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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.

June 22, 2017 list Print (PDF)

"Galvanize CEO: tech sector faces 'perfect storm' due to Trump." By Jim Deters. Austin Business Journal, June 16, 2017, p. A27
Discusses President Trump's overhaul of the H-1B visa program, which aims to place more American workers in tech jobs currently going to non-United States citizens. Suggests the crackdown on foreign tech talent, the technology skills gap, and the Digital Revolution are contributing to a "perfect storm" for CEOs of American-based companies who want the best, most highly-trained talent for their workforce.
Related information at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/0 ...
"Why lawmakers' tough talk about eliminating the franchise tax fell on deaf ears." By Kimberly Reeves. Austin Business Journal, June 16, 2017, p. A19
Examines why the 85th Legislature was unable to pass a franchise tax relief bill, noting the two versions offered — SB17 and HB28. Includes comments by Representative Jim Murphy and Senator Van Taylor.
"Medicaid per capita cap would disproportionately harm some states: permanently locks in variation in state Medicaid funding." By Hannah Katch. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 15, 2017, pp. 1-15
Notes Texas would be disproportionately harmed by a Medicaid per capita cap in the American Health Care Act, due to its low eligibility limit for parents. Notes the annual financial strain of a per capita cap could prevent states from increasing eligibility beyond 2016 levels. Includes fifty-state charts on per beneficiary Medicaid spending for seniors, people with disabilities, and children, and growth in Medicaid per beneficiary spending.
See: http://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/file ...
"Public transit — but with private money." By Simon Montlake. Christian Science Monitor, June 5, 2017, pp. 21-23
Examines the new QLINE, Detroit's first streetcar service since the 1950s and a project spearheaded by nonprofits. Presents the question of whether philanthropy can and should play a role in solving big-city infrastructure problems. Explains the role of foundations can be viewed as "scaffolding" that can hold a project together until the public sector can resume its traditional role.
"Would a 'basic income' for all build or erode character?" Christian Science Monitor, June 12, 2017, p. 32
Highlights experimental programs by various governments around the world to institute a universal basic income which would provide a minimum floor of financial security to all. Examines the popularity of this concept for both conservatives and liberals and how the question of character comes into play with this type of plan.
"Illegal drugs: life or meth." Economist, June 17th-23rd, 2017, p. 29
Reports that 71 percent of law enforcement agencies in the Southwest listed methamphetamine as the biggest drug threat locally in 2016, compared to 57 percent in 2009. Attributes the sharp increase in meth-related deaths to higher production levels, the drug's potency, and cheaper prices.
Report at: https://www.dea.gov/resource-center/2016 NDTA Summ ...
"NAFTA and energy: build pipelines, not walls." Economist, June 17th-23rd, 2017, p. 62
Discusses energy trade between the United States and Mexico. Notes that in 2015 the trade balance for American firms flipped from a deficit of $20 billion to a surplus of $11.5 billion. Expresses concerns that the Trump administration's threats to pull the United States out of NAFTA could jeopardize the vibrant network of energy markets taking shape between the two countries.
"Civilian drones: taking flight." Economist Technology Quarterly, June 10, 2017, pp. 3-4, 6, 8-14
Discusses three specific developments that accelerated the rise of commercial drones. Illustrates how the drone industry benefits from rapid advances in consumer electronics and how drones have a wide range of businesses uses.
"Ethanol sets sail." By Jonathan Eisenthal. Ethanol Today, May/June 2017, pp. 8-15
Reports that, although China stopped buying ethanol and distillers dried grains [DDGs] from the United States, ethanol exports currently outpace last year's exports. Explains the current environment of the ethanol industry and quotes individuals from the ethanol industry. Lists top United States export partners of ethanol and DDGs.
"Why the U.S. should help other nations' farmers." By Doug Bereuter and Dan Glickman. Ethanol Today, May/June 2017, pp. 16-17
Argues that the United States should support the agricultural progress and food security of other nations because it is an investment that will ultimately create new and expanding economic opportunities that will benefit domestic farmers.
"Unpacking the state and local tax toolkit: sources of state and local tax collections." By Jared Walczak. Fiscal Fact (Tax Foundation), June 20, 2017, pp. 1-15
Reviews the share of property taxes and sales taxes in tax collections at the local level. Mentions the Texas margin tax. Includes a fifty-state table comparing sources of state and local tax collection by state for fiscal year 2014.
See: https://files.taxfoundation.org/20170619115738/Tax ...
"For selected services, blacks and Hispanics more likely to receive low-value care than whites." By William L. Schpero, et al. Health Affairs, June 2017, 1065-1069
Uses Medicare administrative data from 2006-2011, with findings suggesting that not only are minority patients at risk of receiving less effective care, they also appear to be often at risk of receiving more ineffective care. Provides examples such as black and Hispanic beneficiaries being more likely to inappropriately receive feeding tubes, unnecessary cardiac screening, etc. Highlights the need to understand racial and ethnic differences in the receipt of low-value care to inform the design of policies and payment models aimed at improving access to quality care and focus attention on the interplay between underuse and overuse of care.
"Three-year impacts of the Affordable Care Act: improved medical care and health among low-income adults." By Benjamin D. Sommers, et al. Health Affairs, June 2017, pp. 1119-1128
Compares changes in health care use and self-reported health using survey data from low-income adults in three states: Kentucky (which expanded Medicaid), Arkansas (which expanded private insurance to low-income adults using the federal Marketplace), and Texas (which did not expand coverage). Asserts that by the end of 2016, the uninsurance rate in the two expansion states had dropped by more than 20 percentage points relative to the nonexpansion state. Notes that for uninsured people gaining coverage, this change was associated with a 41-percentage-point increase in having a usual source of care, reduction in annual out-of-pocket spending, significant increases in preventive health visits and glucose testing, and a 23-percentage-point increase in "excellent" self-reported health.
"Preventing and addressing cyberbullying through equitable state and local policies." By David Hinojosa. IDRA Newsletter (Intercultural Development Research Association), May 2017, pp. 3-4
Examines considerations that should go into cyberbullying policies. Explains that civil liberty concerns involving free speech must be balanced against the need to protect students and discipline should occur in a way that minimizes the loss of learning time. Highlights information on the United States Department of Health and Human Services managed website, stopbullying.gov.
See: http://www.idra.org/resource-center/preventing-add ...
"Balance billing by health care providers: assessing consumer protections across states." By Kevin Lucia, Jack Hoadley, and Ashley Williams. Internet Resource, June 2017, pp. 1-10
Examines state laws that protect consumers from balance billing by an out-of-network provider for care delivered in an emergency department or in-network hospital. Reports that of the 21 states offering protections, only six have a comprehensive approach to safeguarding consumers in both settings. Classifies Texas among states with partial protections. Suggests states may be better positioned in the short term to protect consumers, rather than waiting for a federal policy solution.
See: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/files/publ ...
"How repealing and replacing the ACA could reduce access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment and parity protections." By Jane B. Wishner. Internet Resource, June 2017, pp. 1-5
Examines the parity protections in the Affordable Care Act [ACA] to cover mental health and substance use disorder benefits. Notes that prior to 2008, nearly two-thirds of people with employer-sponsored insurance had special limits on inpatient behavioral health coverage, and three-quarters had limits on outpatient behavioral health coverage. Concludes that mental health and substance use coverage could roll back to pre-ACA levels if the American Health Care Act becomes law.
See: http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue ...
"Medicaid in small towns and rural America: a lifeline for children, families, and communities." By Jack Hoadley, et al. Internet Resource, June 2017, pp. 1-23
Reports that the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion has had a disproportionately positive impact on small towns and rural areas. Notes that Texas had the largest decline in the number of uninsured children — 52,000 children — in small towns and rural areas, and the rate of uninsured adults in these areas dropped from 35 to 29 percent between 2008-2009 and 2014-2015.
See: https://ccf.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017 ...
"Tobacco use among middle and high school students — United States, 2011–2016." By Ahmed Jamal, et al. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), June 16, 2017, pp. 597-603
Reports that in 2016, one in five high school students and one in fourteen middle school students reported use of a tobacco product on one or more of the past 30 days. Asserts that decreases in cigarette and cigar use during 2011-2016 were offset by increases in hookah and e-cigarette use, resulting in no significant change in any tobacco use. Observes that in 2016, e-cigarettes remain the most commonly used tobacco product among high and middle school students.
See: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/pdfs/mm6623 ...
"Sustainability: adapting to climate change." By Jack Moyer. Opflow, June 2017, pp. 20-26
Argues that water and wastewater systems must identify and manage risks associated with climate change. Suggests that water and wastewater systems may be among the most vulnerable infrastructure categories because of the systems' locations near water bodies and because of the critical role water plays in so many aspects of climate change. Lists the Environmental Protection Agency's notable climate change indicators. Offers ways the water sector can adapt accordingly and recommends available tools.
"Systems operations: recycling systems minimize flushing discharge." By Kari Kyler Daniska and Susan K. Willis. Opflow, June 2017, pp. 16-18
Reports that, in California, the San Jose Water Company [SJWC] successfully adopted a truck-mounted flushing method to effectively reduce water consumption and keep water mains clean. Concludes that implementation of the truck-mounted recirculating-flushing method allows SJWC to comply with existing water conservation regulations and should adapt to decreased water availability.
"Are robots going to steal our jobs?" By Ronald Bailey. Reason, July 2017, pp. 24-30
Explains technologists see robots and machines limiting the number of jobs in the future, but economists argue automation has paved the way for more jobs, better jobs, and a higher standard of living. Suggests that throughout history, advances in technology have destroyed some types of jobs but more importantly have created completely new occupations.
"Protecting free speech in medicine." By Christina Sandefur. Regulation (CATO Institute), Summer 2017, pp. 22-25
Highlights federal law that prohibits pharmaceutical companies from sharing information about off-label, alternative uses of approved medicines with medical professionals to protect against the misbranding or misrepresentation of what a drug or treatment can do. Mentions Arizona recently enacted a law to safeguard the free speech rights of those in the medical field to share truthful research and information about alternative uses for approved medicines.
Related information at: https://apps.azleg.gov/BillStatus/BillOverview/694 ...
See: https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/seria ...
"Federal pullback, climate change could boost state spending on disasters." By Sarah Breitenbach. Stateline (Pew Charitable Trusts), June 19, 2017, pp. 1-13
Discusses the federal government's proposal to reduce federal disaster relief spending associated with presidentially declared major disasters. Notes Texas was among the five states that received the most federal disaster assistance between 1999 and 2015, with an annual average of $240,848,363. Suggests climate change is likely to make disasters more frequent and more expensive.
See: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/ ...
Related information at: https://www.gao.gov/assets/680/679977.pdf
"State and local fiscal effects of immigration." By Kim Rueben and Sarah Gault. Tax Policy Center (Urban Institute and Brookings Institution), June 6, 2017, pp. 1-19
Examines the fiscal impact of immigrants on state and local finances and the balance between immigrants' contribution to revenues through payment of taxes and the draw on expenditures by consuming public services. Discusses the geographic distribution of immigrants, with Texas ranking sixth in percentage of immigrants at 21 percent. Details the many factors involved in calculation of the cost of public goods, especially public education costs. Summarizes recent research by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the economic and fiscal consequences of immigration.
See: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/sites/default/files ...
Report at: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23550/the-economic-and ...
"Preparing for the worst: how UTMB became Texas' leader in fighting infectious disease." By Sean Price. Texas Medicine, June 2017, pp. 49-55
Explores the work of the Galveston National Laboratory [GNL] at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston [UTMB], which studies and tracks emerging infectious diseases and defends against bioterrorism. Describes the GNL's contributions in biological safety training for handling and researching dangerous pathogens. Outlines the problems with getting vaccines for viruses like Zika and Ebola produced.