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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.

July 31, 2014 list Print (PDF)

"The big dig." By Robert Grattan. Austin Business Journal, July 25, 2014, pp. 4-6
Presents competing philosophies about the Interstate 35 makeover and city transportation. Discusses plans offered by the Texas Department of Transportation and Reconnect Austin.
"The Marketplace Fairness Act." By Joseph Henchman. Background Paper (Tax Foundation), July 2014, pp. 1-23
Presents an overview of the Marketplace Fairness Act, pending in Congress, that would allow any state to require sales tax collection by out-of-state retailers. Includes discussion of the Quill physical presence rule, the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, and state "Amazon" tax laws, including a 2011 amendment to Texas Tax Code §151.107, expanding the definition of "retailer."
See: http://taxfoundation.org/sites/taxfoundation.org/f ...
Related information at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d113:s.743 ...
"The logistics of deporting 57,000 immigrant kids." By Esme Deprez. Bloomberg Businessweek, July 28-August 3, 2014, pp. 24-27
Examines the difficulties presented by the recent influx of tens of thousands of children, many from Central America, crossing the nation's southern border. Outlines ways officials are handling and housing the children.
"You mean I have to pay that back?" By Janet Lorin. Bloomberg Businessweek, July 21-27, 2014, pp. 38-39
Discusses how Indiana University, in response to an increase in student loan defaults, sent letters to student borrowers explaining the amount of the monthly payment required to repay their student loans. Points out that students were more likely to borrow less if they knew the cost to repay the loans.
"Gideon-evading machinations and the costs of defense." By Marissa Elkins. Champion, May 2014, pp. 45-46
Summarizes a recent National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers report on financial eligibility for indigent defense. Argues the use of federal poverty guidelines by the states to determine eligibility can be prone to manipulation in order to cut costs.
Report at: http://www.nacdl.org/gideonat50/
"Lessons learned from legislative victories in the Lone Star State." By Scott Ehlers. Champion, May 2014, pp. 47-49, 51-53
Examines recent criminal justice legislation in the 83rd Texas Legislature, Regular Session, including discovery reform in the Michael Morton Act (SB1611), public defender access to the state criminal history database (SB1044), excessive caseloads for public defenders and appointed counsel (HB1318), and junk science writ reform (SB344). Mentions Senators Rodney Ellis, Robert Duncan, and John Whitmire, and Representative Sylvester Turner.
"Sex offender: branded for life by the modern scarlet letters." By John Rhodes and Daniel Donovan. Champion, May 2014, pp. 14-21
Examines convicted sex offenders' rights on parole, probation, and supervised release, from a defense lawyer's perspective. Addresses related United States Sentencing Guidelines, federal law, and case law.
"Can math stop murder?" By Mark Guarino. Christian Science Monitor, July 21, 2014, pp. 27-32
Profiles a new procedure implemented by the Chicago police department using algorithms to control gun violence. Notes critics denounce it as profiling but police say they are using empirical analysis. Points out it is still too early to determine the effectiveness of this preventive policing practice. Reports that other municipalities are monitoring the results to determine if this new form of policing will work for their departments.
"When does 'speaking out' cross a line?" By Husna Haq. Christian Science Monitor, July 21, 2014, pp. 21-23
Considers controversial racial comments and the public's reaction. Presents comments from experts on free speech and protection of individual rights. Demonstrates the consequences of inflammatory speech using examples of celebrities who have made controversial racial or religious comments.
"LIFO lite? Teacher seniority might well survive the Vergara decision." By Larry Sand. City Journal (Manhattan Institute), July 25, 2014, pp. 1-2
Explains that, while California teacher tenure, seniority, and dismissal laws were recently struck down by Vergara v. California, a pending legal settlement reached in Reed v. State of California could preserve teacher seniority. Mentions that the American Civil Liberties Union won a settlement to protect students in underperforming schools from the effects of the "last in/first out" (LIFO) process, through which school district officials make layoff decisions without regard to teacher quality. Points out that Reed does not address LIFO — a process enforced by the teachers' union — and may not protect the most effective teachers from future budget-based layoffs.
See: http://www.city-journal.org/2014/cjc0725ls.html
Related information at: http://www.cta.org/~/media/Documents/Issues Actio ...
Related information at: https://www.aclusocal.org/reed/
"The other side of the border." By Philip Brasher. CQ Weekly, July 14, 2014, pp. 974-977
Examines why child migrants are fleeing their homelands for the United States. Suggests these children's countries of origin may be reluctant to stop the mass migration because remittances sent home are a significant economic benefit. Details President Obama's emergency funding request to Congress in response to the surge of child migrants.
"Drilling to the top." By Nicholas Sakelaris. Dallas Business Journal, July 25, 2014, pp. 4, 6-8
Discusses how local companies are capitalizing on the oil and gas boom. Lists the largest North Texas gas and oil producers in 2013.
"Notice to offenders: $100 health care fee." Echo: Texas Prison News, June 2014, pp. 1, 6
Summarizes the new Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy and fee for inmate health care services, pursuant to Texas Government Code §501.063. Mentions SB1, 82nd Legislature, 1st C.S.
Related information at: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/GV/htm/ ...
"Corporate tax in America: how to stop the inversion perversion." Economist, July 26th-August 1st, 2014, pp. 12, 14
Reports several companies' plans to move their corporate headquarters abroad, because of high corporate tax rates, have spurred proposed legislation to tighten rules on corporate tax avoidance through “inversion,” the practice of reincorporating offshore to avoid paying United States taxes. Explains America "has the rich world's most dysfunctional corporate-tax system" and points out two of the system's major flaws.
Related information at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr4679ih/pdf ...
"The death penalty in California: cruel and unusual." Economist, July 26th-August 1st, 2014, p. 26
Discusses a recent opinion by a California federal district court, Jones v. Chappell, which declared California's death penalty system unconstitutional. Describes the system as too slow and capricious, noting the unpredictable period of delay between conviction and execution.
Related information at: http://www.cacd.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/d ...
"Sun, wind and drain." Economist, July 26th-August 1st, 2014, p. 63
Highlights report that uses a cost-benefit analysis to rank various forms of energy. Finds that solar and wind power are the most expensive ways of reducing carbon emissions, while the most cost-effective, zero-emission technology is nuclear power.
Report at: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/pa ...
"Enrollment slump continues." By Karen Sloan. National Law Journal & Legal Times, July 21, 2014, pp. 1, 6
Reports the number of law school applicants to accredited law schools has fallen consistently — by more than 37 percent between 2010 and 2014. Notes additional enrollment declines could lead to transformative changes in the law school business model.
"Solutions for interstate groundwater allocation and the implications of Day." By Nathan Weinart. Texas Environmental Law Journal, May 2014, pp. 105-143 (Note Length)
Provides an overview of various water and groundwater legal systems across the United States. Focuses on the water systems in states adjoining Texas and issues specific to water that underlies multiple states. Examines the implications of the Texas Supreme Court's ruling in Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day on attempts to properly allocate interstate groundwater resources.
Related information at: https://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/ ...
"Obama's historic judge nominations." By John Council, Todd Ruger, and John Pacenti. Texas Lawyer, July 21, 2014, pp. 1, 19
Reports President Barack Obama's push to expand the racial, gender, sexual orientation, and experiential diversity of men and women who serve as United States district court judges will leave his imprint on the federal judiciary.
"Sex offender has standing to fight ordinance." By John Council. Texas Lawyer, July 28, 2014, pp. 1, 23
Reports on court opinion by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Aurelio Duarte v. City of Lewisville, which ruled that a sex offender and members of his family have standing to challenge a Lewisville ordinance that prohibits sex offenders from residing within 1,500 feet of "where children gather." Notes that the Duartes' extensive, unsuccessful attempts to rent or buy housing that complied with the ordinance and the ordinance's interference with their lives "in a concrete and personal way" figured into the court's decision to grant standing.
Related information at: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-5th-circuit/1673653. ...
"Surrogacy sanctuary; Surrogacy laws not as solid for same-sex parents." By Miriam Rozen. Texas Lawyer, July 21, 2014, pp. 1, 17
Reports Texas has favorable state laws for contractual agreements between gestational surrogates and "intended heterosexual married parents."
Related information at: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/FA/htm/ ...
"Is this the most dangerous man in Texas?" By Skip Hollandsworth. Texas Monthly, August 2014, pp. 80-81, 126-132
Provides insight into the background and character of University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall. Details Hall's investigations into the activities of university administrators and the Legislature's investigation into Hall's activities. Discusses the likelihood Hall will become the third person in the state's history to be impeached and removed from office.
"Rio Grande: river of strife." By Henry Chappell. Texas Wildlife, August 2014, pp. 30-32
Examines aspects of the Rio Grande, such as water disputes, agricultural concerns, and how the river ceases to flow in some areas along the border with Mexico.
"Rising flood insurance, sinking home values." By Ali Anari. Tierra Grande, July 2014, pp. 22-24
Discusses results of study conducted on the effect of higher flood insurance costs on home values in Texas. Reports an increase of $1.00 in homeowners' annual costs (tax, insurance, and maintenance) is expected to result in a $16.50 decrease in home value. Ranks metropolitan areas by housing costs.
See: http://recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/2068.pdf
"Whose water is it anyway?" By Judon Fambrough. Tierra Grande, July 2014, pp. 25-27
Addresses water ownership in Texas and landowners' rights relating to water located on or under their property. Reports Texas recognizes four locations or categories of water, two on the surface and two underground. Details water ownership and use laws by these four locations.
See: http://recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/2069.pdf