| Home | General Information | Staff | Bill Analysis | SRC Publications | TxAccess |

House Interim Committee on State, Federal, and International Relations

Charge

Study how the legislature can encourage the development of a comprehensive plan for coordinating and integrating networking and resource sharing for all types of libraries.

Background

Texas has vast information resources in its 500 public libraries, 200 academic libraries in colleges and universities, and 6,000 school libraries. Texas librarians have a vision for the future: a "virtual" library that will vastly expand all of the information, collections, and human resources of every library in the state. Although it is technically feasible to network Texas libraries and, in effect, give equitable access to information to every citizen, it will not be an easy or a quick thing to do. The number of libraries in the state and the variety of governing and funding agencies supporting them make the establishment of a truly comprehensive system of library resource sharing a daunting task. Texas libraries, under the oversight of three separate state agencies, have made great strides towards the improvement of networking and resource sharing through three separate programs: TexShare, Texas State Electronic Library, and Texas Library Connection.

Recommendations

  • Combine the three separate resource-sharing programs so that the users of any type of library will have access to the entire range of information resources in all the other libraries of the state.

  • As a pilot project, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission should negotiate access to one or more electronic information resources for all libraries in Texas.

    Charge

    Review the standards governing eligibility for burial in the Texas State Cemetery.

    Background

    The Texas State Cemetery was established in 1851 with the death of Texas patriot Edward Burleson. Burleson's stature as a founding father and military hero prompted a joint committee of the legislature to acquire an 18-acre tract for a state cemetery. For much of its history, the cemetery was not guided by specific laws concerning burial eligibility. Graves often were indicated with temporary markers; some were not marked until a number of years after interment. Over the years, criteria for eligibility for burial in the cemetery gradually evolved. The 74th Legislature amended the criteria for burial eligibility, narrowing some categories and broadening others.

    Recommendations

  • Create a State Cemetery Committee to oversee all operations of the cemetery.

  • The State Cemetery Committee should actively pursue plot reservations and reinterments for any Texans who have made significant contributions to Texas history and culture.

    Charge

    Study a simplified procedure for listing on the State Register of Historic Places; assess whether simpler procedures are desirable.

    Background

    An important function of the Texas Historical Commission is to help protect and preserve the state's historic structures and archeological sites. To encourage preservation, the agency grants special designations to properties of historic significance. These designations generally place restrictions on significant changes to the property and can also be used to qualify property owners for local property tax exemptions and federal income tax exemptions.

    The agency currently uses four types of designations for historic properties in the state: State Archeological Landmarks, State Historical Markers, National Register of Historic Places, and Historic County Courthouses.

    Recommendations

  • The Texas Historical Commission should develop a single State Register of Historic Places which encompasses all existing designations.

  • The commission should continue to seek public input as inconsistencies and gaps in state preservation policies are identified and eliminated.

    Charge

    Study the feasibility of constructing and operating a motion picture backlot or soundstage facility in Texas.

    Background

    Compared with some other states, notably Florida and North Carolina, Texas is critically short of state-of-the-art soundstages. At times, Texas loses business to other states because soundstage needs cannot be met within the relatively short time frame required by film makers. Because the shooting of feature films and television movies is seasonal, a certain amount of excess soundstage capacity is required to meet production requirements during peak periods. By one estimate, Texas needs another three soundstages totaling 50,000 square feet just to keep up with the anticipated growth of demand over the next few years.

    Another inhibitor to expansion of filmmaking in Texas is the absence of a backlot. Texas has plains, mountains, beaches, small towns, swamps, and modern cities. But Texas does not have a subway station, a New Orleans French Quarter street, a row of Brooklyn brownstones, or a London mews. Construction of a backlot would cost between $7 and $10 million.

    Recommendations

  • Consider developing a public/private matching funds partnership for economic development to encourage one or more localities to construct a studio backlot or soundstage facility.

  • Pursue various other incentive programs to increase the amount of film industry business coming to all parts of the state.