AUSTIN A man who represents 316,000 rural users of co-op electricity charges here that Attorney General John Ben Shepperd has “taken up the cause” of the priy,,ate power companies in a suit filed by the State. In an interview with The Texas Observer, Elmo J. Osborne, general manager of the statewide REA cooperative association, Texas Electric Cooperative. says that a suit Shepperd has filed would jeopardize c o o p electrical facilities worth $6,000,000 a\\nd co-op service to 15,000 persons. He also charges it would slow up the growth of cooperative power near cities. “And it depends on how far they go with the State’s suit,” Osborne says. “The way the State’s petition interprets the law, it could mean that 90 percent of the persons getting REA power were served illegally to start with.” Lieutenant Governor Ben Ramsey will be opposing Shepperd in the suit. Ramsey filed an intervention as an attorney for his home-county cooperative, the Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc., of Shelby County. He has long been attorney for the group. It brought to 47 the number of cooperatives volunteering to become co-defendants in the quo warrahto suit. Shepperd has denied emphatiacily that he wishes to terminate the rural electricity movement in Texas as it is now knownas Osborne says the suit would do if it were successful. Shepperd says the State went to court for a clarification of the law. Osborne attributes to Shepperd, in addition, statements that “all he wanted to do was to give the power companies their day in court.” This, he says, was based on the argu ment that the companies could not bring the suit themselves, but Osborne says this is not the case. Of Shepperd, Osborne says: “He signs his name to it \(the peshouldn’t have done it.” These charges concern a petition filed by the State against Upshur Rural Electric Co-op and the City of Gilmer. The City granted the coop a franchise to provide electricity to 25 consumers in an area which the City had recently annexed. Southwestern Gas and Electric Company, which serves most of the consumers in the city, objected. The federal district court at Tyler held in 1954 that the Electric Cooperative Corporation Act contained no prohibition against co-op service to residents inside Gilmer. Southwestern Gas has appealed the Tyler decision. Meanwhile, Shepperd, on behalf of the State, filed his action which states that the word “receiving” in the federal act \( \(which passed in be received.” The State maintains t;hat anyone in a position for “receiving” electric service from a private company can not be serviced by a co-op. “Practically all the highways had private electric lines on them even as far back as 1935,” Osborne says on this point. Asked if he thinks Shepperd is acting on behalf of the power companies, Osborne said: “Well I don’t know. I do know we were all very surprised. We were just flabbergasted when he filed it.” He says that if the State wins its case, “every time any city extends its limits, we’ll have to turn over the facilities we have to the private companies. And since locally it’s always a monopoly, they could take it at whatever price they named.” Tuesday of this week, a hearing will be held on the State’s request that 41 electric co-ops intervening against the State’s case be dropped from the suit. But, says Osborne, whether the co-ops are knocked out of the suit or not, the state association’s activities against the ‘suit will continue. “We wouldn’t leave ’em, even if they threw us out,” he said. The trial on the merits of the case is scheduled for argument on . April 25. YOUR LOCAL AGENT 6 Howdy, Partner! Chances are you already know the local agent for your own union member-owned ICT Insurance Company. If you do, then you’re already familiar with his personal service to you and your community. Perhaps you know him as a neighbor even as a close friend of your family. But in case you don’t know your ICT agent, there is a still greater reason why you should meet him. Not only is your ICT agent a good citizen and your friend, he is your partner as well. As a representative of your company, your ICT agent shares with you its growth, success and stability. His success as an ICT agent contributes to your success as an ICT owner-customer. It’s lust good business to do business with yourself. If you haven’t met your ICT agent, call Western Union operator 25. It’s time you met your partner in progress. Owned by Union Members Building e Better Americo s, 320 =LEI f ays t T GROUP The ICT Insurance Company NOMII OFFICIs 011asi Texas llonJaelt Sage, President FOR THE TRUTH YOU NEED TO KNOW Support and Subscribe to THE TEXAS OBSERVER Address : Drawer F, Capitol Station, Austin. Name: Street Address: City & State: One-Year Subscription, The Texas Observer, $4.00 \(We will be glad to send sample issues of The Texas Observer to friends of our readers at no charge. Send us the name and address and, if you wish, the issue or … ….,.. . . _HE TEXAL OBSERVER Page 8 March 14, 1935 RAMSEY IS FOE Shepperd in REA Row Bills Fill Hopper At Midway Point AUSTIN Texas legislators, moving into the last half of the regular session, had more work facing them this week than when they first convened in January. A last-minute surge of “free” filing of bills Fridaymore than 150 of thempushed proposed measures near the 1,500 mark. Beginning this week, new legisation cannot be introduced without consent of four-fifths of either chamber. There were so many bills introduced that newsmen were still checking them during the weekend. Among bills filed before the Friday midnight deadline were two to let the Legislature spend special state funds and three aimed at improving insurance laws. Others included a bill permitting the State Commissioner of Education to operate schools such as Irving’s pending settlement of disputes, one proposing extensive investigation of the General Land Office, and one aimed at prohibiting labor unions and “front organizations” from contributing to political campaigns. The lawmakers passed, killed, :ded, and revived a batch of bills during the week. Again little progress was made in the way of money matters. Rep. Jerry Sadler of Percilla got a hearing on his proposed beer tax, and it was automatically shuttled to subcommittee for study. Sadler threatened a filibuster that would last “as long as I can talk or until the sergeant-at-arms throws me out” if the House rejects his measure. Sadler also joined with Rep. Marshal Bell of San Antonio to sponsor a constitutional amendment which would give the taxpayers the last word on taxes. The amendment would give to the voters the privilege of ratifying any new taxes or any increase in taxes. Rep. Robert Patten of Jasper also went after some money for the State by proposing a constitutional amendment which would levy a state tax on natural gas, crude oil, nd any other natural resource. the same time there was a ,vement afootthrough introduction of a bill by Rep.. Stanton Stone of Freepdrt, home of Texas Sulphur to raise just enough money for “efficient and economical” operation of the Government in the next two years. Stone said it would recodify present laws -without making material changes. It would include a tax on cigarettes and cigars. The two bills which would let the Legislature spend special state funds were introduced by Reps. W. G. Kirklin of Odessa and James Turman of Gober. Kirklin’s bill would deposit for ?.gislative appropriation the money paid into 175 special state funds. Turman’s measure would require all agencies of the State to deposit their income in the State Treasury. Turman said there are now 12 agencies with an income of about $750,000 annually whose special funds are now kept in bank accounts outside the treasury and are not subject to legislative control. Passed by the Senate and sent to Governor Shivers was a bill which abolishes the controversial cross-filing provisions of the Texas election law. All elected officials of the state executive except Agriculture Commissioner John White permitted their names to be filed on both Republican and Democratic tickets in 1952. A bill to make divorce-seeking couples “cool off” for 90 days instead of the present 40 days was passed in the House late in the week. The House also passedfor the second timea bill doubling private drivers’ license fees. The bill passed earlier in the week, but a clerical error caused it to be pulled back in for another vote. The first two bills for the state hospital improvement program were passed by both Houses and sent to Shivers’s desk. Both bills are designed to streamline handling and discharge of patients. One would provide for final discharge of nonresident patients. The other would force counties to accept responsibility for patients cured and ready for discharge. The Senate passed both bills overwhelmingly. The House had already acted on them. The House also passed and sent to the Senate a bill to boost the annual license for life, health and accident insurance agents from $2 to $5. Advanced to final reading in the House was a bill to give the State Board of Water Control greater authority over building dams. It would require permits from the board for any project to impound more than 200 acre-feet of water. Committee work resulted in the following actions: A “Bill of Rights for the mentally retarded”a measure which rewrites the entire state law on care, training and education of the mentally handicappedwas given a favorable report by the Senate State Affairs Committee. The bill embodies recommendations of a survey made by the Texas Research League. A bill to place service stations owned by major oil companies under the state’s chain store tax came under heavy attack and was also sent to sub-committee for cooling off.
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