Today is day 77 of the 86th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature and this is a big week for several items that impact TSLAC and libraries, archives, and records programs across the state.
Concerning our budget, so far the House budget contains a number of items in our legislative appropriations request, including funding to allow the agency to continue to store records on contract for other state and local agencies. Without that funding, TSLAC will be out of storage space by the end of 2019. The House budget also includes funding requested for cybersecurity upgrades to safeguard online resources and personally identifiable information. We were also very happy to see the House adopt our recommendation for targeted salary increases to allow us to remain competitive in recruitment and retention of qualified staff to discharge our core mandates.
So far, the Senate budget includes none of these items, however, this Thursday, the Senate Finance committee will be hearing recommendations from their budget subcommittees, so we will see if any of our requested items are adopted. If not, the resolution of our request will be up to the budget conference committee that will be created in a few weeks.
Our Sunset bill progresses. We anticipate a committee vote on HB 1962 by Rep. Lambert in tomorrow’s meeting of the House Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism. We are anticipating a committee substitute that will ensure that our agency is able to continue to monitor and assist local governments in the management of their public records.
Also this week, several bills that we have been following are coming up for consideration in committee. Today, the House State Affairs Committee is taking up three bills related to broadband policy in Texas. HB 1960 by Rep. Price would create a statewide broadband council in the Governor’s Office, which I and others have often stated would be a great advance for the future of broadband development in Texas. Interestingly, HB 2423 by Rep. Anderson has recommended the creation of a broadband office at the Public Utility Commission so it will be interesting to see how the committee resolves these two bills. HB 2422 also by Rep. Anderson would implement a “one-dig” policy in Texas to facilitate broadband deployment with other utility development.
We look forward to updating everyone as the session continues. For those of you who are going to the Texas Library Association Annual Conference this year, we hope you will join us for our program updating you on the session in progress on Wednesday, April 17, 9:45 to 10:45. We should have plenty more to report by then!