On June 19 ("Juneteenth"), 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order Number 3, which read, "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor."
Representative Al Edwards authored H.B. 1016, 66th R.S. (1979), declaring June 19th, Emancipation Day, an official Texas holiday. There has also been legislation both in other states and at the Federal level concerning Juneteenth. In 2016, a monument dedicated to African Americans in Texas was unveiled on the Texas Capitol grounds (cover image).The Juneteenth historical marker (right) was installed in Galveston on June 21, 2014.
Learn more about Juneteenth and the holiday's Texas origins in the Handbook of Texas Online.
According to Texas Election Code § 172.003, "to receive a political party's nomination, a candidate in a primary election must receive a majority of the total number of votes received by all the candidates for the nomination." Following the March 3 primary elections, several House and Senate districts require a primary runoff before their candidates can be selected for the November election. Per Texas Election Code § 2.025, "a runoff election shall be held not earlier than the 20th or later than the 45th day after the date the final canvass of the main election is completed." The runoff date had been set for May 26, but the governor postponed it until July 14.
Special elections may be called per the law set out in Texas Election Code § 3.003. However, they can be postponed as needed in a disaster, as will be the case for the Senate District 14 special election. That election had been set for May 2, but the governor postponed it until July 14. The governor also issued a proclamation that allows political subdivisions to postpone their elections until November.
On March 19, Commissioner John W. Hellerstedt, M.D., of the Texas Department of State Health Services, declared a state of public health disaster for the entire state of Texas. The authority to do so and explanation of what that means can be explored in the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Act, which is located in Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 81, Communicable Diseases. The legislation was enacted by SB 1064, 68R. A few years later, the Act was added to the Health and Safety Code as part of statutory revision. (Previously it was found in VACS Art. 4419b-1.)
Wondering where to find statutes regarding emergency management, in light of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and Governor Abbott's disaster proclamation? Texas Government Code Chapter 418 on emergency management was added to the statues with the Texas Disaster Act of 1975. In addition to setting out the governor's powers and duties in a disaster, the chapter also sets out guidelines for the Texas Division of Emergency Management, local emergency management, and addresses some financial aspects of disaster response. The Texas Disaster Act has been amended many times since 1975, including several bills from the 86th Legislature (2019) that added to and amended the chapter.
When looking for signed legislation, here are a few avenues of research to try:
If you know the bill number or session law chapter, and it's from the 82nd Legislature forward...
Use the Direct Search in the LRL's Legislative Archive System (LAS). For bills that passed, there will be a "signed legislation" link in the History tab. (If the bill passed but was filed without the governor's signature, there is still a "signed legislation" link. It will have signatures of the Chief Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate, but no governor's signature.)
If you know the topic of the bill, but not the citation...
LAS is a good starting point. You can use the Advanced Search to search by subject, author, session, committee, and other access points. You also can view a complete list of the bills passed in a session by navigating to Direct Search, selecting the legislature in the "search by session law chapter" option, and leaving the chapter box blank. This will give you the session's bill/chapter cross reference table, and you can peruse the bill captions to try and locate the number of the bill you seek. You can pull these tables all the way back to the 12th Legislature (1871)! Then, you can use one of the resources below to see if the signed legislation is available online:
- Secretary of State: Signed legislation from the 83rd–86th Legislatures is available on the Secretary of State's website. Links to bills and resolutions from these sessions can be accessed on our Signed Copies of Bills page. On the Secretary of State's page, you can select the type of legislation (house/senate bill, concurrent resolution, joint resolution) to filter the list and then review bill captions.
- The Portal to Texas History: Signed copies from the 78th–86th Legislatures are available in the Texas Laws and Resolutions Archive in The Portal to Texas History.
- Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC): You can access digitized copies of legislative bills and resolutions dated 1836–1884. These digitized records reflect the 1st–9th Congresses of the Republic of Texas and the 1st–18th Legislatures.
Signed bills older than the 78th Regular Session are in the Texas Secretary of State's Government Filings Section records at TSLAC. Please call 512-463-5455 for information on accessing physical copies of signed bills.
Do you need to track bills by code or find out how a particular bill would change the statutes? Check out the LRL's Index to Sections Affected (ISAf). Librarians already have indexed more than 2,300 bills this session, and they are continually entering data for the 86th Legislature as bills are received throughout the day.
Search features include:
- Search by the Code/Statute—e.g., Government Code, Ch. 824 (right)
- Search by Bill—find all the code sections affected by a bill (especially helpful when looking at a Sunset bill or a large omnibus bill)
- Limit search results by bill type (House or Senate, bill or resolution) and/or version (introduced, house and senate committee reports, engrossed, enrolled, vetoed, or any)
- Link to the current statutes in your search results
ISAf additionally is helpful to determine the status of the law after a session has concluded and before the online statutes have been updated.
Also, you can subscribe to ISAf to receive updates in an RSS feed.
With Senate and House committees appointed and meetings underway, do you need to know more about a certain committee? The Library has many helpful resources in the Committees section of our website. You can...
- Search for committees by member name or committee member name.
- Explore interim reports and other legislative reports published by legislative committees, back to the 1st legislative session.
- Search for legislative committee minutes and related documents for the 63rd-77th Legislatures. (Minutes from the 78th-85th Legislatures can also be searched here; they are available through Texas Legislature Online.)
- Review standing committee appointment lists sorted by committee back to 1991.
Scanned committee minutes have been linked to bills in the Legislative Archive System (LAS) for the 63rd–77th Legislatures (1973–2001).
If we have committee minutes for a bill in that time period, there will be a "Committee information" tab in the bill's LAS record, and you can see links to committee minutes at the bottom of the History tab view.
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
- 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
- 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.
It's primary election day! Texas Election Code § 41.007 sets the general primary election date as "the first Tuesday in March in each even-numbered year," which makes Texas the first state to hold its primary this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
To learn more about topics the legislature has discussed pertaining to elections over the years, you can use our Legislative Reports page, enter "election" in the subject field, then click "search." Then, you can drill down to more specific topic(s) and click "view reports" to explore committee member lists, reports, minutes, and related documents.
Cover image by Flickr user Jon Wiley.