THE LEGISLATURE EXPLAINED MARSHALL Having twice been definitely characterized as an “expert witness” before two House committees, the writer feels qualified to write aS an expert on the legislative process. He has seen it in operation, hasn’t he? First, as they do in those interminable bills, let us set out our definitions. By a “legislative committee” is meant a group of legislators selected by the speaker to axe bills he doesn’t like and forward those he does. A “bill” is the pet child of a group or individual that is to be either emasculated or wet nursed by the committee. The “hearing” consists of the appearance of us “expert witnesses,” who are lobbyists under the skin. The committee meeting is opened by the chairman, and the legislatorproponent sketchily outlines his bill and calls for the experts. This is a touchy point, for some of the bills have not been studied by the proponents, and some experts are un …. Apparently some of the segregation bills will pass the House, but high-echelon talk is that the Senate will bury them. One member counts eight or nine outright opponents to them at this point. This is another curious reverse on the way it’s been in the past, the House passing the Pool bill, the Senate killing it, being another’illustration. It doesn’t take many senators to stop legislation, and in the past this has meant the Senate has stopped plenty of reforms ; but this session the reforms are almost uncontroversial, and they zip right through the Senate, while, the liberal-whipping legislation gets slammed. …. As the drouth on the land ends, the drouth for the lobby begins. The “legislative advocates” are now proceeding with great caution in Austin, and a lot of members have taken up cafeteria eating. Beauinont Kiwanians heard a review of Austin corruption last week, and they seemed terribly concerned, comp let e l y unskeptical. Times have changed ; the people arenow apparently cured of their doubts. …. Governor *Daniel’s position’ is that the corruption has been “sporadic” and exaggerated by political demagogues and “out-of AUSTIN Although it has almost been Jost in the legislative hue and cry, a bill introduced by Rep. Carlton Moore of Houston is among the most important of the session from ‘ the standpoint of protecting the rights of the working man. The bill, numbered HB 517, changes only two words in current state laws under which workers may file claims for due and unpaid wages. , But those words are extremely important to a large number of people. Labor Commissioner M. B. Morgan, at whose request Moore filed the bill, says that for some reason, probably due to oversight, the current law does not make it clear whether wage claims rights apply to an individual hiring workers. The law clearly names companies, corporations, and various business operations but does not specifically state whether it applise to ‘say’ a man hired to do yardwork or in any employment where the worker hires out to an individual. Morgan explained that there is a difference of opinion on the point among attorneys ; in fact, one at= charitable enough to say the proponents haven’t even read them. Save in rare instances, however, the legislature’s esprit de corps prevents the asking of any embarassing questions which might show the proponents don’t know what in the hell it’s all about. Next, we experts are called to the joustings and make with talk on the one hand about the imperative need Franklin Jones for tfie bill, and on the other about the fact that its passage would wreck the welfare of the state. This is quite an exciting period ! Some of the committeemen read newspapers, some dawdle with their watch charms or other personal effects, and some simply put their minds bn something else and weather the oratorical storm, impervious to the accompanying spray of reason. At the end of the “testimony” of a witness, or during it, the commit state publications,” and that other state agencies are clear and free of the taint of dishonesty. Stuart Long and Dave Cheavens drew him out on this at a’ recent press conference and his position was that it stands to reason that this is so. …. “Texas Businessman,” newsletter to businessmen out of Austin, says the Cox bribery case is bigger than Cox, involves underthe table money passing always whispered about, hard to pindown. It advises novices in the legislative process to stay away until things cool down. T h e netting of Garland Smith and J. Byron Saunders in the ICT insurance scandal brings to mind former Governor Shivers’s boast that his appointed people were sound. He defended Smith and Saunders again and again when they were under attack in the U.S. Trust & Guaranty case. …. An incidental reference by Bicknell Eubanks in the Christian Science Monitor may help explain why the Texas Railroad Commission switched its position and authorized a daily production allowable increase of 211,000 barrels a day for March. Reports Eubanks : Ct … it is reported by oilmen that torney general held individuals were covered by the law, and another said they were not. Some county attorneys are willing to handle such cases but others say, they have no authority. Morgan says as result of the ambiguity in the law many small wage earners have “no place to turn when a dispute arises over their pay. We simply contact the party and try to work out a settlement.” Labor Commission records show that in the past two years more than 3,600 such cases have been filed and that the wages in dispute totaled more than $200,000. Rep. Moore, adding to Morgan’s explanation of the bill, said, “All this does it take out the loopholes and clarify the law.” It was approved. by the judiciary committee and soon will come before the House for a vote. It was a strange “oversight” that the original law failed to extend such rights to the workers who obviously need them ‘most. * * * The same committee, presided over by vice-chairman Rep. Joe Chapman of Sulphur Springs, postponed decision on a bill by Rep. teemen have their opportunity for revenge. They question the witness, and he dodges the ,lightning as best he can. His opponents have furnished their friends on the committee with weak points in his testimony, and he must dance around them. Finally, the long-suffering committee is ready to act. All too often the pet bills of the string-pullers are voted out forthwith. The others may be given a one-way ticket to the Siberia of legislation, an unfavorable subcommittee, or they may be given a chance with a favorable subcommittee. Either way, the work of the expert witness is over \(unless he is also an “approacher,” in which even he will buttonhole committee members until his bill or his opponent’s dinarily he will return to the doldrums of his inexpert existence, wondering if he should have implied that the “author” of that bill had not read it and that it constituted a “tale told by an idiot.”‘ been assured b y administration leaders in Washington that the federal government will move to slow down imports of foreign oil …. It is in return for this assurance of federal support to ease the economic competition from foreign oil that Texas has agreed to increase its proration_ allowance, according to .industry leaders here in Dallas.” …. Drew Pearson reports from Washington : “Teamster officials have hinted Dave Beck will wait until after the Texas election before returning to this country. ‘Reason : there’s a chance the. Senate will fall under GOP control in case Texas should elect a Republican senatOr. Beck apparently believes he would get a better break if the Republicans were running the labor. racketeer investigation. Teamster officials say Beck is convinced the Democrats are investigating the teamsters for splitting with other labor unions to support the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket.” …. Jacob Bergolofsky, one of the 22 Senate candidates, is a 31year-old student of law whose grade point average is one point too low for him to continue in the University of Texas law school. He ran for two offices beforeboth on the campusand ‘did “lousy” each time, he says. Eligio de la Garza of Mission which would aid news reporters in digging out information on political corruption and other skullduggery. De la Garza’s bill provides that news reporters would not have to disclose the source of their information on any story to any court, state agency, or investigative body except grand juries. In other words, it would give any person assurance he could give information to a news ‘ reporter without danger the reporter might be compelled to disclose the source of such information or go to jail. However, the public would still be safeguarded against , irresponsible reports by the fact that such sources could still be demanded by grand juries. A bill protecting news reporterS’ sources of information could not harm honest officials. As has been sensationally shown in Texas in the past two years there is a serious need for exposure of dishonesty among some state legislators and ranking employees. The honest majority will help themselves by passing de la Garza’s proposal. He said he would bring it up for committee vote in the next few days. BOB BRAY Zbranek Writes On Public Ethics In Law Review AUSTIN An interesting comment in Texas Law Review by Rep. J. C. Zeke Zbranek, Daisetta, and J. Ronald Trost reviews the issues ‘involved in the legislator’s problems of eating. It is called, “The Texas Legislator : ‘Hon. Solon and Mr. Economic Man.” The premise is that the legislator should have no direct economic interest in the measures presented for his consideration. Charges are alluded to that some Texas legislators “gave their highest loyalty to their role of economic man and a subordinate loyalty to their role of legislator.” In passing it is observedthat campaign contributions “may substantiallyinfluence the legislators’ judgment” and that most corrupt practices laws so define the contributions “that some material contributions do not come within their purview.” The Texas statute on lobby control is general. There are no reported appellate opinions involving criminal prosecutions under it, it is noted. Texas House rules require lobbyists to list their names and affiliations, but Texas Senate rules, do not.. Some legislators’ business activc- tiesas lawye’rs or as businessmen are all right, says the article; others are not. Some are objectionable because of the nature of the employment itself. In this category : accepting fees for introducing and handling bills ; appearing before administrative bodies and agencies ; business or law work effectively related to the employer’s legislative interests. “A number of legislators represent clients before some administrative boards solely or largely because of their influenceas legislatorswith the agency,” says the article. “This influence could be transformed into coercion by a determined legislator,” especially since state appropriations are itemby-item and a state worker’s salary could be cut. “A company may employ a legislator to act as selesman in a Texas community. There is no impropriety in this. But if the company is directly interested in pending legislation, and then hires the legislator, the employment could be camouflage for an outright bribe.” ‘Similarly, “many lawyper-legislators are employed on a retainer-fee basis by various economic interests …. Present in this relationship is the opportunity to use the alleged retainer to promote the private interests of the employer.” Private economic relations between a pressure-group association and a legislator “have the appearance of impropriety because the major function of such a group is to influence legislation.” The same is true, says the article, of “the larger concerns” that hire . their own lobbyists. The article. reviews legislation in other states and makessuggestions, many of which are embodied in Zbranek’s lobby regulation now pending in the Ho .use. The article has one ‘other pro posal : “A joint committee or a separate committee of each house should be established to study the operation of the lobbying statute and , to receive complaints of violations of the statute and of the code of ethics.” The committee would serve a capacity similar to that of the state bar’s grievance’ committee, Zbranek and Trost suggest. Senate May Slow Race Bills NEWS SOURCES NEED PROTECTION
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.