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Current Articles

The Legislative Reference Library produces a weekly list of current journal articles for members of the legislative community. Each week, librarians select and abstract articles of interest to the legislature from the latest issues of over 300 journals, newsletters, state documents, and trade publications. Electronic copies of the Current Articles list are distributed to legislative offices each Friday.

The Legislative Reference Library is located on the second floor of the State Capitol building in Room 2N.3. For more information, please call the Library at 512 463-1252.

August 17, 2017 list Print (PDF)

"The debate over drone IDs." Bloomberg Businessweek, August 14, 2017, pp. 36-37
Discusses the regulatory climate surrounding drones for commercial and private use. Explains that law enforcement agencies want radio tracking devices on civilian drones.
"Nursing interventions at the start of life: laying the foundation for lasting health and well-being." By Rachel Brand. Charting Nursing's Future, June 2017, pp. 1-8
Describes nursing interventions with pregnant women, babies, and very young children that improve children's prospects for a lifetime of health. Notes that while these programs call for upfront investment, they demonstrate significant savings over the long term by offsetting health, educational, or juvenile justice costs incurred in later years. Sets out seven steps leaders can take to bring such programs to scale.
See: http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue ...
"Tipping point for investigations?" By Peter Grier and Story Hinckley. Christian Science Monitor, August 14, 2017, pp. 18-20
Reviews the history of Congressional investigations from the 1792 inquiry into a disastrous military campaign to the current probes into potential Russian interference with elections. Suggests there are differences in current day investigations in terms of more partisanship and the fact that Congress is now just one actor in a larger investigative culture including special prosecutors and the media.
"Attitudes to immigration: still yearning." Economist, August 12th-18th, 2017, pp. 19-20
Comments on proposed federal legislation, the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act [RAISE Act]. Explains the RAISE Act would eliminate the green card lottery, establish a skills-based points system similar to systems used in Canada and Australia, retain family preferences for spouses and dependent children of United States citizens, and reduce the number of refugees admitted each year. Notes the bill would reduce immigration to levels last seen in 1964. Includes public poll results on the proposed changes.
Related information at: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/s354/BILLS-115s ...
"College admissions: after affirmative action." Economist, August 12th-18th, 2017, pp. 20-21
Considers what would happen if affirmative action policies were abolished, using as examples the results in the eight states that have already banned race-conscious admissions.
Report at: https://clevelandfed.org/en/newsroom-and-events/pu ...
"Nuclear energy: putting to sea." Economist, August 12th-18th, 2017, pp. 63-64
Presents the advantages of siting nuclear power plants in the ocean rather than on land — either floating on the surface or moored beneath it.
"The 2017 EdNext Poll on School Reform" By Martin R. West, et al. Education Next, Winter 2018, pp. 1-20
Investigates current attitudes toward major issues in K–12 education. Covers several topics including: school choice, Common Core, Federalism, teacher performance, the Trump effect, immigration and English-only instruction, technology, religious afterschool clubs, and parents’ aspirations for their children’s higher education. Breaks down responses by political party.
See: http://educationnext.org/2017-ednext-poll-school-r ...
"Does attending a charter school reduce the likelihood of being placed into special education? Evidence from Denver, Colorado." By Marcus A. Winters, Dick M. Carpenter II, and Grant Clayton. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, September 2017, pp. 448-463
Examines whether attending a charter school affects the probability of students being classified as having a specific learning disability [SDL] in elementary grades. Finds attending charter schools in Denver significantly decreases the likelihood that a student is placed into special education with a SDL disorder but has little impact on whether a student is classified as autistic or having a language or speech disorder. Discusses policy implications.
"Vouchers in the bayou: the effects of the Louisiana scholarship program on student achievement after 2 years." By Jonathan N. Mills and Patrick J. Wolf. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, September 2017, pp. 464-484
Examines the effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program [LSP], which offers private school vouchers to low- to moderate-income students in underperforming public schools, on student achievement after the pilot program was expanded statewide in 2012. Reports the LSP scholarships have had a negative impact on mathematics and English Language Arts achievement. Offers several explanations as to why this study's results differ so dramatically from other school voucher studies.
"Finding the sweet spot." By Katie Fletcher. Ethanol Today, July/August 2017, pp. 8-15
Reports that as the ethanol industry progresses, producers have increased production and profits, and have also focused on ways to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Questions whether producers can really make money by focusing on low-carbon production pathways, even if the markets can sufficiently serve expanding ethanol production. Considers different factors including incentivizing cutting carbon at the state level, implementing an investment decision model, and the case for combined heat and power, and carbon capture and storage.
"It's all in the numbers." Ethanol Today, July/August 2017, pp. 16-19
Provides a decade's worth of industry data, courtesy of the CPA and consulting firm Christianson PLLP, to demonstrate how ethanol producers have increased efficiencies while decreasing their carbon footprint.
"Paid family leave and sick days in the U.S.: findings from the 2016 Kaiser/HRET employer health benefits survey." By Nisha Kurani, et al. Internet Resource, July 2017, pp. 1-6
Summarizes state and local policies on paid family leave and sick days, along with new data on the share of firms that offer paid parental leave and paid sick days benefits. Notes that, unlike most other developed nations, the United States does not have national standards on paid family or sick leave. Reports that 33 percent of firms offer paid parental leave benefits; 68 percent offer paid sick days to full-time workers; and 25 percent offer paid sick days to part-time workers.
See: http://files.kff.org/attachment/Data-Note-Paid-Fam ...
"Can patients make recordings of medical encounters?" By Glyn Elwyn, Paul James Barr, and Mary Castaldo. JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), August 8, 2017, pp. 515-516
Evaluates the legality of patients recording medical encounters. Notes that 39 states (of which Texas is one) conform to the single-party consent rule, meaning a person can record a conversation or clinical encounter without the clinician's consent. Advises that clinicians, patient advocacy groups, and policy makers work together to develop guidelines on patient recording, and that they embrace the value of recording clinical encounters.
"Maintenance of certification and Texas SB 1148: a threat to professional self-regulation." JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), August 7, 2017, pp. 1-4
Asserts that while critics claim there is no evidence that maintenance of certification [MOC] makes any difference in clinical care, some peer-reviewed literature refutes that claim. Argues that SB1148, 85th Legislature, R.S., weakens the medical profession's claim to self-regulation by allowing government intervention into medical practice that may eventually lead to intervention in other areas.
See: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2 ...
"Rising medical costs mean more rough times ahead." By David M. Cutler. JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), August 8, 2017, pp. 508-509
Describes tactics that might be used to address rising medical costs. Discusses cutting pharmaceutical, physician, and hospital prices; high deductible health plans (increasing the amount people pay to access care); and bundled value-based payments. Notes that the closest thing to ideal policy is prevention.
"States of resistance: Democratic AGs v. Trump." By Cogan Schneier. National Law Journal, August 2017, pp. 20-23
Comments on the growing partisanship among state attorneys general [AGs]. Points out how Democratic AGs are uniting to counter regulatory rollbacks pushed by the Trump administration in the areas of health care, consumer protection, education, and immigration.
"The thorny path of med mal tort reform." By Amanda Bronstad. National Law Journal, August 2017, pp. 37-38
Reports concerns among some plaintiffs' attorneys over a tort reform bill passed by the United States House of Representatives, the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017. Explains the bill would limit noneconomic damages across the nation, affecting eighteen states that have no caps on noneconomic damages. Notes the bill would impose a federal statute of limitations, limit attorney fees, and possibly "eviscerate" certain cases against medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Related information at: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hr1215/BILLS-11 ...
"The Republican civil war in Texas." By Kevin D. Williamson. National Review, August 14, 2017, pp. 17-19
Compares the situation of the Republican Party at the federal level with that of Texas. Describes the inability to successfully pass certain legislation and contrasts the two Republican camps as "the talk-radio gang vs. the Chamber of Commerce gang".
"Simplify the law." By Benjamin H. Barton and Stephanos Bibas. National Review, August 14, 2017, pp. 20-21
Argues there is a need to triage the legal system, focusing indigent funding for defense attorneys on felony cases and providing these attorneys with reasonable workloads, compensation, and support. Advocates simpler, cheaper alternatives for misdemeanor cases that don't call for a "free" lawyer but instead offer simpler ways to try cases. Highlights the arguments in the authors' book Rebooting Justice for getting away from the "'more lawyers, more justice' creed."
"Technology advances: prepare before using Internet-based computing options." By Bob George. Opflow, August 2017, pp. 10-15
Argues that Internet-based technologies will allow utilities to inexpensively add large numbers and data sources to the information they already collect, but at the cost of potentially introducing substantial new risks. Summarizes these technologies and explores how they might affect conventional network planning in the near future.
"SA businesses take on anti-sanctuary city law." By Tony Quesada. San Antonio Business Journal, August 4. 2017, p. 3
Explains how the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has joined the Texas Together campaign, by the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance, to support the repeal of SB4, 85th Legislature, R.S. Highlights the efforts of Texas businesses to take a stand against SB4 and the law's possible economic effects on the state.
"The stem cell skeptic." By Kelly Servick. Science, August 4, 2017, pp. 441-443
Discusses the work of stem cell scientist Paul Knoepfler and how his blog has drawn followers both curious about and averse to stem cell treatments and therapies.
"Supposedly symbolic, state travel bans have real bite." By Rebecca Beitsch. Stateline (Pew Charitable Trusts), August 15, 2017, pp. 1-6
Explains the stigma associated with state travel bans goes beyond government travel — the bans scare away visitors who are not state employees or who live in other states and cost affected states millions in canceled conventions, hotel bookings, and other tax revenue. Lists current LGBT travel bans, noting several states ban travel to Mississippi and North Carolina.
See: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/ ...
"'It changes their lives': how can Texas physicians help improve the state's organ donation system?" Texas Medicine, August 2017, pp. 47-54
Describes the challenges of the current organ donation system in meeting the demand for organ transplants. Notes that on average, about 1,400 to 1,500 people in Texas are removed from waitlists each year because they die or are too sick to receive an organ. Points out other countries improved organ donation rates using opt-out or presumed consent systems, as was proposed by HB1938, 85th Legislature, R.S.
See: https://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=45335
"Shopping for Medicaid savings? Leave some items on the shelf." By Lawrence O'Brien. Texas Medicine, August 2017, pp. 11-13
Lists ways to reduce costs and prioritize health care spending in Texas to make the Medicaid block grant model work. Suggests prescribing generic drugs, avoiding whole genome sequencing tests, curbing abuse of pediatric therapy, rethinking organ transplants, and other tactics. Agrees with assertion that a health care system cannot be simultaneously universal, comprehensive, and affordable.