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Legislative Reference Library of Texas
your partner in legislative research
Legislative Reference Library of Texas
your partner in legislative research

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National Library Week 2020

This week, April 19-25, 2020, is National Library Week. Although many libraries, including the Legislative Reference Library, are closed to visitors to assist with controlling the transmission of COVID-19, they continue to work to bring communities up-to-date information and structure in uncertain times.


This year's theme is "Find Your Place at the Library."  The LRL encourages you to find your place at our library as we continue to provide virtual services, access to digital resources, and reference and research assistance via e-mail and telephone.


To find out more about what we do, as well as the variety of resources we provide, we invite you to explore our website or take a virtual tour of the LRL. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, read our blog, or subscribe to one of the library's RSS feeds. We use these platforms to share useful information and resources not only related to Texas and the Texas Legislature but also COVID-19.


This year during National Library Week, let's celebrate by showing our appreciation for the many innovative ways libraries, librarians, and all library staff members are continuing to serve their communities during a time of crisis.


National Library Week 2019

This week, April 7-13, 2019, is National Library Week. This year’s theme, Libraries = Strong Communities, illustrates how today’s libraries are at the heart of our cities, towns, schools and campuses. The LRL is proud to not only serve members of the Texas Legislature and state agencies but also members of the public.


The library provides many helpful resources for constituents including:


• Bill status hotline: 877-824-7038 (toll-free in Texas). Texas residents can call toll-free for information on pending bills, committee hearings, elected officials, the legislative process, and online legislative resources. The hotline is available during session Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m., and Friday 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., with extended hours when either chamber is in session.


• State agency hotlines and citizen assistance provides frequently requested contact numbers and websites for state agencies, arranged by the following topics: Aging & Seniors; Children & Families; Consumer Protection & Tax Assistance; Courts & Legal Assistance; Health, Social Services & Public Safety; Labor, Employment & Retirement; Mortgage & Foreclosure Assistance; Natural Resources; Professional Licensing & Complaints; State Government; Transportation; and Utilities.


• Contacting your legislator includes information on how to contact members of the Legislature, as well as proper forms of address for elected officials. 


• Legislative agencies and the legislative process in Texas lists the agencies in the legislative branch with their roles and responsibilities, and includes overviews of the legislative process.


The library is open to the public for study and research purposes; however, circulation privileges are limited to legislators, their staff, and employees of other legislative agencies.


To find out more about what we do, as well as the variety of resources we provide, we invite you to visit and explore our website. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, read our blog, or subscribe to one of the library's RSS feeds.


National Library Week 2018

In honor of National Library Week, we compiled some interesting facts about the Legislative Reference Library. Did you know…

  • The LRL's current location on the second floor of the State Capitol has been in continuous use as a library since 1889. Learn more about the library's adaptive historical room treatment.
  • The Legislative Reference Library was created by Acts 1969, 61st Leg., p. 154, Ch. 55 (Senate Bill 263) and placed under the direct supervision of the Texas Legislature. However, the LRL's beginnings date to 1909, when the newly formed Texas Library and Historical Commission (now the Texas State Library and Archives Commission) was directed to establish "a section of the State Library for legislative reference and information" (Acts 1909, 31st Leg., p. 126, Ch. 70 (House Bill 142).
  • The library's print collection includes original bill files from the 63rd Legislature (1973) to the present, session laws dating back to the Republic of Texas, Texas House and Senate Journals back to the 1890s, Texas agency documents, books and periodicals covering a wide range of topics, and more. Our oldest Texas print title is the Laws Passed at a Special Session of the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas, dated 1842.
  • Our librarians are consistently working to add digitized records to our already significant collection of electronic resources. The Legislative Archive SystemTexas Legislators: Past & Present, and Constitutional Amendments are just a few of the many digital resources that can be accessed at the Capitol and beyond.
  • The Legislative Clipping Service and Clippings Archive marked its 40th anniversary in 2016 and covers the period 1900 to the present. In addition to clipping articles from about 25 Texas daily newspapers, the database includes links to bills and reports referenced in the clippings.
  • This blog, Points of Interest, hit the 1 million views mark in February 2018. With posts ranging from bill statistics to resources for interim hearings to historical perspectives and more, the blog is just one more tool we use to share our resources with the legislative community and public.

This is only a brief glance at the Legislative Reference Library's efforts to serve members of the Texas Legislature, state agencies, and the public. We invite you to explore our website, read our blog, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and/or subscribe to one of the library's RSS feeds to learn more about our tools and services available for legislative research.


Image: The Texas State Library, circa 1915. Photo courtesy of the Texas State Preservation Board.

Cover image: Rendering detail of the LRL by Laura Chapa. Image courtesy of the Texas State Preservation Board.

National Library Week 2017

This week, April 9-15, 2017, is National Library Week. Although the LRL is quite busy with activities for the 85th Texas Legislature, we would like to recognize and congratulate all of our many amazing colleagues working in libraries across the nation.

To find out more about what we do, as well as the variety of resources we provide, we invite you to visit and explore our website. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, read our blog, or subscribe to one of the library's RSS feeds. We use these platforms to share useful information and resources related to Texas and the Texas Legislature.

We aim to provide the best tools and services available for Texas legislative research, and we are proud to continue serving members of the Texas Legislature, state agencies, and the public.


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.


National Library Week

This week is National Library Week. Across the U.S., libraries will be celebrating their role as valuable information service providers to the community.  As our way of celebrating, we've provided a little LRL history below. The LRL is proud to serve members of the Texas Legislature, state agencies, and the public.
The Legislative Reference Library's current location on the second floor of the State Capitol has been in continuous use as a library since 1889. Designated a library in the original architectural plans for the Capitol, the space was first occupied by the Texas Supreme Court Library, and later, in 1907, by the State Library, which in 1909 began offering "legislative reference and information" to the Legislature. In 1962, the State Library moved into its own building to the east of the Capitol, and in 1969, the Legislative Reference Library became an independent legislative agency.

The LRL continues to serve members of the Texas Legislature from its location in the north wing of the Capitol between the House and Senate chambers. As part of the 1990s Capitol renovation, the library was identified as a significant space within the Capitol for its historical and architectural importance, and was selected to receive an adaptive historical room treatment. The library is open to the public, so please drop by and visit us during National Library Week or any time you are in the area.


The State Library, c. 1915.
Photo courtesy of the Texas State Preservation Board.


LRL Celebrates National Library Week, April 14-20, 2013

In celebration of National Library Week last week, we invited you to participate in our second annual game of LRL Trivial Pursuit! Below are the answers found in the legislative and historical resources on our website, Pinterest site, Twitter feed, blog, and even one in the Library in the Capitol, Room 2N.3.  
Who was the youngest Texas State Senator?
Answer: Temple Lea Houston, born on August 12, 1860 during his father Sam Houston's last term as governor, has the distinction of being the youngest senator in the history of the Texas Legislature. He served in the 19th and 20th Legislatures, and first took the oath of office on January 13, 1885, when he was only 24 years old. No one challenged his qualifications, although Article III, § 6 of the Texas Constitution of 1876 required senators to be at least 26 years of age. [Image: State Preservation Board] Source: LRL Pinterest board, "Texas Tidbits," highlighting people and places in Texas history.
Temple Lea Houston
When was the First Irrigation Act passed in Texas?
Answer: March 19, 1889, SHB 298, 21st Legislature, Regular Session, An Act to encourage irrigation, and to provide for the acquisition of the rights to the use of water. The Act established the doctrine of prior appropriation; Section 2 of the Act declared all the unappropriated waters of every river or natural stream within the arid portion of the state to be the property of the public and may be acquired by appropriation through a "certified filing" with the County Clerk. Source: LRL Water Law Timeline, which chronicles significant Texas water legislation, court decisions, and state water plans, and highlights years of drought.  
Texas Purple Sage What is the Official State Native Shrub of Texas?
Answer: The Official State Native Shrub is the Texas Purple Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens). Designated by HCR 71, 79th R.S. (2005) authored by Rep. Dennis Bonnen and sponsored by Sen. Mike Jackson. [Image: Marcus, Joseph A., Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center] Source: LRL Pinterest board, "State Symbols," a complete list of over 60 state symbols of Texas, linked to the legislative resolutions that designated them.  
Fact or fiction: A Texas anticrime law requires criminals to give their victims 24 hours' notice, either orally or in writing, and to explain the nature of the crime to be committed.
Answer: FICTION. In 1973, Rep. James “Jim” Kaster (D-El Paso) filed HB 110, which proposed to make it a crime to commit a crime without providing at least 24 hours' notice to the intended victim. The bill did not pass and did not become law. You can read the proposed statute entitled "Failure to Warn Victim of Crime" in the LRL Legislative Archive System. Source: LRL's current exhibit in the Library, "Texas Laws: Fact or Fiction?"
Texas Laws: Fact or Fiction?
What is the best subject to search on Texas Legislature Online for bills on the use of dedicated funds?
Answer: State Finances--Management & Control (I0748). Source: LRL What's New blog, Bills in the News: Dedicated Funds, February 26, 2013. In our "Bills in the News" blog series during session, the library highlights legislative issues with suggestions on how to do bill searches, as well as related resources. You can search our blog by going to our home page, www.lrl.state.tx.us, and enter your search terms in the "site" search box.

National Library Week: Texas Trivia

National Library Week Logo
1. TRUE or FALSE: It is illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas.
BluebonnetsAnswer: FALSE, in most cases. The bluebonnet was first designated the state flower by the Legislature in 1901 as the Lupinus subcarnosus and in 1971 later expanded to include the Lupinus Texensis and any other variety of bluebonnet.
It is currently not illegal pick bluebonnets; however, statutes prohibiting criminal mischief or trespass may apply.
Under a 1933 law it was unlawful to pick any flowers upon enclosed land or land maintained by the State as a public park or preserve without specific permission. The law specifically mentions bluebonnets, Indian paint brushes, and other wildflowers under prohibitions against transporting, etc. or selling flowers which have had been gathered in violation of the Act. With the codification of the 1973 Penal Code the old statute was repealed.
2. What year was the first standardized test administered in Texas public schools and what was it called?
Answer: The first standardized test, the Texas Assessment of Basic Skills [TABS], was authorized by SB 350, 66th Legislature and administered in Texas schools in 1979. Education Code 39.023, Adoption and administration of instruments. See also Association of Texas Professional Educators [ATPE], "Texas Journey from TABS to TAKS," Fall 2005.
W.D. Crockett3. Which former House member from Washington County cast his first presidential vote for Grover Cleveland, was invited to attend the inaugural ball for Governor James S. Hogg, and was a relative of one of the writers of the Texas State Flower Song, "Bluebonnets"? [Hint: this one may require a field trip to Capitol Room 2N.3!]
Answer: William David Crockett, Member of the House of Representatives from Chappell Hill, Washington County in the 29th-31st Legislatures (1905-11) and Chair of the Appropriations Committee. In searching the LRL's members database, Texas Legislators: Past & Present, for home county: Washington County, Crockett's record includes a biographical sketch from A History of Texas and Texans (1916) noting his first presidential vote was for Grover Cleveland. The Governor's Inauguration Exhibit at the LRL in Capitol Room 2N.3 includes an 1891 invitation to Governor Hogg's inaugural ball sent to W.D. Crockett, and the state flower song, "Bluebonnets," by Julia D. Booth and Lora C. Crockett [sister-in-law of William David Crockett], was adopted by the Legislature in 1933 (Handbook of Texas Online). Listen to "Bluebonnets" performed by the LRL's own Donald Brower.
Memucan Hunt 4. There are two busts in the artwork collection on display in the LRL. One is Sam Houston, who is the other? [Hint: this one may require a field trip to Capitol Room 2N.3!]
Answer: The second bust is of Memucan Hunt, minister from the Republic to the U.S. to secure the recognition of the independence of Texas and Secretary of the Texas Navy, who later served in the House of Representatives of the 5th Legislature from Galveston.
5. When was the last time a Governor's veto was overridden by the Legislature?
Answer: May 15 & 17, 1979. In the 66th Legislature, Regular Session, the Legislature overrode Governor Bill Clements' veto of HB 2153, Relating to the approval of the Commissioners Court of Comal County of hunting and fishing regulations. See LRL Vetoes, List of Overridden Vetoes, House Journal Text, Senate Journal Text.

National Library Week: Texas Bill Captions

National Library Week LogoArticle III, Section 35 of the Texas Constitution requires bills to have titles, commonly called captions, intended to give the legislators and the public reasonable notice about the bill's subject. 

The Legislative Archive System includes captions for all bills from the 62nd Legislature (1961) through the 82nd Legislature (2011), as well as captions for all enrolled bills back to the 18th Legislature (1883). The Legislative Archive System can be used to search for bills by caption, and the captions can also be used to give some idea about the topics the Legislature was considering each session. 

For National Library Week, we have created a pair of word clouds using captions from enrolled bills for the 82nd Legislature:

Captions from the 82nd Legislature

Captions from the 18th Legislature

National Library Week: Legislative Word Search

National Library Week Logo

The legislative process has its own unique vocabulary. In celebration of National Library Week, have some fun with a Texas Legislative Terms word search.

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