Representative Sylvester Turner records

Texas Legislature, House of Representatives:

An Inventory of Representative Sylvester Turner Records at the Texas State Archives, 1974, 1981-2015, undated, bulk 2005-2015

 

Organization History Biographical Information Scope and Contents Restrictions Related Materials

turnerOverview

Creator: Texas. Legislature. House of Representatives.
Title: Representative Sylvester Turner records
Dates: 1974, 1981-2015, undated
Dates: bulk 2005-2015
Abstract: The Texas House of Representatives is one arm of the Legislature of the State of Texas (the other being the Texas Senate), which the Texas Constitution (Article III, Section I) vests with all legislative power of the state. Representative Sylvester Turner’s records document his representation of House District 139 (1989-2015) through his legislative activities, constituent casework, and general office operations. Records include correspondence, bill files (including drafts, amendments, and analyses), witness and contact lists, presentations, reports, transcripts, talking points, speeches, meeting minutes and agenda, memorandums, digital images, charts and spreadsheets, labels, news clippings, press releases, and other background materials. Records date 1974, 1981-2015, undated, bulk 2005-2015. Subjects include utilities affordability and accessibility, the criminal justice system, programs aimed at providing emotional and financial support for crime victims, administration and appropriation of funds for government agencies and programs, education funding and structure, consumer protection, healthcare, natural disaster recovery, transportation needs and projects, factors specifically affecting the African-American community, workforce issues, elections in regard to voter identification laws and polling place accessibility, and issues affecting northwest Houston neighborhoods. Records are electronic as well as paper.
Quantity: 10 cubic ft. and 2.12 GB (4,041 files)
Language: These materials are written predominately in English with scattered Spanish throughout.
Repository: Texas State Archives
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Other Finding Aids

A description of non-electronic records referenced in this finding aid are available at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/40130/tsl-40130.html.


Organization of the Records

The records are organized into five series:


Agency History

The Texas House of Representatives is one arm of the Legislature of the State of Texas (the other being the Texas Senate), which the Texas Constitution (Article III, Section 1) vests with all legislative power of the state. The primary legislative power is enacting laws, and the most visible function of the legislature is to make public policy through drafting, considering, and passing bills and resolutions. Biennially, the House of Representatives elects a speaker from its membership to serve as its presiding officer. The House of Representatives consists of 150 representatives elected in even-numbered years for two-year terms. A representative must be at least 21 years old, a qualified voter, and a resident of Texas for at least two years and of the district represented for at least one year immediately preceding election.

In addition to legislative powers, the legislature exercises other types of authority. Constituent powers include the ability to alter the state constitution, and the members’ authority to exercise powers of attorney in behalf of their constituents. Directory and supervisory powers allow the legislature to regulate the state’s administrative machinery, made up of boards, commissions, and departments that conduct the affairs of state. The legislature establishes and funds these bodies and defines their functions. Executive powers of each house include selection of legislative officers, employees, and chairs and members of committees. Investigative powers are exercised through the formation of standing, special, interim, and joint committees to study an issue. House committees are usually charged with a particular purpose by the speaker, although this may also be accomplished by a resolution adopted by the house. Each legislative house holds judicial powers over its members, including punishing or expelling members for cause. (Click here to read more about the House of Representatives agency history)


Biographical Sketch

Sylvester Turner, born on September 27, 1954, grew up in the Acres Homes community within northwest Houston. He began his political career as student body president at Klein High School. While working on his bachelor of arts in political science at the University of Houston, Turner served as the speaker of the student senate. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Turner obtained his jurisprudence degree from Harvard University. After graduation, he joined the law firm of Fulbright and Jaworski. In 1983, Turner founded his own law firm of Barnes and Turner. In 1984, Turner unsuccessfully ran for the position of Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 1.

In 1988, Turner was elected to the Texas House of Representatives for District 139 (encompassing parts of Harris County). Turner’s notable committee service includes the House State Affairs Committee (1993-2002 and 2009-2015 as a member, 1995-2002 as vice chair); Appropriations Committee (1995-2008 and 2011-2015 as a member, 2011-2015 as vice chair); Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal Justice (2003-2007 as a member and chair); Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government, the Judiciary, and Criminal Justice and Public Safety (2013-2015 as a member and chair); House Select Committee on Hurricane Ike Storm Devastation to the Texas Gulf Coast (2007 as a member and chair); House Regulated Industries Committee (2003-2007 as a member); Budget and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Regulated Industries Committee (2003-2007 as a member and chair); House Select Committee on Electric Generation Capacity and Environmental Effects (2007 as a member); House Select Committee on the Operation and Management of the Texas Youth Commission (2007 as a member); and as House Speaker Pro Tem (2003-2009). As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Turner pushed for the creation of the Texas Digital Archive, a program of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission that facilitates access to the electronic records, funded through House Bill 1 (84th Texas Legislature, Regular Session). This appropriations bill also funded three positions devoted to the project and dedicated monies for electronic records storage costs. From 2006 to 2015, Turner was a member of the Legislative Budget Board. Additionally, he served as chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.

As a representative, Turner took an interest in the criminal justice system (both juvenile and adult justice), children’s health, utility affordability, access to health care, consumer rights, housing options and barriers, education funding and reform, government appropriations, issues affecting the African-American community, and neighborhood issues (including development, crime, events, and disaster recovery). Turner has served as an adjunct professor at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston as well as a lecturer at the South Texas College of Law and University of Houston Law School.

Turner unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Houston in 1991 and 2003. In late 2015, Turner was elected mayor of Houston. Turner subsequently resigned as a state representative, effective January 1, 2016.

(Sources include: Legislative Reference Library of Texas website (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/index.cfm); Texas House District 139 website during Turner’s term (http://web.archive.org/web/20151223231737/http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=139); Turner’s campaign for mayor website (http://www.sylvesterturner.com/where-sylvester-turner-came-from/); Polo Rocha, “State Launching Digital Archive for Government Files”, Texas Weekly, (published June 25, 2015); all accessed December 5, 2016 and the records themselves.)


Scope and Content of the Records

The Texas House of Representatives is one arm of the Legislature of the State of Texas (the other being the Texas Senate), which the Texas Constitution (Article III, Section I) vests with all legislative power of the state. Representative Sylvester Turner’s records document his representation of House District 139 (1989-2015), which encompasses part of the city of Houston, through his legislative activities, constituent casework, and general office operations. Records include correspondence, bill analyses, bill files and amendments, witness and contact lists, presentations, reports, transcripts, talking points, speeches, meeting minutes and agenda, memorandums, digital images, charts and spreadsheets, labels, news clippings, press releases, and other background materials. Records date from 1974, 1981-2015, undated, bulk 2005-2015. Subjects include utilities affordability and accessibility, especially in regard to electricity and water; the criminal justice system particularly the operation of private and government justice centers, conditions for offenders and officers, legal rights of offenders, and oversight of the state’s justice agencies (including the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and its predecessor the Texas Youth Commission); confidentiality of juvenile offender records; programs aimed at providing emotional and financial support for crime victims; the state’s judiciary process; programs for low-income persons; funding and administration of government agencies and programs; education funding and structure; tax issues, notably relief or property value assessment; consumer protection, especially in regards to financial issues; healthcare for children and senior citizens; mental health programs both in medical facilities and in the community; abortion; human trafficking; natural disaster recovery; transportation needs and projects; factors specifically affecting the African-American community; barriers for persons with disabilities; workforce issues; elections as it relates to voter identification laws and polling place accessibility; and issues affecting northwest Houston neighborhoods, especially regarding crime, recreation and infrastructural development, and community events. Records are electronic as well as paper.

Committee and council membership reflected in the records include the House State Affairs Committee; House Appropriations Committee; House Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal Justice; House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government, the Judiciary, and Criminal Justice and Public Safety; House Select Committee on Hurricane Ike Storm Devastation to the Texas Gulf Coast; House Regulated Industries Committee; House Select Committee on Electric Generation Capacity and Environmental Effects; House Select Committee on the Operation and Management of the Texas Youth Commission; Texas Legislative Black Caucus; and Texas Legislative Budget Board. The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition is heavily reflected in the records with policy position papers, reports, and correspondence. The work of Turner’s staff members and interns are represented in the records. These persons include Alison Brock (first as a legislative aide in 2005 and then as chief of staff afterward), Will Seilheimer (a legislative aide from 2005-2007), Matthew Cherry (an intern in 2013), Dominique Calhoun (a legal intern in 2015), and Emma Oliver (an intern in 2015).

A number of the records did not have folder titles (if foldered at all). These are identified as uncategorized with the exception of a handful of paper correspondence regarding offenders in state custody. The latter are listed as offender issues. Some folder titles for electronic records are condensed. Duplicate files may exist.

Representative Turner’s Bill files, 2005-2015, highlight legislation Turner authored, sponsored, or was interested in from the 79th (2005) to 84th (2015) legislative sessions. Subject files series, 1991-2015, undated, bulk 2007-2015, document topics of interest to Turner or his staff. This background information may have been used for future legislation, as research for work on committees or councils, or for constituent casework. Turner’s Committee and council membership records, 2005-2015, reflect his work on House committee and legislative councils. Correspondence and constituent casework, 1974, 1981-2015, undated, illustrates communications between the legislator and his constituents as well as with other state officials. The General office files series, 1989-2015, bulk 2005-2015, relate to the general operation of his legislative office and reflect the representative’s achievements during specific legislative sessions, his public relations strategy, and the internship selection process.


Restrictions and Requirements

Restrictions on Access
Because of the possibility that portions of these records fall under Public Information Act exceptions including, but not limited to, certain email addresses (Texas Government Code, Section 552.137); home addresses and home phone numbers of government officials (Texas Government Code, Section 552.117); account numbers (Texas Government Code, Section 552.136); common-law privacy (Texas Government Code, Section 552.101); confidential information provided for legislative purposes (Texas Government Code, Section 552.008); names, home addresses, and other identifying information of juvenile offenders in facilities operated by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department or its predecessors (Texas Family Code, Section 58.005); confidentiality of certain personal information of peace officers, county jailers, security officers, employees of certain criminal or juvenile justice agencies or offices, and federal and state judges (Texas Government Code, Section 552.1175); attorney-client privilege, agency memoranda, or work product (Texas Government Code, Section 552.107 or 111), driver’s license numbers (Texas Government Code, Section 552.130); information regarding patients at a mental health facility (Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 576.005); information regarding jurors and potential jurors (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 35.29); medical records (Texas Occupations Code, Section 159.002(d)); and social security numbers (Texas Government Code, Section 552.147), an archivist must review these records before they can be accessed for research. The records may be requested for research under the provisions of the Public Information Act (Texas Government Code, Chapter 552).

In accordance with Texas Government Code, Chapters 306 and 323, Sylvester Turner allowed public access to the communications between himself and citizens/representatives of the state of Texas and with the Texas Legislative Council as of January 2, 2016.

Records series described in this finding aid have access restrictions specific to them, which are included in the series-level description.

Types of restricted information as listed above apply to paper and electronic records. Some electronic records will not be available through our portal due to such restrictions.

Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).


The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Texas State Archives
Houston-Galveston Area Council records, 1974-1997, 2001-2005, 1.66 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid for these unprocessed records. Call numbers are 1998/221-1 and 2, 2006/237, 2011/080, 2011/272, and 2015/194.]
Representative Dalton Smith records, 1988-1994, 26 cubic ft. [Restricted]
Representative Warren Chisum records, 1989-2012, undated, 4 cubic ft. and 211 MB (4,033 files) [Restricted]
Texas Public Utilities Commission meeting files, 1975-2012, 120.46 cubic ft.
Texas. Legislature. House of Representatives. Appropriations Committee, 1983-1992, 22 cubic ft. [Restricted] [There is no finding aid for these unprocessed records. Call numbers are 2012/247-1 thru 22.]
Texas. Department of Criminal Justice minutes and meeting files, 1881-1885, 1900-2016, 28.25 cubic ft.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation
(Identify the item and cite the series), Representative Sylvester Turner records, Texas House of Representatives. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information
Accession number: 2016/075

These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by Representative Sylvester Turner’s office on January 5, 11, and 14, 2016.

Processing Information
Processed by Anna M. Reznik, December 2016