UH Offers Experts for 81st Legislative Session

As the 81st Texas legislative session picks up speed, we are assembling host of experts to help you with your reportage - from the hard-hitting and serious to the offbeat and quirky. Below you will find a few of our picks of professors with plenty to say about what lawmakers are and aren't doing. Don't see what you need? Call us, and we'll make it happen.

Children's Health Insurance Program:
As CHIP goes under the microscope this session, UH's Patricia Gray will be watching with great personal interest. Gray, director of research and external affairs for the UH Law Center, is credited with passage of the CHIP legislation when she served in the Legislature. Contact Gray at 713-743-2206 or pgray@central.uh.edu.

Energy: Among the prefiled measures in the Legislature is a bill creating a task force to regulate electric energy policy. Craig Pirrong, director of energy markets for UH's Global Energy Management Institute, is one of our resident experts on energy and can be contacted at 713-743-4466 or cpirrong@uh.edu.

Transportation: The 81st session is likely to be a bit bumpy for transportation officials, but Dan Cassler, of UH's College of Technology, is available to make your reporting on transportation topics smoother. Cassler, a 25-year veteran of the field, can be reached at 713-743-1330 or dcassler@uh.edu.

Immigration: As long as Texas shares a border with a foreign land, immigration will undoubtedly be a priority for state lawmakers. Michael A. Olivas, director of the Institute of Higher Education Law and Governance, is a widely recognized expert on immigration law and policy and can be reached at 713-743-2078 or molivas@uh.edu.  

Green jobs: Throughout this session, voters will hear a familiar refrain from lawmakers: We must harness the innovation and creativity that has made Texas safer and its economy stronger in the past to tackle the grand challenges of the future. Heidar Malki and his colleagues at the UH College of Technology know firsthand that doing so is largely dependent upon training a highly skilled, technical work force. To find out about the state of workforce development today and how it's changing, contact Malki at 713-743-4075 or malki@uh.edu.

Drug abuse: To further curb substance abuse, one measure up for discussion this session would make possession or use of the hallucinogenic drug salvia a Class A misdemeanor. Charles Kaplan is a research scientist at the UH Graduate College of Social Work's Center for Drug and Social Policy Research. He can be reached at 713-743-8334 or cdkaplan@mail.uh.edu.

School nutrition: Lawmakers plan to tackle plenty of education issues, including slashing the fat in cafeteria food. Norma Olvera, of UH's health and human performance department, studies environmental factors associated with children's eating practices and evaluation of school and community healthy lifestyle interventions. She can be reaced at 713-743-9848 or nolvera@uh.edu.