BILL ANALYSIS H.B. 2540 By: Jones 4-26-95 Committee Report (Unamended) BACKGROUND The state and federal governments have placed a priority on providing government related information to the public. Federal agencies, through Congressional intent, are required to allow public access to specific government information. Technology advances offer less costly and more effective techniques to disseminate electronic information, resulting in a significant increase in the number of people and organizations that can utilize information in electronic format (Internet). The increased recognition of the value of current information to the individual recipients and to the state and federal governments has led to a growing demand on the part of the public to exercise their right to such access. A major building block to reaching this goal is the availability of online access to Internet. A solution to this problem would be to provide public access, with government assistance, to an Internet terminal through public libraries. Currently, public libraries and the State Library are connected to a statewide telecommunications network (THEnet), which is part of a federally-sponsored international network that allows access to national and foreign library holdings and other information. Only about 15 of the largest public libraries, however, have access to this form of electronic database, according to the Texas Department of Information Resources. While networked systems are few, about two-thirds of the population of the state is served by public libraries with integrated automated library systems. Therefore the physical infrastructure for the delivery of information is already in place for the majority of the population of the state. PURPOSE House Bill 2540 would allow the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to provide public information technology grants to help public libraries make state, local, and federal government information available for public access through the Internet or electronic bulletin board system. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1: Amends Section 441.135(b) of the Government Code by amending Subsections (b)(3) and (b)(4) and adding Subsection (b)(5) as follows: (b)(3) deletes the word "and"; (b)(4) adds the word "and"; (b)(5) permits the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to make available to public libraries a "public information technology grant" which may be used to assist the libraries in providing to the public state, local, and federal government information that is accessible through the Internet or electronic bulletin board system through computer terminals. SECTION 2: Effective date. SECTION 3: Emergency Clause. SUMMARY OF COMMITTEE ACTION HB 2540 was considered by the House Committee on State, Federal, and International Relations in a public hearing on 26 April 1995. The following person testified in favor of the bill: Ms. Elizabeth Crabb Texas Library Association The following person testified neutrally on the bill: Ms. Lisa deGruyter Texas State Library and Archives The bill was reported favorably without amendment with the recommendation that it do pass and be printed and be sent to the Committee on Local and Consent Calendars, by a record vote of 6 ayes, 0 nays, 0 pnv and 3 absent.