The Arena

Medicaid: To Expand Or Not To Expand
Posted February 10, 2021 by Phillip Sharp

In recent years, a proposed solution to “fix” healthcare has been to expand Medicaid. Would expanding Medicaid truly fix the problems associated with America’s healthcare industry? Would it truly expand access to healthcare services for uninsured or underinsured? Or should Texas just say no to expanding Medicaid?

Texas has taken a serious stance against Medicaid expansion since Gov. Rick Perry decided not to expand Medicaid with Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2012. Governor Perry took this stance to avoid what many see as a failed system that would take away healthcare choice. According to some, this has led Texas to, “the biggest coverage gap in the country, with an estimated 761,000 resident’s ineligible for Medicaid and also ineligible for premium subsidies to offset the cost of private coverage in the exchange.” For a state of 28.70 million, 761,000 residents represents just 2.65% of the population that resides in this coverage gap.

What are the financial consequences of this gap and how is Texas currently resolving the issue?

In Texas, “adults without minor children are ineligible for Medicaid regardless of how low their income is.” (Norris, ...

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Carrying The Torch On Criminal Justice Reform
Posted February 04, 2021 by Matt Liles

There has been a lot of speculation that due to COVID, the budget shortfall, and a variety of other factors this year may see a somewhat subdued legislative session with fewer bills than usual crossing the finish line. Be that as it may, there were a number of excellent bills in the criminal justice reform arena which came close to the finish line last session only to fall ever so short. We encourage legislators to pick up the torch and take those issues the distance this year. Following are a few specific suggestions.

During a press conference about criminal justice priorities on January 21, Governor Abbott emphasized his desire to enact bail reform through the Legislature this spring; he later named the issue one of his five emergency items for the 87th Legislature. Previously, lawmakers in the 2019 legislative session fell just short of passing such legislation despite multiple bills and involvement from the Governor’s office. Bail reform was not the only criminal justice issue shelved: liberty-minded reforms concerning automatic driver’s license suspension for drug convictions and the decriminalization of low-level marijuana possession were also left on the table two ...

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On The Budget: Cautious Optimism But Leave The Rainy Day Fund Alone
Posted February 03, 2021 by Melissa Ndip

The 87th Session of the Texas Legislature began this January with the usual hot topic of the budget. A heightened concern this year was how much the deficit (or budget shortfall) would be, since COVID-19 ravaged the economy last year and significantly reduced Texas’ tax revenue.

When the Texas Comptroller released the Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) in January, there was slight relief since the projected budget shortfall of $946 million was far less than the expectations as stated last year. The BRE also provides the fiscal outlook for the next biennium. What were the projections? “It depends” seems to be the simple answer. Mostly it depends on how soon people can return to work and normal shopping activities, as well as the final budget passed by Legislators in this Session. The appropriations legislators make, and the general revenue generated from heightened economic activity will be the main determinants of how well Texas is set for the future.

Senate Bill 1 (S.B.1) is the general budget bill that was filed January 21st. It will go through a series of committee hearings and markups to reflect changes deemed necessary. S.B.1 currently meets ...

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Texas Economy Needs Keystone XL
Posted by Garrett Yarbrough

On January 20 we inaugurated Joe Biden as the new president of the United States. On that day, the newly minted president signed an executive order revoking the permit for the Keystone Pipeline. The Keystone Pipeline is roughly a 1,700-mile-long pipeline (the Texas portion is around 400 miles long) in a country covered with 150,000 miles of such pipelines. Given that the pipeline stretches from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast with 400 miles on Texas soil, the unilateral decision to cancel the pipeline will have significant economic effects here in the Lone Star State.

The Keystone Pipeline was estimated to support around 11,000 jobs (Mostly in temporary construction) during 2021 alone, while supporting over 42,000 US jobs overall. Many of these jobs would be in Texas and generate $1.6 billion in gross wages. According to an estimate by the Perryman Group, it would contribute almost 2 billion to the Texas economy and generate around $1 billion in property tax revenue in Texas during its operational life. Additionally, the pipeline would introduce competition to Mexican and Venezuelan oil producers who typically supply Texas refineries, which ...

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Election Integrity Is Essential
Posted February 02, 2021 by Spencer Jones

In his State of The State address yesterday, Governor Abbott declared election integrity as one of his priority items for the 87th Legislature. We fully support election integrity and are pleased that the governor has declared it an emergency item for the legislature to act on.

The importance of this issue must be considered through both a historical lens and against the backdrop of current events. The aftershocks of the November 2020 elections are still being felt, with large swathes of Americans believing that our electoral system has been compromised.  Whether they are right or wrong in their concerns is a significant question, but even more pressing is the fact that our electoral system is in doubt at all.

Close elections have been around since our electoral system was first devised and they will always be a recurring feature of a healthy democracy. John Adams famously won the presidential election of 1796 by a mere 3 electoral votes, and his Vice President was even from the opposing party; a unique outcome in US history. Despite the close outcome of that election at a time when our nation was brand ...

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Now More Than Ever, Texans Need School Choice
Posted February 01, 2021 by Ryan Penney

Parents of schoolchildren across Texas have experienced total upheaval since the COVID-19 lockdowns began in March last year. Since then, not much has improved. As the 87th Legislature prepares to consider legislation, we urge members of both chambers to pass a strong education reform bill enacting real school choice for all Texans.

With schools across Texas modifying their classrooms to meet lockdown regulations, droves of parents have abandoned traditional neighborhood public schools and chosen alternative means of educating their children. In the wake of mass restructuring of the economy and its resulting impact on the ability to both work and manage their childrens’ education, parents are giving historic levels of consideration to more flexible types of schooling.

Among the most popular alternatives have been homeschooling, private school (for those who can afford it), learning pods, and charter schools; all of which must fight against special interest groups simply to exist.

Charter schools often provide a quality public education option apart from the traditional public school experience and offer more flexibility in large part because they are smaller and more easily adaptable to change. Because of this flexibility, charter ...

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Open The Texas Economy By Reducing Unnecessary Regulation
Posted January 27, 2021 by Rebecca Willis

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the government’s disastrous response which has put the brakes on what was likely the greatest economy the world has ever known, has wreaked havoc around the world and across the United States. Texas has not been spared. Now more than ever, Texas needs to pull out all the stops to reopen the economy and let people get back to work. Conveniently, the Texas Legislature is now in session and fully empowered to do just that.

For a state that charts its own path and refuses to be bossed around, Texas has failed at keeping the marketplace open and free for those wanting to earn an honest living. Ranking among the top five most regulated states in the nation, Texas has over 263,000 regulatory restrictions currently in place.

Considering the occupations regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), it may appear that threats to your personal safety come in very nondescript and unassuming ways.  But fear not, the government will protect you! If the government didn’t tell us, how else would we know our lives are endangered by the dietitian, hearing aid fitter, or ...

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Texas Action Seeks Legislative Director
Posted December 30, 2020 by Nathanael Ferguson


We are looking for a Legislative Director for the 87th Session of the Texas Legislature. This is a full time position to run concurrent with the regular session of the Texas Legislature, January through May, 2021. For job details and to apply, click here.

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Let Adults Be Adults
Posted April 04, 2019 by Nathanael Ferguson

This week, the Texas Senate is considering legislation to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. It is an interesting subject to consider, and there is an emotionally compelling case for prohibiting young adults from engaging in behavior that is well-demonstrated to be unhealthy.

Emotional arguments notwithstanding, it is our view that this is bad and unprincipled public policy. We should not make laws based on emotional feelings but on principles rooted in a traditional understanding of the role of limited government and the concepts of individual liberty and personal responsibility for adults in a free society.

Adults and children have always been treated differently under the law. Our society and our laws recognize that children are neither mature enough nor experienced enough to make their own choices. This is why parents teach, mentor, and guide their children into adulthood and hope that by the time their children reach the age of majority, they are well-trained to make wise decisions in their own capacity.

Our laws recognize that children are incapable of making meaningful decisions about serious issues which is why we have a separate ...

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Sign Up For Our Floor Report
Posted January 15, 2019 by Nathanael Ferguson

The legislature is back and so are we! This session we have a fantastic team of people reading, analyzing, and summarizing bills under consideration by the 86th Texas Legislature. Every day that votes are scheduled in either chamber, we will send a Floor Report providing plain language bill summaries and liberty-minded vote recommendations for all the bills on the calendar. If you would like to receive our free daily Floor Report in your inbox, sign up with your name and email address in the subscription box on the right.

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