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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 28, 2016 list Print (PDF)

"Loan shark Inc." By Bethany McLean. Atlantic Monthly, May 2016, pp. 66-69
Considers the pros and cons of payday lending and whether other financial tools, like banks and credit unions, could be an alternative to payday lending. Reports Colorado reformed its payday-lending industry by reducing permissible fees, extending the term of the loan to six months, and requiring loans be paid over a longer period of time. Mentions Texas payday borrowers, along with several other states, pay the highest prices in the country.
Related information at: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/ ...
"The $2,000,000,000,000 prince." By Peter Waldman. Bloomberg Businessweek, May 1, 2016, pp. 56-59
Profiles Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudia Arabia and his emergence as the second deputy prime minister and chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs. Explores the prince's vision and economic plans to get Saudi Arabia's economy off oil. Discusses many of the obstacles that stand in the way of reducing Saudi Arabia's reliance on oil and of the ramifications for the rest of the world's economies while it does so.
"Latinos and literacy: Hispanic students' progress in reading." By Manica Ramos and David Murphey. Child Trends, March 2016, pp. 1-24
Charts increases in United States Latino students' reading test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP]) from 2005 to 2015. Compares progress across states, and some major cities and school districts, including Houston and Austin.
See: http://childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ ...
"The price isn't right." Christian Science Monitor, April 25, 2016, pp. 27-32
Provides an overview of the shortage of affordable housing in metropolitan areas such as Boston, San Francisco, New York, and Seattle. Examines how the lack of affordable housing affects residents, often causing low-income or even moderate-income residents to move to further away where housing is more affordable. Reports on government officials' efforts, such zoning changes or offering loans to first- time homebuyers, by to address the affordable housing shortage.
"Are financially desperate law schools using a 'reverse Robin Hood scheme' to stay afloat?" By Aaron N. Taylor. Chronicle of Higher Education, April 15, 2016, A29
Discusses falling law school enrollments and the fact that a larger proportion of applicants are being admitted which has led to the highest ever proportion of black and Latino students in 2015 (21%). Suggests the downside is that these students may be saddled with high student debt (60% of black and Latino expect to incur more than $100,000 in law-school debt).
Related information at: http://lssse.indiana.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/0 ...
"Rebuilding the bachelor's degree." By Jeffrey J. Selingo. Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2016, pp. B6-B9
Highlights the historical development of the bachelor's degree which melds the thinking of colonial days with Industrial Revolution needs. Claims the current degree does not provide enough hands-on learning, or emphasis on creativity and independent thinking, qualities in demand by today's employers. Discusses projects underway at Georgetown, Arizona State, and University of Southern California that offer improved degree designs, better capturing learning outside the classroom, shifting project-based learning into the first year and providing a mix of academic disciplines.
"Reforms come to reverse mortgages." By Donna Rosato. Consumer Reports, May 2016, pp. 14-16
Highlights tougher new rules that could protect eligible borrowers against potential risks associated with reverse mortgages, formally known as home equity conversion mortgages.
Report at: https://www.fdic.gov/news/conferences/consumersymp ...
"In DFW, there's a raging desire to construct data centers ASAP; Texas' tech footprint." By Candace Carlisle. Dallas Business Journal, April 22, 2016, pp. 6-8, 10, 12, 18
Reports data center operators are taking advantage of available land and infrastructure to launch huge developments in North Texas. Highlights several notable data center projects and Texas' high-tech workforce footprint.
"Toyota: automaker seeks to change insurance game." By Bill Hethcock. Dallas Business Journal, April 22, 2016, p. 28
Reports Toyota has established a joint venture telematics car insurance services company that will develop the technology to analyze drivers' behavior patterns and set their auto insurance rates accordingly. Notes the company will offer a new type of use-based insurance that allows people to buy insurance by the week.
"Cigarettes: smoke signals." Economist, April 23rd-29th, 2016, pp. 55-56
Profiles Philip Morris International's iQOS, a new tobacco product touted as less harmful than standard cigarettes. Notes the company will seek regulatory approval to designate iQOS as a "modified risk tobacco product."
"Earthquakes: preparing for the big one." Economist, April 23rd-29th, 2016, pp. 67-68
Reports recent earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador are heightening concerns about building codes, enforcement of construction standards, and effective warning systems.
"Pemex: turning the tanker." Economist, April 23rd-29th, 2016, pp. 54-55
Reports low oil prices, inadequate investments, and pension liabilities have placed Pemex, Mexico's state-owned oil company, in financial straights. Notes Moody's has cut the company's credit rating to its lowest investment grade. Explains how Pemex's new chief executive plans to turn things around.
"Del Mar College strives to be the antidote for degree disenchantment." By Michael Bratten. Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, April 2016, pp. 21-23
Reports Del Mar College's focus on local industry needs is helping students who already have a bachelor's degree but are seeking more marketable job skills for in-demand jobs. Believes undergraduates could avoid "degree disenchantment" and additional college expenses if they were better informed in the initial career advising process.
"Immigration's impact on the Texas economy." By Ike Brannon and Logan Albright. Internet Resource, March 24, 2016, pp. 1-12
Considers the unique opportunities Texas offers immigrants as compared with the rest of the country. Examines competing theories related to the impact of immigrants on the Texas economy. Finds that Texas retains a high immigrant population despite having generally less generous welfare programs than other states.
See: http://www.texaspolicy.com/library/doclib/Immigrat ...
"Unmet need for preschool services in California: statewide and local analysis." By Jennifer Anthony, et al. Internet Resource, March 2016, pp. 1-31 (Note Length)
Analyzes the unmet need for preschool services in California, based on eligibility and enrollment in the State Preschool Program and other state and federal early childhood programs. Makes specific policy recommendations to maximize preschool expenditures, such as aligning funding with quality standards.
See: http://www.earlyedgecalifornia.org/resources/resou ...
"The good life." By Steven H. Woolf and Jason Q. Purnell. JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), April 26, 2016, pp. 1706-1708
Discusses reasons for America's lower life expectancy and higher disease morbidity than other high-income countries. Points to unhealthful behaviors, such as smoking, but acknowledges a variety of factors, including education level and income status, also contribute. Looks at strategies to advance population health, from legislation to marketing.
"Income, life expectancy, and community health." By J. Michael McGinnis. JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), April 26, 2016, pp. 1709-1710
Discusses the link between higher income and longer life expectancy. Explores the role of community in life expectancy.
"Examining rural/urban differences in prescription opioid misuse among US adolescents." By Shannon M. Monnat and Khary K. Rigg. Journal of Rural Health, Spring 2016, pp. 204-218
Examines differences in prescription opioid misuse among teens in rural, small urban, and large urban areas.
"Are utiliities and government skimping on R&D?" By Kenneth Costello. Public Utilities Fortnightly, April 2016, pp. 56-57, 66
Considers the decrease in Research and Development [R&D] funds by government and the private sector in recent decades. Points out grid modernization and transforming the electric industry from a commodity provider to a service provider will require basic research and R&D. Concludes the United States needs to increase funding for energy R&D and public regulations should provide incentives to utilities to encourage innovation.
"Electricity, economic efficiency and growth." By Silvio Flaim and Loren Toole. Public Utilities Fortnightly, April 2016, pp. 43-45, 70
Advocates building a fully integrated grid would bring higher levels of economic efficiency and prosperity.
"Regulatory reform: to presume much." By Sam Batkins. Regulation (CATO Institute), Spring 2016, pp. 28-31
Comments on federal agencies' poor track records in estimating proposed regulations' costs and benefits. Suggests retrospective reviews conducted after five or ten years to discern the actual effects of a regulation would improve future rulemaking.
Related information at: http://mercatus.org/reportcards
See: http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serial ...
"Want cheaper drugs?" By David R. Henderson and Charles L. Hooper. Regulation (CATO Institute), Spring 2016, pp. 20-23
Considers the best long-term solutions to keep pharmaceutical costs down: more competition, more prescription-to-OTC approvals combined with cost sharing, and elimination of the Medicaid "best price" regulation.
See: http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serial ...
"High school financial literacy mandate could boost Texans' economic well-being." By Camden Cornwell and Anthony Murphy. Southwest Economy (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas), First Quarter 2016, pp. 10-13
Discusses Texas' relatively low level of financial literacy and the potential impact on financial behavior. Notes consumer credit measures of young Texas adults have improved since the Texas Legislature mandated high school personal financial literacy coursework in 2007.
See: http://www.dallasfed.org/assets/documents/research ...
Report at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2014/20146 ...
"Texas economy remains resilient, but low oil prices loom as future risk." By Keith R. Phillips and Christopher Slijk. Southwest Economy (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas), First Quarter 2016, pp. 3-7, 20
Presents an economic forecast of job growth in Texas in 2016, and warns that oil prices averaging less than $30 per barrel could pose the greatest risk. Analyzes the 2015 slowdown in job growth, the energy sector, and manufacturing.
See: http://www.dallasfed.org/assets/documents/research ...
"Vermont labeling law will affect Texas, nation." By Jessica Domel. Texas Agriculture, April 15, 2016, pp. 6, 19
Considers Vermont's soon-to-be implemented food labeling law, which will require that certain foods produced using genetically modified ingredients to be labeled. Discusses potential impacts to food producers and consumers, and legislation before Congress which seeks to preempt the Vermont legislation and implement a voluntary labeling system.