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Current Articles & Research Resources, May 24

In this weekly post, we feature helpful research tools and recent articles of interest to the legislative community. 

  • Review election night returns for the primary runoff races. (Texas Secretary of State, May 23, 2018)
  • Consider the difficulties faced by those who are working but struggling to afford a middle-class lifestyle. (CNN Money, May 18, 2018)
  • Examine incidents of gun violence in schools going back to 1999. (The Washington Post, May 20, 2018)
  • Explore publications and resources related to school bus safety. (National Conference of State Legislatures, May 18, 2018)

Members of the Texas legislative community may request the articles below here or by calling 512-463-1252.

  • "The birth of the new American aristocracy." By Matthew Stewart. Atlantic Monthly, June 2018, pp. 48-63.
    Explores the "meritocratic class" in America, or the 9.9 percent of the population poised between the top 0.1 percent and the bottom 90 percent. Explains the factors that define this group and have led to its existence in a time of rising inequality and falling social mobility.
  • "Why NFIB is fighting Austin's sick-leave mandate." By Will Newtown. Austin Business Journal, May 18, 2018, pp. 27.
    Explains the National Federation of Independent Business' [NFIB] position on regulatory mandates imposed by local governments.
    Related document at:
  • "Building resilience." By Lisa McKinney. Capitol Ideas, March/April 2018, pp. 42-45.
    Highlights the necessity of infrastructure planning for states as an investment in emergency preparedness, after the record-high cost of United States weather and climate disasters in 2017. Estimates Hurricane Harvey is the most costly hurricane in United States history, at $125 billion.
  • "Facing rising corrections costs, states are course correcting." By Katie Albis. Captiol Ideas, March/April 2018, p. 34-35.
    Notes states spent $57 billion on corrections in 2016, including prison operations, probation and parole systems, alternatives to incarceration, and juvenile justice programs. Quotes Bryan Collier, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
  • "Pre-K punishment under spotlight in federal data." By Christina A. Samuels and Alex Harwin. Education Week, May 16, 2018, pp. 1, 20.
    Reports the federal government now requires compilation of data on the physical punishment of preschoolers in public schools.
  • "Schools play catch up to rise in student vaping." Education Week, May 9, 2018, pp. 1, 14.
    Attributes an increase of vaping in schools to a lack of regulation and the Juul device, which allows students to easily conceal their vaping habit.
  • "Black workers in right-to-work [RTW] states tend to have lower wages than in Missouri and other non-RTW states." By Valerie Wilson and Julia Wolfe, EPI Fact Sheet, May 15, 2018, pp. 1-4.
    Points out the negative association between wages and right-to-work laws, which affect both union and non-union workers.
    Related document at:
  • "State employees: Turnover rises in hot economy." By Jackie Benton and Bruce Wright. Fiscal Notes, May 2018, pp. 6-10.
    Notes Texas state government currently has the highest state employee turnover rate of the last five years, 18.6 percent in fiscal year 2017. Highlights the turnover crisis in correctional officers at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
  • "Transportation infrastructure: Keeping Texas moving." By Kevin McPherson, Jessica Donald and Bruce Wright. Fiscal Notes, May 2018, pp. 1, 3-5.
    Identifies Texas transportation funding needs for roads and highways, freight rail, transit, aviation, and ports through 2040, according to TxDOT's Texas Transportation Plan 2040. Report at:
  • "How tariffs hurt Texas companies and why they must be used cautiously." By Kevin Brady. Houston Business Journal, May 10, 2018, pp. 34.
    Discusses how increased tariffs on China are affecting Texas companies.
  • "Degenerate federalism." By Chris Pope. National Review, May 28, 2018, pp. 29-30, 32.
    Argues the major responsibilities of state governments, such as education and Medicaid, have become opportunities to claim federal funds and therefore shift costs to federal taxpayers. Proposes transforming matching fund programs to block grants to eliminate the incentive for states to inflate their expenditures.
  • "The wages of death." By Wesley Smith. National Review, May 28, 2018, pp. 16-18.
    Criticizes the expansion of assisted suicide and euthanasia laws. Claims that restrictions and strict guidelines do not guard against abuse.
  • "Power of the prosecutor." By Maya Wiley. New Republic, June 2018, pp. 9-10.
    Examines how prosecutors are reforming the criminal justice system from within instead of through the traditional legislative route. Discusses the sweeping drug policy reforms recently implemented in Philadelphia and former Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins' establishment of the country's first Conviction Integrity Unit.
  • "The rise of the victims' rights movement." By Jill Lepore.New Yorker , May 21, 2018, pp. 48-50, 52-55.
    Examines the victims'-rights movement and its impact on the criminal justice system. Reviews the laws and court cases that have increased victims' input in criminal trials.
  • "How the politicization of history education led to Michigan's fall." By Gordon P. Andrews and Wilson J. Warren. Phi Delta Kappan, May 2018, pp. 19-24.
    Argues the decline in Michigan's public education system occurred in part due to power shifting from educators to a few state officials with limited or no experience in schools.
  • "When cancer was conquerable." By Sarah Constantin. Reason, June 2018, pp. 34-38.
    Proposes bringing back the sense of urgency found in early cancer chemotherapy research by streamlining regulatory processes, getting new drugs to doctors faster, and basing FDA approval on a drug's safety rather than its efficacy.
  • "How earthquakes are induced." By Thibault Candela, et al. Science, May 11, 2018, pp. 598-600.
    Considers conditions in the Earth's crust that determine whether and how human activities can induce earthquakes.
  • "Oversold?" By Sean Price. Texas Medicine, May 2018, pp. 32-34.
    Explores progress and setbacks in the first few months of legally dispensing cannabis oil to Texans with epilepsy.

The Legislative Reference Library compiles this weekly annotated list of Current Articles of interest to the legislative community. Professional librarians review and select articles from more than 300 periodicals, including public policy journals, specialized industry periodicals, news magazines, and state agency publications. Members of the Texas legislative community may request articles using our online form.



Interim Hearings – Week of May 28

Today's Committee Meetings on the LRL website is a calendar of interim committee hearings with links to agendas. Below are resources related to upcoming Interim Hearings.


May 29

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Aging

Topic: Brain health


May 31

Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations (Pharr) 

Charge: Housing affordability, effect of local government

Resource Highlight: Deceptive Trade Practices Act Collection

On May 15, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that his office filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) involving the company’s prescription opioids. 


Addressing the marketing of prescription opioid drugs is just one instance of the DTPA at work...and the Legislative Reference Library has a wealth of information about the Act. The 63rd Texas Legislature, Regular Session, created the DTPA in 1973 through HB 417 and its companion bill SB 75. In 2004, Joe K. Longley and Philip K. Maxwell donated documents to the LRL relating to the DTPA and its private remedies amendments.


In 2016, the DTPA collection was enhanced by the addition of the Mark L. Kincaid Papers. Kincaid, who was known as "The Policyholder's Lawyer," had a reputation for crafting public policy for the protection of insurance policy holders who had little or no ability to prevent abuses in the claims process. His records showcase efforts to curb tort reform and document the intent behind key legislation, and to monitor and influence changes to the DTPA.


Explore the LRL's Deceptive Trade Practices Act collection to view legislative drafts, transcripts of hearings, correspondence, news clippings, talking points, and other commentary, to gain a better understanding of the Act's legislative intent and history. You can search for specific keywords, types of documents, and by date ranges and/or bill numbers, or you can simply browse the collection.


Current Articles & Research Resources, May 17

In this weekly post, we feature helpful research tools and recent articles of interest to the legislative community. 

  • Examine data sets and maps related to wind turbines in the U.S.  (The United States Wind Turbine Database, accessed May 16, 2018)
  • Explore the comprehensive online source for information about voting in Texas. (Texas Secretary of State, accessed May 16, 2018)
  • Find out about air quality in your area. (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, accessed May 16, 2018)
  • Read about President Trump's federal court nominations during the first year of his term. (Congressional Research Service, May 2, 2018)

Members of the Texas legislative community may request the articles below here or by calling 512-463-1252.

  • "Oil and gas rebound powers GDP growth." By Daniel Salazar. Austin Business Journal, May 11, 2018, p. 12.
    Reports strong mining and construction sectors fueled Texas' gross domestic product [GDP] growth in the fourth quarter of 2017, leading all other states. Estimates GDP will grow about 4.2 percent in 2018, but warns policy missteps in international trade could hurt export-dependent states. Related information at:
  • "Helping manufacturing-intensive communities: What works?" By Timothy J. Bartik. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 9, 2018, pp. 1-17.
    Discusses economic development in communities with above-average shares of manufacturing. Outlines three cost-effective ways to promote manufacturing job growth, including expansion of services to small and medium-sized manufacturers, infrastructure and land investment, and public spending on job training programs.
  • "In Kentucky, a test of Medicaid rules." By Henry Gass. Christian Science Monitor, May 7, 2018, pp. 18-20.
    Examines the procedures and rules Kentucky is using to re-design its Medicaid program and become the first state to enforce work and community engagement requirements on a portion of Medicaid recipients. Related information at:
  • "A university in Texas promised scholarships to 50 Nepali students. Then it revoked the offer." Chronicle of Higher Education, May 11, 2018, pp. A20-A21.
    Highlights the recent "oversight" that caused the University of Texas at Tyler to rescind offers to 50 Nepali students of full-ride scholarships the university could not afford.
  • "Efforts to stop human trafficking." By Beth A. Williams. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Spring 2018, pp. 623-629.
    Explains the federal government's approach to stopping human trafficking. Describes efforts across the country to apprehend and prosecute human traffickers and provide assistance to human trafficking victims.
  • "Renewable power cos. see potential home in Houston." Houston Business Journal, May 3, 2018, pp. 18-19.
    Examines Houston's future as the home of leading companies in the renewable energy industry.
  • "EIA's estimates for Texas crude oil production account for incomplete state data." By Emily Geary and Jess Biercevicz. Internet Resource, March 26, 2018, pp. 1-2.
    Reports that there are differences in the data published by the United States Energy Information Administration and by the Texas Railroad Commission for crude oil and lease condensate production, which indicates differences in the treatment of incomplete and lagged data. Includes an example of recently reported data and explains why this may occur. Related information at:
  • "Hurricane Harvey: The experiences of immigrants living in the Texas Gulf Coast." By Bryan Wu, et al. Internet Resource, March 2018, pp. 1-12.
    Surveys immigrants living in the Texas Gulf Coast region to better understand their experiences with Hurricane Harvey and improve ongoing and future disaster recovery efforts among this particularly vulnerable population.
  • "Rating teacher-preparation programs: Can value-added make useful distinctions?" By Paul T. von Hippel and Laura Bellows. Internet Resource, Summer 2018, pp. 1-8.
    Examines the effectiveness of ranking teacher-preparation programs based on teachers' "value-added" to student testing scores. Re-analyzes prior evaluations of teacher-preparation programs from six locations, including Texas.
  • "Weather alert: Move forward on clean energy." By Jim Murphy. Natural Resources & Environment, Spring 2018, pp. 52-53.
    Observes that weather-related disasters around the world are becoming more common and more severe. Suggests that relying more on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar provides for a more stable and secure energy supply.
  • "Emergency preparedness: Resiliency is key to effective disaster planning." By Sarah A. Deslauriers. Opflow, March 2018, pp. 26-28.
    Argues that water utilities need to develop contingency plans to prepare for and respond to extreme weather events that could negatively impact operations and reliable service. Refers to a resource from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Related information at:
  • "Powering into the future." By Glen Andersen. State Legislatures, May 2018, pp. 24-25, 27.
    Considers the costs and challenges involved in modernizing existing electricity distribution infrastructure to accommodate technological advancements and a rapidly changing energy market.
  • "This jobs program just might get people back to work." By Sophie Quinton. Stateline (Pew Charitable Trusts), May 9, 2018, pp. 1-6.
    Discusses new federal law, part of the Bipartisan Budget Act, which will require states participating in the reemployment grant program to create evidence-based programs that improve employment outcomes of people who receive unemployment compensation and reduce their time receiving benefits. Highlights Nevada's successful model. Related information at: and
  • "Finding ways to save new moms." By Sean Price. Texas Medicine, May 2018, pp. 36-38.
    Explores work by the Texas Medical Association's Maternal Health Congress, the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force, and the Texas Department of State Health Services, to understand better Texas' maternal mortality rate and identify proposed actions.
  • "The interview: The map master Michael Li." By Michael Barajas. Texas Observer, April/May 2018, pp. 10-11.
    Interviews Michael Li, Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and author of the Texas Redistricting and Election Law blog, on the upcoming Texas redistricting case to be heard by the United States Supreme Court. Provides background information on redistricting litigation in Texas.

The Legislative Reference Library compiles this weekly annotated list of Current Articles of interest to the legislative community. Professional librarians review and select articles from more than 300 periodicals, including public policy journals, specialized industry periodicals, news magazines, and state agency publications. Members of the Texas legislative community may request articles using our online form.

New & Noteworthy List for May 2018

The Library is continually adding new books to its collection. Below are the six titles from our May 2018 New & Noteworthy list

Check out and delivery of New & Noteworthy titles is available to legislative staff in Capitol and District offices. To arrange check out and delivery of any of these items, you can submit an online request through the New & Noteworthy page on our website, contact the library at 512-463-1252, or use our PDF request form.


1. God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State
By Lawrence Wright
Presents a portrait of Texas through a collection of observations, personal experiences, and reflections by the author. Explores the history, culture, and politics of Texas, acknowledging its virtues as well as its many contradictions. Recounts numerous stories about Texas' colorful history, including some of the more divisive legislative battles fought inside the Capitol. Provides intimate portraits of notable Texans from both political and artistic worlds. Considers the author's love for the state alongside his concerns about its political trajectory.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. 349 pages.
917.6404 W933G 2018



2. We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights
By Adam Winkler
Chronicles the history of the corporate rights movement from the pre-Revolutionary period to the recent Supreme Court decisions in the Citizens United and Hobby Lobby cases. Argues these cases were not an aberration but rather marked the culmination of a 200-year campaign by corporations to obtain the same constitutional rights as individual citizens and to limit regulation of big business. Profiles Supreme Court justices, politicians, and activists who played significant roles in the movement, including Daniel Webster, Roscoe Conkling, Alexander Hamilton, Theodore Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, and Louis Brandeis.
Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2018. 403 pages.
346.73 W729W 2018



3. Where There's Smoke: The Environmental Science, Public Policy, and Politics of Marijuana
By Char Miller, ed.
Discusses the impact that the legal and illegal marijuana industries are having on the environment, immigrants, crime, and the economy. Reviews how cannabis legalization efforts in Oregon, Colorado, California, and Washington, D.C., have benefited them economically. Considers whether the legalization of marijuana in these states is a precursor to marijuana being removed as a Schedule I drug and allowing for federal legalization.
University Press of Kansas, 2018. 221 pages.
362.29 M612W 2018



4. Drones Across America: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Regulation and State Laws
By Dr. Sarah Nilsson
Analyzes the ever-changing legal and regulatory framework surrounding drones and drone technology in the United States, from Federal Aviation Administration regulations to state drone laws, and best practices for operation of commercial, government, and recreational drones in different airspaces. Defines terms used in the regulation of drones: unmanned aircraft (UA), unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and the subcategories of micro UAS, small UAS, and large UAS.
American Bar Association, Air & Space Law Forum, 2017. 349 pages.
343.7309 N599D 2017



5. Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
By James Forman Jr.
Provides historical perspective on how drug policies, gun control, policing, and sentencing became increasingly punitive starting in the mid-1970s, with the impact falling hardest on the African American community—and why many members of this community supported these harsher law enforcement tactics. Notes that despite recent reform efforts, particularly to decriminalize marijuana possession, people of color continue to be overrepresented in prison populations. Calls for a criminal justice system that seeks accountability rather than vengeance.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. 306 pages.
364.973089 F765L 2018



6. Sources of Revenue: A History of State Taxes and Fees in Texas, 1972 to 2016
By Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Fiscal Management Division
Provides a guide to the history and status of Texas state revenue sources, identifying and tracking legislative changes affecting state tax and fee revenues from 1972 through 2016. Profiles each tax and fee and sets forth legal citations, revenue history, rates, and bases.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Fiscal Management Division, 2017. 252 pages.
Online at:
C2600.8 SO85 2017



7. Spanish Water, Anglo Water: Early Development in San Antonio
By Charles R. Porter Jr.
Discusses the early development of water rights in San Antonio. Notes that the principles of water rights established in Spanish colonial land grants comprise the theoretical basis of important portions of Texas water laws still in effect today. Analyzes management and sharing of water under Spanish control from 1718 to 1836 and under Anglo control from 1836 to 1902. Attributes post-1840 and current challenges in resolving water rights disputes, as well as questionable judicial rulings, to the blending of Spanish civil law and English common law.
Texas A & M University Press, 2009. 181 pages.
333.91009764 P833S 2009

Interim Hearings – Week of May 21

Today's Committee Meetings on the LRL website is a calendar of interim committee hearings with links to agendas. Below are resources related to upcoming Interim Hearings.


May 22

House Committee on Urban Affairs (Houston) 

Topic: Short- and long-term housing needs and related issues resulting from Hurricane Harvey and associated flooding 

  • Action Plans and Amendments (State of Texas Plan for Disaster Recovery: Hurricane Harvey  Round 1, State of Texas Plan for Disaster Recovery: Hurricane Harvey, and amendments), Texas General Land Office, Community Development & Revitalization Program, 2018
  • Recovery Tracker, The Governor's Commission to Rebuild Texas, Updated May 4, 2018
  • Interim Hearings – Week of January 15, House Committee on Urban Affairs, January 18, Legislative Reference Library, January 8, 2018


Senate Committee on Higher Education

Charge: Funding models


Charge: Veterans health

Charge: State-delivered federal services


May 23

House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence

Charge 4: Prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of defense counsel

Charge 5: Legal framework surrounding sexual assault protections


House Committee on Natural Resources (Brady) 

Specific issue related to charge 3: Groundwater policy in Texas; g. emerging issues in groundwater and surface water interaction, in particular in areas of increasing competition for scarce resources


Staff presentation and public testimony (links to Sunset Review Documents for 2018-2019 Review Cycle, 86th Legislative Session):


May 24

House Committee on Appropriations

Charge: Use of federal funds in response to Hurricane Harvey, federal funds and investment in infrastructure projects to reduce impact of future natural disasters

Charge: Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP)

Charge: Allocation of municipal solid waste disposal fee between Waste Management Account 0549 and Solid Waste Disposal Fee Account 5000

Charge: Effectiveness of cost-recovery model as a method of finance for programs and organizations across state government



House Committee on House Administration

Topic: Select committee budgets



House Committee on Public Education

Charge: Research-based options for evaluating student achievement beyond standardized test scores; scope of the current Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS); Student Success Initiative testing

Charge: Public school programs for students with disabilities, with an emphasis on programs specializing in autism, dysgraphia, and dyslexia; implementation and funding of pilot programs authorized in HB 21 and TEA's compliance with SB 160, which prohibits special education student caps



Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health & Human Services Transition

Invited testimony


Staff presentation and public testimony (links to Sunset Review Documents for 2018-2019 Review Cycle, 86th Legislative Session):

Commission decisions


Current Articles & Research Resources, May 10

In this weekly post, we feature helpful research tools and recent articles of interest to the legislative community. 

  • Catch up on Amendments to the Texas Constitution Since 1876. (Texas Legislative Council, May 2018)
  • Track fiscal trends in all 50 states. (Pew Charitable Trusts, May 2, 2018)
  • Read about grants released by the federal government to the states to combat the opioid crisis. (Council of State Governments, May 2, 2018)
  • Review active shooter incidents of 2016 and 2017. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, April 2018)

Members of the Texas legislative community may request the articles below here or by calling 512-463-1252.

  • "Student-body president impeached at Texas State following protests." By Katherine Mangan. Chronicle of Higher Education, April 27, 2018, p. A31.
    Examines the recent impeachment of the Texas State University student body president. Highlights background events on campus including offensive fliers from white-supremacist groups, a student newspaper editorial on white privilege, and steps the administration is taking to improve the situation.
  • "The hand that blocks the cradle." By Liz Hayes. Church & State, May 2018, pp. 10-12.
    Discusses legislative efforts in several states to create religious exemptions for taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies. Explains these bills are primarily crafted to discriminate against same-sex parents, but could also allow agencies to turn away couples who are interfaith, interracial, previously divorced, or who have different religious beliefs from any given agency.
  • "More carbon, less nutrition." By Elvina Nawaguna. CQ Weekly, April 23, 2018, pp. 19-21.
    Discusses the effects of rising carbon emissions on the quality of food crops. Argues increased carbon in the atmosphere is depleting the nutritional value of crops and putting low-income populations at risk for nutritional issues.
  • "Striking teachers: Pedagogic protest." Economist, May 5th-11th, 2018, p. 25.
    Reports more teacher strikes are likely as states continue to cut taxes and education spending, noting North Carolina could be the next state to face a strike. Explains the strikes are galvanizing public-sector workers in states where Democrats hope to make gains in mid-term elections and posing trouble for Republicans in states with teacher unrest.
  • "Trade and American businesses: Chain reaction." Economist, May 5th-11th, 2018, pp. 62-63.
    Examines how the Trump administration's efforts to impose tariffs on China could disrupt American firms' global supply chains. Includes chart showing the impact of proposed tariffs on certain products.
  • "Bitcoin and beyond: Alternative currencies, or history's biggest bubble?" By TJ Costello and Bruce Wright. Fiscal Notes, April 2018, pp. 6-10.
    Discusses the basics of bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Looks at the demand, security issues, and tax implications of bitcoin.
  • "The Second Amendment and a well-regulated firearms environment." By Lawrence O. Gostin and Sarah Duranske. JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), May 1, 2018, pp. 1763-1764.
    Argues that, given the high burden of firearm deaths, the President should declare a public health emergency and convene an expert, nonpartisan blue-ribbon panel to propose an evidence-based and constitutionally permissible legislative agenda. Lists six elements that should be included in a comprehensive public health strategy to address gun violence.
  • "Fixing flood insurance." By Leonard Shabman. Milken Institute Review, Second Quarter 2018, pp. 68-78.
    Describes how the oversight of flood insurance was entrusted to the federal government, resulting in the National Flood Insurance Program. Discusses possible program reforms being considered in Congress after the severe flooding from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in 2017 revealed its shortcomings.
  • "Welfare reform 2.0." By Robert Verbruggen. National Review, May 14, 2018, pp. 29-30.
    Presents the pros and cons of welfare reform proposals currently before Congress in which food stamp recipients would have more specific work requirements. Discusses whether these could be applied to other safety-net programs.
  • "Digital vigilantes." By Nicholas Schmidle. New Yorker, May 7, 2018, pp. 30-34, 36-37.
    Discusses the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that made it illegal for companies to steal back or "actively defend" hacked information. Highlights the proposed Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act, which would legalize some activities that were prohibited by the earlier act.
  • "Drones on the border: Efficacy and privacy implications." By David Bier and Matthew Feeney. Policy Brief (CATO Institute), May 1, 2018, pp. 1-10.
    Reports the United States Customs and Border Protection's drone program has failed to live up to expectations — accounting for only 0.5 percent of apprehensions at a cost of $32,000 per arrest. Expresses concerns that the drones allow for government surveillance with minimal oversight and without warrants.
  • "A different grid perspective: Like a river." By Charles Bayless. Public Utilities Fortnightly, April 2018, pp. 68-72.
    Argues for an energy grid that is an interconnected system which will allow energy "to be coordinated and used across wide areas, increasing their value through increased optionality." Discusses reserves, balancing the difference between generation and loads, capacity factor, and cost.
  • "This new federal law will change foster care as we know it." By Teresa Wiltz. Stateline (Pew Charitable Trusts), May 2, 2018, pp. 1-5.
    Discusses a new law, part of the Bipartisan Budget Act, that changes the rules on how states can spend federal child welfare funds on foster care and child abuse prevention. Explains the law prioritizes keeping families together, limiting placements in institutional settings such as group homes. Related information at:

The Legislative Reference Library compiles this weekly annotated list of Current Articles of interest to the legislative community. Professional librarians review and select articles from more than 300 periodicals, including public policy journals, specialized industry periodicals, news magazines, and state agency publications. Members of the Texas legislative community may request articles using our online form.

Legislative Foundations for the Capitol

Next week will mark the 130th anniversary since the State of Texas dedicated our current Capitol building. From May 14–19, 1888, more than 20,000 people came from all over the state to participate in festivities such as drill team competitions, military displays, band concerts, and fireworks. The events culminated with the official dedication on May 16, when Sen. Temple Houston (the youngest son of Sam Houston) accepted the building on the state's behalf.


The Constitution of 1876—which is still our constitution today—made financial provision for the new building in Article XVI, Sec. 57, authorizing the use of 3 million acres of public land in the Texas Panhandle to pay for the new capitol and calling on the Legislature to pass the necessary bills to begin the project. (That land would become XIT Ranch.)


In 1879, the 16th Legislature passed SB 21, 16R, "Relating to providing for designating, surveying and sale of three million and fifty thousand acres of the unappropriated public domain for the erection of a new state capitol and other necessary public buildings at the seat of government, and to providing a fund to pay for surveying said lands" and SB 153, 16R, "Relating to providing for building a new state capitol."


To facilitate the passage of Capitol-related bills, several committees were formed. During construction, committees were charged with the "programme" for the laying of the corner stone (1885) and considering the "new Capitol, grounds and cost of furnishing" (1887).


On May 2, 1888, HB 38, 20(1) was approved, "an Act to provide for the reception of the new State Capitol Building." They accepted the Capitol—contingent on the completion of all remaining work—and on May 10, authorized the moving of furniture from the temporary Capitol to the new one. Most offices were established in their new spaces by May 11, and the Legislature convened in its new chambers for the first time.


After the dedication, the work continued: in 1889, committees were formed to investigate the cost of running a capitol elevator, the acoustics of the House chamber, and Capitol grounds considerations like placing "a neat and substantial iron fence around said grounds" and "the cost of properly wiring the Capitol building, with all necessary fixtures, with the view of placing electric lights in said building." Fortunately, they did not use all of the money from the sale of the XIT land to construct the building, so they had some funding left over to address these and other budgetary needs—allocating that money was the reason for the 20th Legislature's special session in April–May 1888.


The work continues today—since 1853, more than 40 committees have been charged with Capitol-related topics. Modernizing the building, repairing after 1983 fire damage, and maintaining the grounds has kept the Legislature (and of course, the State Preservation Board) busy over the years. But, Sen. Houston said it well:


It would seem that here glitters a structure that shall stand as a sentinel of eternity, to gaze upon passing ages, and, surviving, shall mourn as each separate star expires. ~Sen. Temple Houston, Capitol Dedication Speech, May 16, 1888

See the Handbook of Texas' entry on the Capitol to learn more about the process of designing and constructing the building. 



Top: [Capitol Construction], photograph, 1887~; ( accessed May 4, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Bottom: [Cavalry Troops Marching in Texas Capitol Building Dedication Parade], photograph, April 28, 1888; ( accessed May 4, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Cover: [Construction of Capitol Dome], photograph, 1888; ( accessed May 4, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.


Sources consulted:

"Capitol," Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association

"Capitol History," Texas State Preservation Board

A Nobler Edifice: The Texas State Capitol, 1888-1988An Exhibit, the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building. Texas State Library, 1988.

The Texas Capitol: A History of the Lone Star Statehouse. Texas Legislative Council, 2016.

Interim Hearings – Week of May 14

Today's Committee Meetings on the LRL website is a calendar of interim committee hearings with links to agendas. Below are resources related to upcoming Interim Hearings.


May 15

House Committees on Defense & Veterans' Affairs and Economic & Small Business Development (10:00 AM, Joint Hearing)

Charge: Economic impact of the aviation, aerospace & defense manufacturing industry in Texas; military veterans transitioning into the workforce; manufacturing industry in the state


House Committee on Defense & Veterans' Affairs (1:00 PM) 

Charge: Homeless veterans in Texas 

Charge: Monitor agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature; implementation of SB 27, 85th Legislature, R.S., and the related Veterans Mental Health Program, as well as SB 578, 85th Legislature, R.S., and the development of the Veterans Suicide Prevention Action Plan


House Committee on Economic & Small Business Development (1:00 PM) 

Charge 1: Hurricane Harvey's economic and workforce impact on the state and private sector; job training resources

Charge 6: Monitoring agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature



House Select Committee on Opioids & Substance Abuse

Charge: Implementation of legislation passed by the 85th Legislature regarding Prescription Monitoring Program; prescribing of addictive drugs; overutilization and diversion of addictive prescriptions


Senate Committee on Business & Commerce


May 16

House Select Committee on Cybersecurity (San Antonio)  

Topic: Cybersecurity at the local, state, and federal levels including risks, incidents, preventative measures, and advancements in detection

Topic: Cybersecurity education, curriculum, training, workforce, and outreach to increase interest in the technology career field


May 17

House Committee on Public Health

Charge: Children with mental illness, including trauma- and grief-informed practices; school- or community-based mental health services to children and role of Texas Education Agency and regional Education Service Centers

Current Articles & Research Resources, May 3

In this weekly post, we feature helpful research tools and recent articles of interest to the legislative community. 

  • Consider maps and data visualizations related to urban issues. (Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, accessed May 2, 2018)
  • Explore the U.S. Reports collection of U.S. Supreme Court decisions. (Library of Congress, accessed May 2, 2018)
  • Review the Traffic Safety Culture Index for recent insights into driver, cyclist, and pedestrian behaviors. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, March 2018)
  • Read about vectorborne diseases and their prevalence and consequences in the United States. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 1, 2018)

Members of the Texas legislative community may request the articles below here or by calling 512-463-1252.

  • "What if the problem isn't the president, it's the presidency?" By John Dickerson. Atlantic Monthly, May 2018, pp. 46-52, 55-63.
    Argues that the role and duties of the United States President have gotten out of control and beyond the capabilities of one person. Discusses the historical evolution of the president's role and offers specific suggestions for reforming the office.
  • "A flood of threats to water systems." By Jacqueline Toth. CQ Weekly, April 23, 2018, pp. 22-24.
    Addresses how extreme weather events affect water utilities and their planning efforts. Discusses Houston's vulnerability and the city's current drought conditions in the wake of catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
  • "Safe, legal and scarce." By Sandhya Raman. CQ Weekly, April 9, 2018, pp. 26-29.
    Examines state efforts to regulate abortion clinics. Profiles states with stringent regulations that result in the closing of some clinics.
  • "Assisted dying: Alohas and goodbyes." Economist, April 28th-May 4th, 2018, p. 28.
    Reports Hawaii is the seventh American jurisdiction to approve an assisted-dying law, modeled on Oregon legislation passed in 1997. Related information at:
  • "Innovative population health model associated with reduced emergency department use and inpatient hospitalization." By Donald Wesson, et al. Health Affairs, April 2018, pp. 543-550.
    Describes a case study of Baylor Scott & White's partnership with the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department to create a primary care clinic in a city recreation center. Details how improved access to health care, alongside exercise facilities, cooking demonstrations, and other wellness resources, was associated with lower emergency department and inpatient services usage by the center's patients.
  • "Reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program." By Howard Kunreuther. Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2018, pp. 37-51.
    Suggests ways to improve the National Flood Insurance Program. Considers how areas subject to floods and hurricanes are prepared for flooding events.
  • "State-level community benefit regulation and nonprofit hospitals' provision of community benefits." By Simone R. Singh, et al. Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law, April 2018, pp. 229-269 (Note Length).
    Examines how to design regulations that will encourage nonprofit hospitals to provide enough community benefits to justify their tax exemptions and meet policy makers' goals.
  • "Let me tell you how it will be: Tougher property tax exemptions." By Mark R. Adams. Journal of MultiState Taxation and Incentives, May 2018, pp. 28-35.
    Describes the financial impact of property tax exemptions held by nonprofits, including hospitals, on municipalities. Discusses state legislative initiatives in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Michigan to amend legal structures around nonprofit charitable organizations and property tax exemptions.
  • "Texas surplus lines insurance: Reflections on attitudes, from the capitol to the courthouse." By Andrew Kunau. Journal of Texas Insurance Law, Spring 2018, pp. 4-11.
    Highlights legislative changes to the insurance surplus lines market through passage of HB2492 and HB1559, 85th Legislature, R.S. Considers how the 2016 Texas Supreme Court case, Seger v. Yorkshire Ins. Co. Ltd., influenced the recent legislative activity.
  • "Public pension plan investment return assumptions (2018)." National Association of State Retirement Administrators, Updated February 2018, pp. 1-8.
    Describes how investment return assumptions are established and evaluated in public pension funds, compared with public funds' actual investment experience. Includes Texas County & District, Texas ERS, Texas LECOS, and Texas Municipal in the appendix.
  • "Water and air quality: An opportunity for states." By Thomas Salzer. Natural Resources & Environment, Spring 2018, pp. 57-59.
    Considers the challenges local and state governments face when environmental issues and disasters strike close to home. Discusses the federal government's role in such disasters and uses the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan as an example.
  • "Lone stars." By Ashley Powers. New Yorker, April 30, 2018, pp. 30-35.
    Examines the constitutional sheriffs movement and its belief that the sheriff has the final say on a law's constitutionality in his county. Traces the movement from its 1970s beginning with William Potter Gale and the Posse Comitatus movement and highlights activities of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA). See:
  • "Distribution: Identify lead plumbing sources to protect public health." By Darren Lytle, et al. Opflow, March 2018, pp. 16-20.
    Recommends that water utilities should consider using diagnostic sampling to help identify lead sources in drinking water. Discusses different types of sampling methods. Related information at: and
  • "Gerrymandering is out of control." By Eric Boehm. Reason, May 2018, pp. 26-34.
    Focuses on the current state of gerrymandered election districts and explains the various models that have been developed to draw more compact districts with minimum partisan intent. Suggests a new computer algorithm model may offer the best solution.
  • "American epidemic." By Melinda Wenner Moyer. Scientific American, May 2018, pp. 44-47, 50-54, 57.
    Explores the resurgence of infectious diseases in America's urban areas. Suggests that economic disparities and substance abuse drive infection rates higher.
  • "E-Verify immigrant job screening is a game of chicken, politics and state laws." By Tim Henderson. Stateline (Pew Charitable Trusts), April 27, 2018, pp. 1-6.
    Finds that E-Verify, a critical tool for preventing the illegal hiring of undocumented workers, has not been used uniformly even in the states that require its use.
  • "Austin Energy celebrates community solar project." Texas Public Power, April 2018, p. 8.
    Highlights Austin Energy's La Loma Community Solar Farm, "the largest community solar farm in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas [ERCOT] region."
  • "The intersection of mental illness and the criminal justice system." By Sarah Roland. Voice for the Defense, April 2018, pp. 27-34.
    Discusses the challenges of representing a mentally ill person. Explains the shortcomings in the current criminal justice system that arise as a defense attorney for a mentally ill defendant navigates the system.

The Legislative Reference Library compiles this weekly annotated list of Current Articles of interest to the legislative community. Professional librarians review and select articles from more than 300 periodicals, including public policy journals, specialized industry periodicals, news magazines, and state agency publications. Members of the Texas legislative community may request articles using our online form.

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