JIMMY PHILLIPS 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 THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 4 March 28, 1955 Phillips Finds an Issue And Rides to a Record Solons Shuck Early Lethargy from the Bible, and later two Bi bles. He switched from drinking vast amounts of water to sucking on a lemon. From time to time, Senators Searcy Bracewell of Houston, Rogers Kelly of Edinburg and 0. E. Latimer of San Antonio would spell Phillips with questions, many of them long and involved. As Phillips’ talkathon moved toward t h e Thursday midnight mark, his audience grew smaller. Soon he was talking to only a few reporters, a few senators, and a large number of empty red leather chairs. Most of the senators were in their offices, taking various refreshments or getting some sleep. One senator even slept on a couch in the ladies’ rest room. Once Phillips noted the variations in the size of his audience. “Maybe as they stumble in and stumble out, they’ll catch fire and get on my wagon,” he said. In the late hours he kicked off his shoes and paraded around in his stocking feet, pounding on one desk and then another. He never stopped talking, even when his voice failed him around 4 a.m. He shrugged his shoulders and kept moving his lips. “I lost my voice,” he whispered to a passerby. Someone brought him some gargle and a half gallon jug of orange juice. Somebody else equipped him with a microphone. He grabbed it in his fist and continued to pace up and down, the microphone amplifying his whisperings. In the post-dawn hours the galleries again filled and senators began filing in. This seemed to give Phillips renewed vigor. His voice came backparticularly after an hour’s rest while Bracewell asked him lengthy questions about the amendment. At 9 a.m. he was going strong again, still in his stocking feet. At 9:15 Hardeman, who had been presiding most of the time in place of Ben Ramsey, interrupted him. “I would like to announce that you have just broken the record set by Wayne Morsewhy, I do not know. You have spoken longer than any lawmaker in a legislative debate.” Phillips said: “I appreciate the announcement, but I’m more interested in votes than records.” And apparently he was, because it wasn’t until 10:24 a.m.after his supporters had returned to their seatsthat he collapsed in his chair and said: “I hope … that you will vote … for my amendment.” His amendment was tabled instead by a 14 to 11 count. “Just two more votes,” he sighed. Later in the day the appropriations bill was shoved through without any floor amendments. day at 10:49 a.m. and entered into the oratorical orgy in earnest. He picked up the bulky report on the $1.5 billion appropriations bill. He waved it in the air and boomed statements which were repeated in one way or another for the next 23 hours: “I wouldn’t even call this bill niggardly … It’s too cheap to be glorified by that title. “This massive missive of mismanagement … You have to be lucky enough to have a mental illness or tuberculosis or you can’t get adequate treatment in Texas … “John Sealy is the only state charity hospital for general cases and you are kicking it around like a poor little orphan child …” He railed against “that wilful little group, so few in might, unmindly of all the needs for essential services even to the point of the rejection of a pittance of the total budget to staff empty charity hospital beds.” He appealed to the “generosity and humanitarianism” of his colleagues “to help the sick, needy, weak, lame and crippled.” * “I’ve been around a long time,” he said, “and a lot of ’em are generous before the election. But many lose their generosity after the votes are counted. Those are the ones who have came and went since I came.” He asked how his colleagues could resist such a simple and humane request as his because of “Somebody’s economic trajectory i slid out of someone’s slide rule-ian standard of economics … which has resulted in the concoction of an instrument as garbled and as gob bled up so that it could only be the product of somebody’s infertile ‘-. thinking, because fertile thinking of this kind could do violence to the essential services of this state.” “It is a sad, sad story,” he said. 1 “If you could have walked with me along the corridors and seen this human derelict, the wreckage of some poor unfortunate personthe ray of hope that burns through their eyes that here through the generosity of Texas people I am going to receive the treatment from a skilled physician. No discrimination, it makes no difference, just as the Good Book says, it makes no difference …” Newsmen and senators didn’t know how long he would hold the floor, but they didn’t think he would keep it up for long. “He’s just perfecting his record,” one reporter said \(Phillips, at the time, already held the state filibustering championship with a mark of 17 hours, 55 minutes, set But he didn’t stop. He gathered steam as he progressed. Photographers fell in love with him. There wasn’t an instance during the 23 hours, even when his voice was down to a rasping whisper, that he didn’t produce for the cameramen. He mugged, minced, prayed, flailed the air, hoisted the bulky bill, quaffed gallons of water, kicked off his shoes. There wasn’t a pad picture taken in more than 200. Once Sen. Shireman walked over and stood between Phillips and a cameraman. Phillips stopped and looked. “You’re handicapping me, Senator. Your attitude is typical of the subcommittee which sent this bill out.” Later, Parkhouse walked by Phillips’ desk. “… I protest against the status quo,” was the part the Dallas senator heard. “You mean you want niggers in that hospital, Jimmy?” Parkhouse said, smiling. On the first day Senator Otis Lock of Lufkin asked the chair for a clarification of rule governing a filibuster. “If the distinguished senator from Angelina County would pull his nose out of Facts Forum Magazine long enough to read the rule book, he wouldn’t have to ask such crude and rude disturbing questions,” said Phillips. As time passed he began reading nibus tax measure to raise the $60 million needed to fill the needs of the general appropriations bill. The machinery for such a move was already available. Rep. Stanton Stone earlier had introduced a bill redrafting the entire omnibus tax code. Such a move could open up every category of natural resources, gross receipts, insurance premium, beer excise, occupation and sales tax. The House was busy most of the week passing major legislation. Among the bills were measures: Giving the State Insurance Board broader powers to examine and reject proposed insurance companies; revising the election code; providing a new corporation code; and protecting the interest of children in divorce cases. The bill sharply revising the election code made country boys in the House unhappy because it required all voters over 60 to obtain permanent poll tax exemption certificates. The rural legislators hoped they could call it back from the Senate. The main feature of the election bill would do away with hot summertime campaigning by dating the first primary on the fourth Saturday in May instead of July and the second priamry the fourth Saturday in June instead of August. Two regulatory bills stood closer to final House and Senate passage at the end of the week. The House, gave preliminary approval to a bill by Rep. Charles Kirkham Jr. of Cleburne providing tighter regulation of the sale of stocks and securities in Texas. The bill was approved 89-52 on second reading in the House. It has already passed the Senate. Reps. Barefoot Sanders of Dallas and Frank Carpenter of Sour Lake guided the bill through steady but ineffective opposition. One more House reading is all that is required. A bill raising capitalization requirements for certain Texas life insurance companies was one reading away from passage in the Senate. The bill’s author, Senator Searcy Bracewell of Houston, wants to require all future legal reserve life companies to put up $250,000 capital and $125,000 surplus to organize. Limited and full capital stock companies now can get into business with $25,000 and $100,000 respectively. Other developments included: Final reading of a bill to license dispensing opticians, who make glasses which physicians prescribe. Senate passage of a bill to require written examination for applicants for license as legal reserve life insurance agents. A Senate resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution authorizing the issuance of $100 million in state bonds and levying a three-cent ad-valorem tax to finance an Administration backed water program. AUSTIN Texas lawmakers lost some of their mid session lethargy and made things look more like a Legislature last week. It was more fun for some, more work for others, and a great deal more interesting for onlookers, who packed the galleries in larger number than at any time this session. There were all the trappings of a Legislature: floor fights, backstage were out in record number’ as maintrigue, a rumored switch in Administration strategy. Lobbyists jor bills began moving through the legislatiVe mill. There was even a filibuster, and it was a whoppera new national With slightly more than a month remaining of the regular session, the House and Senate both had voted out the State’s record billion dollar spending bills. The general appropriations measures will be thrashed out later in conference committee. The lawmakers now know where to spend the money. In ensuing weeks they must decide on who pays for the expanded State services. They have several choices: smokers, motorists, students, corporations and developers of natural resources, to name a few. In this respect, the Administration was rumored to be considering a switch in strategy for pushing through its suggestions on how and who pays. If true, liberal legislators backing bills in opposition to the Governor’s recommendations could share in the credit for causing the switch. More and more in recent weeks sentiment for Rep. Jerry Sadler’s gas processing and beer taxes was evident. Sadler had filed the processing tax in opposition to the Governor’s suggestion for an increase in the State gasoline tax. Sadler’& measure would actually lower the tax, while bringing in more money. The change in Administration strategy was reported to be working like this: Junk the suggested “single shot” measures such as the two-cent gasoline sales tax and the one-cent cigarette tax, concentrate on an om Phillips said later he could have continued the filibuster. “I was going to talk as long as it took,” he said, his voice still holding up. “I could’ve talked the rest of the day and into the night … I don’t think I lost.” He still has a chance for his amendment in a Senate-House conference committee on the general appropriations bill. Phillips said he expected to be punished politically for his fight against the bill as it was written. “They’ll take the hide off anyone who insurrects,” he shouted. “But what we need is a little insurrection around here anyway.” BILL BRAMMER
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.