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Research Minute: Legislative Archive System Updated through 85th Legislature

The Legislative Archive System (LAS) recently has been updated with scans of the session laws for the 85th Regular Session and the 85th 1st Called Session. Use LAS to find bill information such as:

  • Authors and sponsors
  • Actions
  • Bill analyses
  • Conference committee membership and reports
  • Session law PDFs from General and Special Laws of Texas
  • Signature statements by the Governor
  • Signed copies of legislation
  • Subjects
  • Index to Sections Affected
  • News clips and Current Articles from the library's journals, law reviews, and newsletters
  • Bill-session law chapter cross reference. (In the direct search, you may search by bill number, or for a list of all legislation that became law, use "search by session law chapter," select 85th, leave the chapter space blank, and click "search by chapter.")

With Advanced Search, users can combine multiple search terms, such as authors/sponsors, subjects, caption keyword, etc. You also can search across multiple legislative sessions.

 

The Legislative Archive System is an ongoing project, so all of these documents and access points are not available for all sessions. You can find scanned PDF bill files from the 33rd–43rd (1913–1933) and 46th–79th (1939–2005); bill information for the 80th–85th Legislatures is also searchable in the database. See the project status chart for details.

Legislating on the Range: Ending the Fence Cutting War of the 1880s

For most of the 1800s, Texas was open range. Then barbed wire came along, and even a trail driver like William H. Day saw the benefits of owning and then fencing off his newly purchased land in Coleman County. His wife, Mabel Doss Day, wrote about his efforts in a September 1879 letter: "Col. Day is building a fence around his pasture, which when done will contain forty thousand acres of land….He has twenty men at work on the fence and it keeps him busy bossing them."[1]

 

Mabel Day's involvement in the ranch became much more hands-on in 1881, after her husband died from injuries sustained in a stampede. To address debt and other concerns, she reorganized as Day Cattle Ranch Company, sold half-interests in her cattle to investors in Kentucky (while retaining full title to the land), and by 1883, Day Cattle Ranch was the largest fenced ranch in Texas.[2] Mabel Day became known as the "Cattle Queen of Texas."[3]

 

However, 1883 also saw an extensive drought and with it, the beginning of the fence wars. Cowmen without land struggled to find adequate grass and water on public land, and landowners sometimes were guilty of enclosing public land and roads with their fences. At least three men were killed in fights between fence cutters and ranchmen, and by fall 1883, damage from fence wrecking was estimated at $20 million.[4]

 

On September 13, 1883—135 years ago this week—the Austin Weekly Statesman noted that wire fence cutting had arrived in Coleman County.[5] Mabel Day was one of the many whose fence suffered. "They cut more than five miles of her fence and tacked a notice on her gate post that if she put the fence back up 'there would be the largest coroner's inquest in that pasture ever held in Texas.'" She did put the fence back up, only to have 10 more miles cut in broad daylight. Even when she sent armed men out to protect her fence, they were outnumbered, and she lost more than 100 miles of fence.[6]

 

Mabel Day became one of the leading voices in urging the legislature to action. Her letter to the editor of the Coleman Voice was reprinted in several newspapers, including the October 11, 1883, Austin Weekly Statesman: " For my part I think the men (?) who destroyed five miles of my fence last week could have with as much justice burnt my house…. I would like to address a question to the stockmen of this section. Is there no recourse for us in the matter? Should you, as business and law abiding men adopt any plan to protect your property I would beg to considered as one among you."[7]

 

A few days later on October 15, Gov. John Ireland called a special session of the 18th Legislature to convene in January 1884 and address fourteen topics, including "to consider and provide a remedy for wanton destruction of fences." In his message to the Legislature when they convened, Gov. Ireland casted blame on both the ranch owners and fence cutters. The House Committee on Fence Cutting was formed, several versions of bills to address the matter were introduced, and much debate ensued.

 

A central point of dispute for the lawmakers was whether punishment should be equal for illegal fence cutting and illegal fence building. In the final January 31 vote on House Bills 2, 8, and 9, Reps. Wortham, Galt, Garrison, and Burns are recorded in the House Journal saying, "We vote "no," because we believe that the punishment for the unlawful fencing of land and the cutting of a fence should be alike—that is to say, if the crime of fence cutting is declared a felony, the unlawful fencing of land should also be declared a felony. To do otherwise will very naturally be construed to mean class legislation, and create widespread dissatisfaction, well calculated to aggravate the evil now afflicting the State."

 

However, the bills passed in a 71-22 vote. Acts 1884, 18th 1st C.S.,ch. 21, General Laws of Texas, set out punishment for fence cutters; Acts 1884, 18th 1st C.S.,ch. 24, General Laws of Texas, required gateways in every three miles of fencing. Faced with jail time, the fence cutters put down their wire cutters; ranch owners installed gates. Mabel Day married Captain J.C. Lea in 1899 and moved with him to New Mexico, but she continued to oversee her Coleman County ranch. At the time of Mabel's death in 1906, her daughter inherited debt-free (and fenced) land.[8]

 

Tile image by Flickr user eflon and used under a Creative Commons Attribution Generic license.

 
[1] "Colonel William H. Day: Texas Ranchman," by James T. Padgitt, The Southwestern Historical Quarterly v. 53, July 1949-April 1950, Texas State Historical Association, Austin, TX (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101126/, accessed August 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History.

[2] Handbook of Texas Online, Elizabeth Maret, "Lea, Mabel Doss," accessed August 21, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/flejr.

[3] Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Fall 1984; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45447/: accessed August 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History.

[4] Handbook of Texas Online, Wayne Gard, "Fence cutting," accessed August 21, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/auf01.

[5] "Mrs. Mabel Day and the Fence Cutters," by James T. Padgitt, West Texas Historical Association Year Book, October 1950, https://padgitt.blogspot.com/2012/11/mrs-mabel-day-and-fence-cutters.html, accessed September 5, 2018.

[6] "Fence Cutting War Was Stormy Time," Coleman Democrat-Voice, August 12, 1980, (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth733459/, accessed August 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History.

[7] The Austin Weekly Statesman, v. 13, No. 6, Ed. 1, Thursday, October 11, 1883, (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth277915/: accessed August 29, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History.

[8] Handbook of Texas Online, Elizabeth Maret, "Lea, Mabel Doss."

Bills Effective, September 1–December 31, 2018

On September 1, 2018, 10 bills or sections thereof that were passed by the 85th Legislature will take effect. SB 550, 84R also will take effect on September 1.

 

In addition, sections of SB 1329 and HB 2950, 85th Legislature, will take effect on October 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, respectively.

 

To keep up with new laws throughout the year, check the Library's list of bill effective dates.

Resource Highlight: 12th–15th Legislature Enrolled Bills Now Available

Basic bill information for enrolled bills from the 12th–15th Legislatures (1870–1876) is now available in the Legislative Archive System (LAS). This includes bill numbers, captions, chapters numbers, and session law scans. We've also added the joint and concurrent resolutions that were published in the General and Special Session Laws to LAS from these sessions.

Enrolled bills from the 12th–15th Legislatures are accessible through both the direct search and the advanced search. When using the advanced search, select "View All" for the bill status.
 

Please note that enrolled bills from the following two sessions are only accessible through the direct search in LAS:

  • 12th Adjourned Session (Sept. 22, 1871–Dec. 2, 1871)
  • 14th 2nd Regular Session (Jan. 22, 1875–March 15, 1875)

For related information about these and other sessions, don't forget to check the session snapshot and the scanned House and Senate Journals.

Since LAS is a work in progress, complete information is not available for all bills and all sessions. Visit LAS' status page for more details about this ongoing project. For assistance using LAS, please contact the library.

 

 

Pest Practices: A Legislative Battle with the Boll Weevil

In 2015, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced that the boll weevil had been completely eradicated in the West Texas Maintenance Area, and that it was functionally eradicated in several other regions. Around a hundred years after the cotton crop pest was first noted to be in Texas, the bugs are finally, mostly, gone...or at least more controlled.

 

But in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the snout beetle's destructive impact on the Texas cotton industry was looking quite dire. Described in the Handbook of Texas Online as "one of the most devastating pests ever introduced to American agriculture," an estimated 700,000 bales were lost to the boll weevil in 1904, at a cost of $42 million. The blow to Texas' cotton culture kept growing as the insects spread to every cotton production area in Texas. Boll weevils resisted all of the agriculture industry's conventional insecticides and anti-pest practices of the time.

 

Something had to be done. In 1899, the state appointed Frederick W. Mally as state entomologist and charged him with combating the weevils. His plans were lauded by subsequent entomologists, but heavy rainfall and the Galveston hurricane of 1900, along with inadequate funding, derailed his efforts.

 

E. Dwight Sanderson was named the next state entomologist in 1901. The state also decided to try a new tactic. With HB 243, 28R, the legislature appropriated a $50,000 prize "to be paid to any one who will discover and furnish a practical remedy that will exterminate the cotton boll weevil, and $2,500.00 for expenses and per diem of committee to pass on the findings of said person or persons." In today's dollars, that prize would be more than $1 million—but still just a fraction of the money that was lost annually to the boll weevil's destruction. Gov. S.W.T. Lanham announced the award 115 years ago this week, on the steps of the Capitol in July 1903. 

 

According to the Handbook of Texas, "the prize offered by the legislature made both themselves and the boll weevil a figure of fun for newspapers throughout the nation, and this episode is sometimes found in civics or government texts as an illustration of the foolishness of lawmaking bodies." Although Texas newspaper articles testify to citizens' interest in the prize, it was never claimed.

 

Between 1899 and 2013, 32 bills were introduced with "boll weevil" in the caption, illustrating the ongoing battle with the bugs. The current statutes on "Cotton Diseases and Pests" can be found in Chapter 74 of the Agriculture Code. Starting around 1903, boll weevil pest management efforts began to see more promising results on Walter C. Porter's demonstration farm at Terrell, under the leadership of Seaman A. Knapp. Most recently, with the help of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (established by SB 30, 73R), boll weevils are much fewer and farther between in Texas now…without the incentive of cash prizes from the Legislature. 

 

The Austin-American Statesman, Saturday, July 18, 1903 excerpt courtesy of Newspapers.com. Tile image courtesy of the Internet Archive and Flickr Creative Commons, from the 26th Annual Catalogue and Pricelist of Seeds, 1899 (Alexander Seed Company), U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture Library.

Resource Highlight: Deceptive Trade Practices Act Collection

On May 15, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that his office filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) involving the company’s prescription opioids. 

 

Addressing the marketing of prescription opioid drugs is just one instance of the DTPA at work...and the Legislative Reference Library has a wealth of information about the Act. The 63rd Texas Legislature, Regular Session, created the DTPA in 1973 through HB 417 and its companion bill SB 75. In 2004, Joe K. Longley and Philip K. Maxwell donated documents to the LRL relating to the DTPA and its private remedies amendments.

 

In 2016, the DTPA collection was enhanced by the addition of the Mark L. Kincaid Papers. Kincaid, who was known as "The Policyholder's Lawyer," had 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. His records showcase efforts to curb tort reform and document the intent behind key legislation, and to monitor and influence changes to the DTPA.

 

Explore the LRL's Deceptive Trade Practices Act collection to view legislative drafts, transcripts of hearings, correspondence, news clippings, talking points, and other commentary, to gain a better understanding of the Act's legislative intent and history. You can search for specific keywords, types of documents, and by date ranges and/or bill numbers, or you can simply browse the collection.

 

TxLege Terms: Concurrent/Joint/Simple Resolutions

In this occasional series, we explain terms used in the Texas legislative environment.

 

Texas legislators can introduce three types of resolutions*: 

 

Concurrent Resolution—A type of legislative measure that requires adoption by both chambers of the legislature and generally requires action by the governor. A concurrent resolution is used to convey the sentiment of the legislature and may offer a commendation, a memorial, a statement of congratulations, a welcome, or a request for action by another governmental entity. Concurrent resolutions are also used to memorialize (petition) the U.S. Congress, express the views of the legislature, designate official state symbols, and adopt official date or place designations. Additionally, concurrent resolutions are used for administrative matters that require the approval of both chambers, such as providing for adjournment or a joint session, but these types of concurrent resolutions do not require action by the governor.

 

Joint Resolution—A type of legislative measure that requires adoption by both chambers of the legislature but does not require action by the governor. A joint resolution is used to propose amendments to the Texas Constitution, ratify amendments to the U.S. Constitution, or request a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Before becoming effective, the provisions of joint resolutions proposing amendments to the Texas Constitution must be approved by the voters of Texas.

 

Simple Resolution—The type of legislative measure that is considered only within the chamber in which it is filed. A simple resolution can offer a commendation, a memorial, a statement of congratulations, a welcome, or the views of that chamber. This type of measure is also used to name a mascot, memorialize (petition) the U.S. Congress, adopt or change rules of procedure, initiate a study by a single chamber, and request action by another governmental entity.

 

Resolutions in the 85th Legislature
Introduced
Signed/Filed/Enrolled
Concurrent Resolutions, 85R
202
97
Concurrent Resolutions, 85(1)
22
2
Joint Resolutions, 85R
169
9
Joint Resolutions, 85(1)
52
0
Simple Resolutions, 85R
3,670
3,643
Simple Resolutions, 85(1)
663
654

 

*Definitions taken from the Texas Legislative Glossary, published by the Texas Legislative Council for the 85th Legislature.

Texas Official Capital Designations

Did you know that Bridgeport is the Stagecoach Capital of Texas, the Lake Whitney area is the Getaway Capital of Texas, and Richardson is the International Business Capital of North Texas? Government Code § 391.003 lays out the guidelines for the legislature to assign “place designations.” The designations must reflect some historical or cultural significance, and the legislature may not assign the same designation to more than one event or location. A place designation lasts for 10 years but may be renewed with a new resolution. See below for a list of place designations established by the 83rd–85th Legislatures. (You can see a full list of place designations here.)

 

85th Legislature Designations

Place
Designation
Resolution
Big Spring
Lighted Poinsettia Capital of Texas
Dripping Springs
Wedding Capital of Texas
Rockwall
Live Music Capital of North Texas
Spurger
Knife Capital of Texas
Stamford
Western Art Show Capital of Texas

 

84th Legislature Designations

Place
Designation
Resolution
Abilene
Storybook Capital of Texas
Brownsville
Bicycling Capital of the Rio Grande Valley
Dripping Springs
Wedding Capital of Texas
Jasper
Butterfly Capital of Texas
Jim Hogg County
Vaquero Capital of Texas
Nocona
Classic Car Capital of Texas
Poteet
Strawberry Capital of Texas
Quitaque
Bison Capital of Texas
Terry County
Grape Capital of Texas

 

83rd Legislature Designations

Place
Designation
Resolution
Canton
Walking Capital of Texas
Floydada
Pumpkin Capital of Texas
Garland
Cowboy Hat Capital of Texas
Grand Prairie
Purple Martin Conservation Capital of Texas
Gregg County
Balloon Race Capital of Texas
Jewett
Sculpture Capital of Texas
Mansfield
Pickle Capital of Texas
Nacogdoches
Garden Capital of Texas

85th Legislative Session Summaries 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 85th 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, including an analysis of the appropriations bill. The TLC overview offers summaries of all enrolled legislation, notes effective dates, and contains veto statements. The HRO overview highlights legislation on major topics, including bills that did not pass, and features extensive analysis and statements by supporters and opponents.  
 

The TLC additionally published Interim Studies Established by Enrolled Bills and Resolutions: 85th Legislature and New, Renamed, and Abolished State Governmental Entities: 85th Legislature. They also updated the online statutes and Texas Constitution to reflect the 85th Legislature's enactments and the November 2017 constitutional amendment election outcomes.
 

If you're looking for information on previous sessions, overviews back to the 48th Legislature can be found at the Legislative Reference Library's Session Summaries page.

Texas Recognition Months

Most people know of a few recognition months, like Black History Month in February and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. However, Texas observes many more recognition and awareness months. Some are codified in Government Code § 662, Subchapter D. In addition, senators and representatives pass resolutions in each session to commemorate even more recognition months. 

 

Recognition months call attention to health issues, industries, groups of people, and more. Click here to see a list of all of the recognition months observed with resolutions by the 85th Legislature. There also are a plethora of recognition weeks and days that are codified in the Government Code and honored by the legislature. Below is a sampling of some of the lesser-known recognition months:

 

January

Human Trafficking Prevention Month (Government Code § 662.107)

National Glaucoma Awareness Month (HR 2682, 85R)

 

February

Self-Care Awareness Month (HR 592, 85R)

 

March

Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month (HR 177, 85RSR 58, 85R)

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (SR 446, 85R)

 

April

Texas Fruit and Vegetable Month (Government Code § 662.103)

Distracted Driving Awareness Month (HR 2686, 85R)

 

May

Postpartum Depression Awareness Month (Government Code § 662.110)

Fallen First Responder Awareness Month (HCR 86, 85R)

 

June

Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Month (HR 2647, 85R)

National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month (HR 2687, 85R)

 

July

Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Month (Government Code § 662.101)

Train Safety Awareness Month (HCR 49, 85R)

 

August

National Immunization Awareness Month (HR 182, 85-1)

 

September

Hydrocephalus Awareness Month (Government Code § 662.106)

Hunger Action Month (HR 283, 85-1)

 

October

Persons with Disabilities History and Awareness Month (Government Code § 662.109)

Texas Pecan Month (HR 371 and HR 372, 85-1)

 

November

American Diabetes Month (HR 2692, 85R)

 
(None in December!)

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