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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.

April 16, 2015 list Print (PDF)

"Is there a middle ground?" By Josh Eidelson. Bloomberg Businessweek, April 13, 2015, pp. 22-23
Examines the recent Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs) legislation being sought by several state legislatures and the implications of such legislation.
"States can improve health outcomes and lower costs in Medicaid using existing flexibility." By Jessica Schubel and Judith Solomon. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, April 9, 2015, pp. 1-18
Explores the debate on imposing premiums, cost-sharing charges, and work requirements for Medicaid. Notes Texas' decision in 2008 not to institute co-pays for non-emergency use of the ER in its Medicaid program because it would cost $2.9 million to collect the fees.
See: http://www.cbpp.org/files/4-9-15health.pdf
Related information at: http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/reports/HospitalEmerge ...
"Quakes rattle Okla. and flagship's control of state scientist." By Paul Basken. Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2015, p. A16-A17
Explores whether political pressure has prevented the Oklahoma Geological Survey, an organization affiliated with the University of Oklahoma, from linking increased earthquake activity in Oklahoma with disposal wells. Quotes Texas state climatologist, John W. Nielsen-Gammon regarding the affiliation of state science agencies with flagship universities.
"States hone efforts to collect graduates' job data." By Lance Lambert. Chronicle of Higher Education, April 3, 2015, p. A16
Reviews states' efforts to collect data on graduates' jobs and pay. Highlights limitations on current work-force data collection and interpretations.
"No bonus for taxpayers: deeply indebted pension systems continue to dole out bonuses." By Steven Malanga. City Journal (Manhattan Institute), Spring 2015, pp. 1-2
Provides examples of city and state retirement systems that are providing bonuses and 13th checks in lieu of annual cost-of-living adjustments to their retirees, regardless of their systems' debt and underfunded pensions that may not be able to pay future obligations.
See: http://www.city-journal.org/2015/25_2_snd-bonuses. ...
"Texas' research raider; Researcher-raiding fund a new twist on an existing idea." By Bill Hethcock. Dallas Business Journal, April 10, 2015, pp. 4, 7, 9
Discusses Governor Greg Abbott's proposals to create a fund to bolster university research and to recruit Nobel Laureate type researchers from out-of-state universities to Texas public universities.
"Growth in America: careful now." Economist, April 11th-17th, 2015, pp. 65-66
Explains the components that make up gross domestic product (GDP) and how wages may hold the answer to America's economic recovery. Notes the change in average hourly earnings of private-sector workers during the first quarter of 2015 was the fastest since the recession.
Report at: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/projects/bpea/fal ...
"Shell and BG: a vote for gas." Economist, April 11th-17th, 2015, pp. 57-58
Reports the proposed merger of Shell and BG Group highlights how the energy business is changing, as the fall in oil prices "has sent companies scrambling to cut costs and pacify investors." Suggests other deals and acquisitions between oil and gas-producing companies could be on the horizon, pointing out that the oil-price crash in the 1990s brought a wave of mergers.
"Eligibility rules fuel growth of Indiana's voucher program." By Arianna Prothero. Education Week, March 25, 2015, p.6
Looks at the school voucher program in Indiana and the factors behind its rapid growth. Discusses state oversight requirements and the cost of the program. Reports changes in eligibility requirements has increased the number of participants and altered the makeup of students in the program: the percentage of white students has increased while the number of minority students has dropped.
Related information at: http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/choice/2 ...
"Texas lawmakers wrangle a herd of education measures." By Andrew Ujifusa. Education Week, April 1, 2015, pp. 15, 17
Highlights notable education bills being addressed in the 84th Texas Legislature including legislation on school choice, parent-trigger, testing, state-run districts, and A-F school ratings. Mentions SB 276, and SB 642, 84th Legislature. Quotes Senator Royce West.
"California emergency department visit rates for medical conditions increased while visit rates for injuries fell, 2005-11." By Renee Y. Hsia, Julia B. Nath, and Laurence C. Baker. Health Affairs, April 2015, pp. 621-626
Examines the evolving role of emergency departments from treating not just injuries but also acute illnesses and complex medical conditions. Looks at emergency departments in California over a six-year span to track changes in admissions.
"Care coordination program for Washington State Medicaid enrollees reduced inpatient hospital costs." By Jingping Xing, Candace Goehring, and David Mancuso. Health Affairs, April 2015, pp. 653-661
Discusses Washington State's Chronic Care Management program that coordinates care for clinically complex Medicaid beneficiaries. Finds a significant reduction in inpatient hospital costs for patients who used the program.
"Michigan's fee-for-value physician incentive program reduces spending and improves quality in primary care." By Christy Harris Lemak, et al. Health Affairs, April 2015, pp. 645-652
Explores Michigan's Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Physician Group Incentive Program. Explains how the program incorporates a fee-for-value reimbursement scheme along with a more traditional fee-for-service arrangement.
"More middle-class families choose charters." By Richard Whitmire. Internet Resource, Summer 2015, pp. 1-7
Examines recent rise in middle-class student enrollment in charter schools and whether it could be a political game changer in the future. Profiles San Antonio and its efforts to establish charter schools that appeal to middle-class parents.
See: http://educationnext.org/middle-class-families-cho ...
"Clean energy diplomacy from Bush to Obama." By Graham Pugh. Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2015, pp. 41-54
Examines policies under both the Bush and Obama administrations related to climate and energy.
"Climate models as economic guides: scientific challenge or quixotic quest?" By Andrea Saltelli, et al. Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2015, pp. 79-84
Considers mathematical models of climate change. Suggests that while they may be a helpful tool in pursuing scientific inquiries about climate change, the uncertainty present in such models limits their usefulness to policymakers.
"A place for conscience." By Kevin D. Williamson. National Review, April 20, 2015, pp. 28-30
Considers the current debate regarding gay rights and state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. Draws comparisons among discrimination against gays, discrimination against Jewish Americans, and discrimination against African Americans.
"Weather underground." By Rivka Galchen. New Yorker, April 13, 2015, pp. 34-40
Addresses the situation of increased seismicity in Oklahoma, where the rate of earthquakes 3.0 magnitude or greater, is now nearly triple that of California. Suggests the cause is the positioning of certain disposal wells — dug too deep, near or into basement rock, or impinging on a fault line. Reviews recent legislative and regulatory responses.
See: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/13/weath ...
"The online sales tax cash grab." By Veronique de Rugy. Reason, May 2015, pp. 16-17
Summarizes different proposals regarding sales tax collection of internet sales. Compares proposals that levy taxes based on the seller's or the buyer's location. Identifies factors that would make e-commerce taxes fairer and more straightforward.
"Immigrant legalization offers range of economic gains, some fiscal costs." Southwest Economy (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas), First Quarter 2015, pp. 8-9
Presents an interview with Pia Orrenius, Vice President and Senior Economist, about the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, currently blocked by a federal court.
See: http://www.dallasfed.org/assets/documents/research ...
"'Host and hostage': Pantex and the Texas Panhandle." By Alex Hunt. Southwestern Historical Quarterly, April 2015, pp. 338-363 (Note Length)
Explores the complicated relationship between Pantex, the sole site of nuclear bomb assembly and disassembly in the United States, and the Texas Panhandle. Explains the plant's economic importance and patriotic support for Pantex during World War II have given way to increasing concerns over environmental contamination and a lack of transparency. Notes a 1994 Texas Department of Health study found an above-average cancer rate in the three counties around Pantex from 1981-1992.
"For the civic good." By Jane Hoback. State Legislatures, April 2015, pp. 22-24
Describes several approaches states have implemented in an effort to improve Americans' knowledge of government and how it functions. Notes the current emphasis on math and science has meant less time spent teaching civics. Focuses on programs legislatures in Tennessee, Hawaii, and Florida have implemented to address this issue.
"Keeping track." By Meghan McCann. State Legislatures, April 2015, pp. 20-21
Acknowledges the difficulty states have had in keeping current personal information on foster children as they pass through the system. Discusses how "ebackpacks" have been one of these options that has worked well. Notes Texas uses electronic health passports.
"EPA seeks to regulate fracking wastewater." By Angela Neville. Texas Lawyer, April 13, 2015, p. 6
Discusses a proposed regulation by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that would prevent untreated fracking wastewater from being treated by publicly owned plants, also known as publicly owned treatment works (POTW). Notes that because some unconventional oil and natural gas (UOG) facilities have discharged wastewater to POTWs in the past, the proposed rule would eliminate POTWs from having to analyze future requests relating to UOG extraction wastewater.
Related information at: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/oilan ...
"SpaceX launches on the Texas border. But, is it good for tourism?" By Mariano "Bean" Ayala. Texas Town & City, April 2015, pp. 26-27
Discusses the development of the SpaceX launch facility in Brownsville and its potential to enhance the local tourism industry, as rocket launch facilities have in the areas around Cape Canaveral and the Wallops Flight Facility.