“What Went Wrong and How We Get it Right: Conservative Media in 2012 and Beyond”
“Covering Texas Right: Reporting in the Lonestar Republic”
"Getting the Best for Texas in Health Insurance" Room 410
Health Insurance needs further reform even if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. What are the options most Texans have when choosing affordable coverage?
"Unleashing the Texas Energy Colossus" Room 412
Texas is in the midst of an oil and gas boom of unprecedented proportions. New technologies have opened up vast stores of new reserves which have the potential to radically change the nature of energy production and consumption in our state and in the nation as a whole. Come and hear our panel discuss the implications of this new boom to Texas.
"Giving Victims a Voice in the Criminal Justice Process" Room 408
This panel will examine the ways in which the criminal justice system often does not fully serve victims, which include not providing sufficient opportunities for victim input, not including any performance measures relating to victims such as victim satisfaction, not offering restorative
"Getting a Grip on Government Spending" Room 412
Even in Texas, government spending has risen at an unsustainable rate. Since fiscal 1990, expenditures have grown well over 300 percent whereas population growth plus inflation has only grown by 115 percent. Changes need to be made to make sure that government is sustainable. Join us as our panel of experts discuss ways to improve the state’s tax and expenditure limit to ensure the sustainability of state and local government spending.
"New Kid on the Block Grant: An Answer to the Medicaid Problem" Room 410
To discuss the pros and cons of block grants and lay out a path forward for improved health outcomes at a lower cost to the taxpayer.
"Should Texas Sunset the Sunset Commission" Room 408
Has the sunset review process shifted away from its original mission of identifying and eliminating waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government? This panel will examine ways to reform and improve the sunset review of state agencies.
A debate and discussion on immigration reform drawing on the lessons of Texas.
"We're the Feds and "We're Here to Help: The Trojan Horse of Federal Assistance" Room 408
As the Supreme Court regognized in its ObamaCare decision, federal conditional assistance programs can be severely coercive of state governments, limiting the flexibility that state legislators have in responding to constituents' preferences. The primary impact is felt in health care, education, and the overall state budget. This PO will introduce legislators to the problems that the Texas legislature faces from conditional federal grants, what could be accomplished if we didn't face those constraints, and what we could do to escape the federal straight-jacket.
"Less Crime for Less Money: Building on Texas' Criminal Justice Reforms" Room 410
Panelists will highlight Texas’ recent success in simultaneously reducing both the crime and incarceration rates. Despite Texas’ falling incarceration rate, operational challenges such as prison health care for an aging inmate population and staff retention cloud the fiscal horizon. The panel will examine solutions that can be pursued in the next session to further reduce crime and control costs.
"Local Control in Texas Education: Efficency from the Ground Up" Room 412
In an uncertain time for Texas education, parents and local voters need as many opportunities as possible to ensure that the schools in their community are meeting of the needs of their students. This panel will discuss options for expanding local control in Texas public education, including home-rule district charters, parent-trigger laws, and campus charters.
"School or Scandal? Measuring Student Learning" Room 408
Higher education is still reeling after the 2011 publication of the landmark national study, Academically Adrift. The research documents the alarming fact that 36% of students surveyed nationally demonstrate little to no increase in learning after four full years in college. How might American higher education respond to this crisis in student learning?
"Curtailing the Criminalization of Capitalism: Overcoming Criminalization" Room 410
Texas has more than 1,700 criminal offenses on the books, including 11 felonies relating to harvesting oysters. Nearly all of these offenses are outside of the penal code, many of which relate to ordinary activities of individuals and businesses which have not traditionally been considered to be criminal. The panelists will examine legislative approaches for streamlining Texas’ criminal laws to ensure they focus on conduct that is blameworthy and harmful and do not undermine individual liberty and economic freedom.
"Free to Choose, Free to Learn: School Choice for Texas" Room 412
At present, there are no private school choice options in Texas. This panel will discuss whether Texas should follow in the footsteps of states that have taken this route, and how it should go about doing so.
"In the Crosshairs: A Look at For-Profit Providers of Higher Education" Room 412
For-profit higher education is under intense political scrutiny. On the one hand, critics seek to impose ever-greater regulation of the for-profit sector in order to address the abuses committed by some in the industry. On the other hand, free-market champions argue that the unduly burdensome regulation of the for-profit sector strangles in their cradles new entrants to the field and therewith stifles much-needed innovation
"Defeating Delinquency: Slowing the Flow into Texas' Juvenile Justice System" Room 408
Texas has about a third of the juveniles in state lockups as it had in 2005 while juvenile crime has plummeted over this period. Yet, many challenges remain, which range from the front-end of the system where more than 600,000 out-of-school suspensions every year contribute to high drop-out and delinquency rates to the back end of the system where security and programming remain uneven in state institutions. The panelists will provide insights on steps that can be taken in the next session to continue Texas’ progress in right-sizing its juvenile justice system.
"The Future of Texas Electricity: Markets or Mandates?" Room 410
Since Texas began the march to competition in the electricity market over 15 years ago, increased competition and efficiency in the marketplace has made profits harder to come by. When the growing burden of regulation is added to this, it is no wonder that many companies are taking their capital to other states, rather than building new generation in Texas. This panel will examine how to get government out of the way and let the Texas electricity market continue its unprecenedneted success.
"Cities held Hostage by State Statue" Room 408
The sustainability of municipal public pension plans are a major issue for cities all around the state, and the problem has only been made worse by the fact that many of these cities are unable to make any major corrections to these plans because they’re in state statute. Join us as our panel discusses the issue of cities being held hostage by public pension plans that have been codified in state statute, and what these localities can do to address the problem.
"Can the Free Market Protect the Environment?" Room 412
While much attention has been given to the economic harms associated with environmental regulations, there has been less focus on ways in which free markets can themselves solve environmental problems. What is the conservative approach to environmental protection, and how can it be implemented. Come and see our panel of experts lay out their vision for a free market, conservative approach.
"The Classroom of the Future: Improving learning Through Technology" Room 410
As learning technologies become increasingly prevalent across both K-12 and higher education, Texas should examine the possibility of removing barriers to growth in this expanding industry. This panel will discuss ways that such technologies could be used to enhance K-12 education in Texas, and how as much might be used to streamline the path into secondary education.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich breaks bread with attendees in a closing lunch.
Indroductory remarks by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst.