing volumes that update the law requires time and careful consideration. In this display we took a look at some of the important resources for studying Texas legislative history and the people who laid the foundations for the structure of our laws.
Drawing from our "Who Is..." blog series, the exhibit profiles the lives and work of George W. Paschal, John Sayles, H.P.N. Gammel, and Joseph W. Vernon, all of whose contributions we see reflected in our contemporary Texas legislative publications. Learn who hung up the laws to dry after the Capitol fire, who represented the Cherokee Nation in several important cases, who helped establish the law department at Baylor University, and who never resided in Texas but has his name on our law publications today. (And if you can't make it in person, click on the collages below to learn more about Texas' law compilers.)
Did you know that you can subscribe to RSS feeds for the Index to Sections Affected, LRL Daily Clips, and this blog? Here are the links you'll use to access the location files:
- Index to Sections Affected: http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legis/isaf/isaf.xml
- Clips: http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/currentIssues/clips/atom.xml
- Blog: http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/whatsNew/client/rss.cfm?mode=full
(Or, click on the orange RSS icons in the Quick Links navigation on our homepage to get the ISAf and clips links, and the orange RSS box on the top left of this blog.)
Copy and paste that URL into whatever program you use to receive/organize RSS feeds. If you use Outlook, select the RSS Feeds folder, Add a New RSS Feed, and then paste the URL into the "location" box.
You will start receiving ISAf updates as bills are indexed, as blog entries are posted, and/or daily clips, directly in the Outlook folder or your e-reader of choice. And if you decide you don't want to subscribe anymore, simply delete the folder.
A recent report by VisibleThread examined how well Texas state agencies communicate through their websites. Sites were evaluated in terms of their readability, average sentence length, use of passive voice, and use of complex language. Out of 54 Texas government websites, the Legislative Reference Library site ranked 6th overall, and out of all sites used the least amount of passive voice. The report emphasized the importance of clear, concise, well-organized web content to better foster citizen engagement.
Cover image by Elena Hruleva via Barnimages.com
The Texas Legislative Reference Library has recently received a collection of documents from the late Austin attorney Mark L. Kincaid. Mr. Kincaid was known as "The Policyholder's Lawyer." He had established a reputation for crafting public policy for the protection of insurance policy holders who had little or no ability to prevent abuses in the claims process. Kincaid's papers enhance the Joe K. Longley-Philip K. Maxwell Deceptive Trade Practices Act Legislative Archive housed at the library.
Spanning two decades, from 1995 through 2015, the collection showcases Kincaid's efforts to curb tort reform, to document the 74th Legislature's intent behind H.B. 668, and to monitor and influence changes to the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The collection includes legislation, analyses on a variety of bills, testimony transcripts, PowerPoint presentations, and correspondence with many interested parties.
Mark L. Kincaid passed away on January 19, 2016, but he leaves a legacy of research and experience that will benefit the legislative and legal communities for years to come. The collection is not yet entirely processed by the Library, but we couldn't wait to give you a preview.
Mark L. Kincaid, 1959-2016
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry's portrait was unveiled last week (whoop!), giving us the perfect opportunity to highlight our Texas governor pages. The LRL's Texas governor pages serve as a portal to a variety of information about Texas governors, including biographical information, term dates, previous offices held, and more. You can even see images of the governor portraits that hang in the Capitol Rotunda.
A favorite feature of the Texas governor pages is a searchable database that contains a wide range of gubernatorial documents for each Texas governor, including vetoes, executive orders, legislative messages, proclamations, speeches, and even inaugural invitation materials. In addition to our online governor materials, the library also has a large collection of hard copy materials that includes bound press memo volumes. For questions or assistance using the governor pages or governor materials in our collection, please contact the library at (512) 463-1252.
If you're interested in learning more about our Texas governor pages, see our previous blog posts on this topic.
In a recent blog post, we discussed committee minute availability. This week, we're continuing our focus on Texas legislative committees by taking a look at the library's Committee Search page.
The library's Committee Search page allows users to find information like committee membership, committee charges, published interim reports, and in some cases, committee minutes. You can use our committee search page to answer questions like:
- What were the standing and joint committees of the 69th Legislature?
- Has there ever been a committee to look at auto theft? (Answer: yes)
- What issues has the Senate Natural Resources Committee examined over the last 5 sessions?
- How long did the House Cultural and Historical Resources Committee exist and who served on it?
You can also search by committee member last name or by committee member role, which allows you to answer questions such as:
- What committees has my state senator or representative served on during their time in the legislature?
- Did he or she ever chair a committee?
- Who has chaired the Senate Finance Committee during its history?
There are many more committee-related questions that can be answered using our committee search page. For assistance or questions, please contact the library at (512) 463-1252.
Image: Committee search page on the LRL website.
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)
The Texas Capitol is conveniently located near much of the SXSW action, and is a perfect place to visit if you want to take a break. The building is open M-F, 7am - 10pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 9am-8pm. Here are some spaces you might want to check out if you visit:
- Legislative Reference Library (2nd floor, Rm. 2N.3): The library space is original to the building, and has been in continuous use as a library since 1889. There is much to see, including books, paintings, sculptures, and exhibits that will appeal to all ages, even the young ones. While you're in the library, check out Santa Anna's Chair, and learn about some of the artwork on permanent display. We are open to the public, M-F, 8am-5pm.
- House and Senate Chambers (2nd floor, east and west wings): Though the Texas Legislature is not in session this year, try not to miss the House and Senate chambers. Both are open to the public, and you'll be able to see where Texas lawmakers debate legislation. In addition, both chambers boast an impressive collection of paintings and photos of early legislatures.
- Capitol Rotunda (1st floor): Many an Instagram pic has been taken in the Capitol Rotunda, and for good reason. The space offers some of the best views of the Capitol dome interior. In addition, the Rotunda is lined with portraits of former Texas governors, going all the way back to the early days of Texas statehood (spans four floors).
- The Capitol Visitors Center: Located in its own building in the southeast corner of the Capitol grounds, the Capitol Visitors Center has ongoing exhibits, and serves as a good jumping off point for your visit at the Capitol. They also offer guided tours.
- Texas Supreme Courtroom and Texas Appeals Courtroom (3rd floor, north wing): In their early history, the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Appeals heard cases in the Texas Capitol. Both courts have since moved to new spaces outside of the building, but the rooms are still there, and have been restored to their historic appearance.
We hope that you enjoy your visit to the Texas Capitol. If you snap any pics, don't forget the #texasstatecapitol hashtag!
Photo courtesy of the Texas State Preservation Board.
The library has created a new research guide that provides an overview of the 1965 revision of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Included in the guide is a timeline and overview of the revision process, an annotated list of legislation that lead to the enactment of the new Code of Criminal Procedure in 1965, links to previous versions of the Code, and documents available for each year of the revision process. The guide serves as an excellent resource for discovering materials in the library collection that are relevant to the Code of Criminal Procedure's revision, and may aid researchers in tracing the reasoning and intent of specific statutory language.
This is the library's second such research guide; the first guide provided information relating to the Penal Code revision.