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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.

March 23, 2017 list Print (PDF)

"Calculating crime." By Jason Tashea. ABA Journal: The Lawyer's Magazine, March 2017, pp. 54-59
Raises ethical questions and due process concerns about the growing popularity and use of risk assessment and algorithmic tools that guide decision-making in the criminal justice system about bail, sentencing and parole decisions.
"Trump's deportation plan." Christian Science Monitor, March 13, 2017, p. 17
Explains Presidents Bush and Obama used a 1996 law to deport unauthorized immigrants "in transit," defined as those picked up within 100 miles of the border who had crossed within the prior 14 days. Reports President Trump has expanded this expedited removal process to include any unauthorized immigrant who is anywhere in the United States and who has been here two years or less. Reviews whether unauthorized immigrants have legal rights and looks at the legal framework of the expedited removal process.
"Students without DACA are more fearful than ever." By Katherine Mangan. Chronicle of Higher Education, March 17, 2017, p. A22
Summarizes the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program [DACA] set up by President Obama and states President Trump is still deciding whether or how to end the program. Points out there were 507,000 unauthorized immigrants enrolled in colleges in 2012, but only 49 percent were eligible to apply for DACA, and not all of those did apply. Highlights the situations of specific students and explains how their uncertain status affects their lives.
"States of emergency: legislation that threatens church-state separation is pending in half the country." By Liz Hayes. Church & State, March 2017, pp. 8-10
Reports nearly two dozen states have proposed legislation that would create or expand school voucher programs, would allow religion to be cited as a reason to nullify nondiscrimination and health care laws, or would return creationism and prayer to public schools. References Texas bill that would "force colleges to recognize and fund student organizations that bar membership based on religious beliefs," HB428, 85th Legislature.
"Pension fund crisis; Inside the Dallas pension fund's real estate holdings." By Candace Carlisle. Dallas Business Journal, March 10, 2017, pp. 4-6, 8-9
Reports on the Dallas Police and Fire Pension fund's cash-flow problems and the mismanagement of high-risk real estate investments that has resulted in millions of dollars in losses. Provides a timeline of the fund and a list of notable properties that were financed or developed with money from the fund.
"The future of insurance: counsel of protection." Economist, March 11th - 17th, 2017, pp. 67-68
Reports insurers are moving from simply paying claims to offering distinctive services to keep up with competitors and to respond to the "technological disruption" that is transforming the industry.
"Prisons: the incarcerated workforce." Economist, March 18th-24th, 2017, p. 26
Reports America's billion-dollar prison labor industry pays inmates approximately $0.90 an hour or less for menial tasks that are unlikely to provide marketable skills or boost their job prospects while states and private prisons "profit from punishment."
"Pharmacies push Texas lawmakers to reel in drug prices." By Kimberly Reeves. Houston Business Journal, March 9, 2017, p. 10
Examines legislation filed during the 85th Legislature regarding the costs associated with prescription drugs. Discusses how HB2360 and SB1076, 85th Legislature, aim to reduce and eliminate "deceptive profiteering" and the need for copayments if the cost of the prescription drug is less than the cost of the copayment.
"Since when are good grades and diversity a bad thing? 7 recommendations and the Texas top ten percent plan." By David Hinojosa. IDRA Newsletter (Intercultural Development Research Association), February 2017, pp. 1-2,4
Reviews the history of the Top Ten Percent Plan, enacted by HB588, 75th Legislature, R.S., and its success at admitting low-income, rural, and minority students to Texas' flagship universities. Suggests seven recommendations for the continued success of this plan, including expanding Tier I universities by making improved investments in at least five additional major universities.
See: http://www.idra.org/resource-center/since-good-gra ...
"The health insurance gap after implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Texas." By Gordon Gong, et al. Internet Resource, March 2017, pp. 1-8
Reports on insurance coverage gaps for non-elderly adult Texans [NEATs] ineligible for Medicaid or enrollment in the health insurance exchange marketplace in Texas in rural and urban areas in East, West, and South Texas. Finds that in 2014, there were more than one million NEATs in the insurance gap, accounting for 24.5 percent of all uninsured persons in Texas; the gap was significantly higher in rural areas than in urban areas in East and South Texas and in Texas as a whole. Asserts that the rate of people falling in the insurance gap was much higher in Texas than the national level largely due to the stringent eligibility limit for enrolling in Medicaid, which was not expanded in Texas.
See: https://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=44297
"Undocumented immigrants' state and local tax contributions (2017)." By Lisa Christensen Gee, et al. Internet Resource, March 1, 2017, pp. 1-12
Provides state-by-state and national estimates of the state and local tax contributions of the eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the United States as of 2014. Projects the increase in tax contributions, by state, if all undocumented immigrants were granted legal status.
See: http://www.itep.org/pdf/immigration2017.pdf
"Zero to three infant and early childhood mental health policy convening: aligning policy and practice: mental health assessment and treatment of infants." Internet Resource, February 3, 2017, pp. 1-26 (Note Length)
Presents Zero to Three conference proceedings from October 2016 on infant and early childhood mental health [IECMH], focusing on strategies to improve assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Describes presentations from national experts, cross-state and cross-sector discussion sessions, and development of state action plans in the area of IECMH.
See: https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1701-zero-to ...
"Cannabis use and risk for substance use disorders and mood or anxiety disorders." By Kevin P. Hill. JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), March 14, 2017, pp. 1070-1071
Examines prospective associations between cannabis use and the risk of mental health and substance use disorders in the general adult population. Finds that cannabis use is associated with an increased risk for several substance use disorders, but it was not associated with mood or anxiety disorders.
"The economics of Medicaid reform and block grants." By Paula Chatterjee and Benjamin D. Sommers. JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), March 14, 2017, pp. 1007-1008
Outlines the economic implications of Medicaid reform for states, physicians, and patients, using United States House Speaker Paul Ryan's June 2016 presentation. Notes that Ryan's plan calls for a major reduction in federal funding for Medicaid, which means states will face difficult choices in implementing their programs. Predicts that states may raise taxes, and that while they may attempt to develop more efficient programs, past efforts to improve healthcare delivery have produced only modest savings that would not cover the decreasing federal funds. Observes that health centers will have difficulty providing services such as case management, community health workers, and interpreter services, and may struggle with lower payment rates.
"Trends in suicide by level of urbanization โ€” United States, 1999โ€“2015." By Scott R. Kegler, Deborah M. Stone, and Kristin M. Holland. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), March 17, 2017, pp. 1-4
Observes that during 1999-2015, suicide rates increased across all levels of urbanization, with rates in less urban areas having been higher than rates in more urban areas. Suggests that geographic disparities might reflect limited access to mental health care, social isolation, and opioid misuse, as well as the economic recession which disproportionately affected less urban areas. Proposes a comprehensive suicide prevention public health effort, including strengthening economic support during times of financial hardship, addressing provider shortages, and teaching coping and problem-solving skills.
See: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/pdfs/mm6610 ...
"Mandate for confusion." By Ramesh Ponnuru. National Review, March 20, 2017, pp. 22, 24
Highlights two ideas that have been included in various proposed bills to replace Obamacare: tax credits for people who need to buy health care policies directly and default enrollment or auto-enrollment for people who do not use a tax credit and otherwise would have no insurance. Looks at these ideas and Obamacare's mandate from a policy, legal, and theoretical viewpoint.
"The war over enforcement." By Mark Krikorian and Richard Lowry. National Review, March 20, 2017, pp. 30-33
Reviews the steps the Trump administration has taken and plans to take to control illegal immigration. Suggests additional steps should be a better entry-exit system to control visas, phasing in e-verify for all new job hires, and reducing legal immigration.
"Study links water injection, induced seismicity in Central and Northwest Oklahoma." Oil and Gas Journal, March 6, 2017, pp. 40-43
Argues that injection into disposal wells the Arbuckle formation, located in Oklahoma, is likely the cause of the state's earthquakes. Discusses Oklahoma's seismicity evolution, the regulatory actions taken to decrease seismicity by reducing deep injection, and the importance of declining oil prices in cutting injected volumes in advance of full implementation of these regulations. Includes charts and graphs.
"US Gulf Coast crude terminals expanding to meet Permian growth." By Christopher E. Smith. Oil and Gas Journal, March 6, 2017, pp. 70-72
Reports that continued growth of crude oil production in the Permian Basin has prompted expansion of crude export capacity along the Gulf Coast. Discusses storage and pipeline expansions affecting the Texas Gulf Coast. Refers to information from the Energy Information Administration's January 2017 Permian Region Drilling Report.
Report at: https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/drilling/archive/201 ...
"'Bathroom bill' losing momentum with lawmakers." By Kimberly Reeves. San Antonio Business Journal, March 10, 2017, p. 13
Profiles SB6, 85th Legislature, and the resistance it faces from some legislators and businesses. Reports that the growing concern from businesses and the potential lost revenue from tourism has some legislators wary of supporting the bill.
"Senate bill seeks to curtail hailstorm lawsuits in Texas." By Kimberly Reeves. San Antonio Business Journal, March 17, 2017, p. 10
Examines SB10, 85th Legislature, which is aimed at reducing litigation on hailstorm damage claims. Reports that increased premiums, limited policy writing, and insurance companies going out of business has spurred the need for this legislation. Mentions that opponents see no need for the legislation and are concerned the bill could weaken consumers' rights.
"Don't drink the water." By Charles Schmidt. Scientific American, April 2017, pp. 64-69
Considers the widespread issue of drinking water containing high levels of perfluorochemicals, common components in many consumer products.
"A rare success against Alzheimer's." By Miia Kivipelto and Krister Hakansson. Scientific American, April 2017, pp. 32-37
Examines a study that suggests prevention may be the best strategy for curbing Alzheimer's.
"Filming the police: an interference or a public service." By Aracely Rodman. St. Mary's Law Journal, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 145-177 (Note Length)
Examines whether citizens have a right to film on-duty police officers and which acts constitute an offense subject to Texas Penal Code ยง38.15 โ€” interference with a peace officer's public duties. Discusses the American Civil Liberties Union's Mobile Justice App and whether its usage places people at risk of arrest under the interference statute. Mentions SB897, 83rd Legislature, R.S., which sought to clarify the legality of filming officers but was left pending in committee.
"With a daily dial, police reach out to seniors." By Jenni Bergal. Stateline (Pew Charitable Trusts), March 21, 2017, pp. 1-6
Highlights police agencies' use of automated telephone reassurance systems to check in on seniors, a growing trend in small towns, suburbs, and rural areas across the country. Notes nearly half of women age 75 and older live alone. Mentions a check-in program in Belton, Texas.
See: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/ ...