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BIG TRUCKS AND THE ROADS Anybody, Even Hindus, Can Buy Cars Sundays AUSTIN The House, continuing to follow its maverick impulses, killed the Senate-endorsed Parkhouse bill banning Sunday sale of automobiles after a two day floor fight that rang with cries of “pressure,” “selfish greed,” an admonition to “hold up your head and vote `no’,” and a public airing of a telegram warning a legislator he had signed his “death warrant.” The bill, which had been endorsed by the Texas New Car Dealers, was defeated on final passage, 67-63. It had run a withering gauntlet of amendments on Wednesday a n d advanced in greatly revised form to final reading, 73 to 61. On Thursday, the opponents, who included some of the House’s best orators, liberal and conservative, finally killed the measure after an unusual closing argument by Rep. Zeke Zbranek of Liberty. The impromptu alliance against the bill included conservatives Scott McDonald of Fort Worth, Frates Seeligson of San Antonio, Jim Bates of Edinburg, and Byron Tunnell of Tyler and liberals server to give “the whole story” including C of f i el d’s extensive public service for the prison system. Pressed to describe his public service, Coffield said he was on the Good Neighbor Commission in the ’40’s. His present term runs to 1961. In his ten. years on the prison board, he said, he has spent $40,000 “actual cash outlay” flying his Beechcraft and Bonanza airplanes on board business. He has never turned in an expense account. He foots the bills for the meal before every board meeting. He has been able to save the system money by buying pianos and TV sets direct from the factory. Another board member said Coffield has personally put over the prison rodeo, which has meant a great deal to inmates and to the system. On two occasions, said this other board member, Coffield h a s financially helped prisoners being released, and he always supports rehabilitative programs in the system. Auditor Cavness says Coffield is “a fine man, a dedicated public servant.” Coffield has been the de facto supervisor of the “education and recreation” fund of the prison system. As Ellis says, “the E&R fund is the rodeo, and rodeo and Coffield are just about synonymous.” Audit reports back to 1953 complain of “irregular purchases” of watches, piano s, plaques, movie projectors, flowers, furniture and fixtures, draperies, and supplies without proper bids. Ellis and Coffield explain’ that Coffield could buy some items cheaper for the system without taking competitive bids. The Observer asked Coffield whether he or any company or financial entity in which he was interested ever profited from any of these non-bid purchases out of E&R funds. His answer was an emphatic negative. Coffield is primarily In the oil business. He owns 1,000,000 square feet of warehousing space in Houston, the M & M Building there, a small oilfield near Rockdale, oil gathering systems in Luling and Rockdale, and other businesses. In. 1958 he sold his half of Coffield and Guthrie in Navarro and Scurry counties for $1.75 million. He has been regional chairman of the Boy Scouts AUSTIN In a six hour public hearing he described as “rather unusual but used by governors of other states,” Price Daniel this week gave trucking interests some anxious moments and asked state officials embarrassing questions before he signed into law the bill increasing truck load limits on highways to 72,000 pounds. Daniel said he called the meeting to determine “whether or not I should sign or veto this bill . because of the investment the public has in its highway system and the cost of enforcement added by this bill.” He said he was prepared to sign the bill insofar as the load limit was concerned but “I would not say I would have voted for it.” For over two hours, State Highway Commissioner DeWitt Greer carefully responded to Daniel’s question’s about possible bridge failures, certain of his recommendations which were not incorporated into the bill, and the overall effect of the load boost on the state’s highways. He agreed with Daniel the bill did not follow the recommendations made by the Highway Commission or the American Association of State Highway Officials as set down in a code for truck load limits. ‘The Failure Points’ Greer said two trucks loaded to 72,000 pounds passing on a standard H-15 highway bridge “would. provide 40 per cent overstress …. which would shorten the life of the bridge.” Asked by Daniel if bridges might collapse completely under such loads, Greer said that “certain bridge span lengths might get to the failure points those having 100-foot spans. But you have to consider the frequency that two trucks might pass on a bridge … if it happens just once in three years it wouldn’t probably break the bridge down.” Greer said that of the 16,150 bridges in the highway system, 650 are zoned below the present load limit of 58,400 pounds. Asked by Daniel if, the trucking industry was following the present load limit, Greer said “No, ten per cent … checked … in the district of Fort Worth were overloaded.” As for the overall highway system, Greer said that roughly 20,000 miles of the 26,000 Class A roads in the state could “stand the new load limit without restrictive zoning” and the remaining highway mileage could be protected with adequate law enforcement. “I assume,” said Greer, “the law is enforced.” “In view of these surveys,” said Daniel, “that would be an invalid assumption, wouldn’t it?” “Yes, invalid,” smiled Greer. Daniel said, “Now, I know you are on just as hot a seat as I am when two-thirds of the legislature voted for this bill. Now then, when you said before these legislative committees that considered this bill that the highway system would be adequate to stand a 72,000 pound load limit, were you assuming they would accept the AASHO code on axle spacing?” “Yes,” said Greer. “Now that the bill does not include your recommendation, how would you regard your prediction?” Daniel asked. “I believe that with proper zoning and law enforcement,” said Greer, “the for Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Arkansas for five years. Ellis, Coffield, and Irwin cooperated with the Observer’s inquiry, answering all questions and providing free access to minutes and files. R. D. statement can be made to stand with respect to part of the system but not as much of the system … there would be increased usage, increased wear and tear. the time element would be hard to calculate …. it would accelerate the time money would have to be spent to a certain degree, that is, money would have to be spent earlier.” ‘Big Trucks’ Blamed Senator Culp Krueger, who vigorously opposed the bill in the Senate, testified “it’s indisputable the greater the load limit the greater the wear and tear on the roads. As the highway commissioner himself says, this bill will bring about an earlier reconstruction date.” Krueger, speaking rapidly and with some heat, again brought up the question of bridge failures resulting from two 72,000 pound trucks passing. Greer said, “If it didn’t happen every hour, it wouldn’t necessarily mean the bridge would fail.” In a heated closing statement, Krueger said, “It is overwhelmingly clear there is no law enforcement … we are apprehending less than one per cent of the violators … You don’t need any official surveys, visual inspection of the highways by laymen shows the wear and tear on our highways by these big trucks.” Col. Homer Garrison, director of the. Department of Public Safety, said that the 75 inspectors provided for by legislative appropriation cons t i t u t e d “a rather small group to handle 60,000 miles of roads.” Daniel asked if more law enforcement was needed. Garrison said, “No question about it, of course, obviously we do. I urgently recommend twelve permanent weighing stations and an additional 23 patrolmen.” The press has been quite con temptuous of t h e House passed tax bill. “House Whittles Away on Corpse of Tax Bill,” said Bryan Daily Eagle in a page-one head. Dallas News said the House shirked “the spirit” of the Con stitution on its responsibility to originate revenue b i 11 s. Fort Worth Star-Telegram agreed with Rep. Dean Johnston that the House abdicated its prerogatives: passing a bill to raise .one-eighth of what’s needed is like “giving the wife a $20 bill and telling her to pay next month’s $200 house Political Intelligence hold expenses,” said the S-T. Stuart Long’s Austin Report said the House laid “the skeleton of a dead cat” on the Senate doorstep. Midland Reporter-Telegram condemned the “Texas Tax Fiasco” and agreed with Rep. Louis Anderson that H.B. 727 is “discriminatory to the point of being vicious.” Said the Texas Businessman: “a meaningless ‘tax’ bill … Business didn’t want the measure but did want to keep it alive so the Senate … will have ‘scratch paper’ …” Dallas News said that pert/ haps after legislators have had a little more time with their constituents, “they may be able to come back to Austin and either pass a general sales tax or an omnibus special-sales-tax bill without too much political damage to themselves.” Lynn Landrum of the News advocated that the legislature “Draft a tax bill to hit and to hurt every vote-bearing Texan …. This would probably mean .a straight out sales tax,” Speaking for the bill were Senator William Fly, Senate sponsor of the load limit boost, and Jim Taylor, lobbyist for the Texas Motor Carriers Assn. Fly said, “If the Highway Department has zoning authority on bridges, they have it on roads too. There is adequate provision in the statutes now to permit the Highway Department to exercise zoning authority … As for law enforcement … If they \(sheriffs and they can enforce the law.” Lowest Load Limit Taylor said the truck industry pays 37 per cent of the taxes that go to the Highway Department, $100 million a year in license and motor fuel taxes. He said the additional weight limit would add $7.5 million to $10 million annually to revenues from fees and fuel taxes and that with this investment in Texas highways, the trucking industry was “anxious as anyone in maintaining good roads.” He said most western states have load limits of from 72,000 to 80,000 pounds and that Texas’s present 58,400 pound limit was one of the lowest in the nation. Final witness was Paul Curtis of the American Automobile Association, who said “I represent 63 per cent of the taxpayers, not 37 per cent. Why is $22 million being spent for the ASSHO code if we don’t use it? … I urge the Governor to veto this bill.” Concluding the hearing, Daniel said, “with proper cooperation between all of us, I believe we can take care of the situation. We haven’t had enough cooperation in the past.” After signing the bill the night of the hearing, the Governor sent to the legislature as emergency legislation a bill providing for additional weight stations and inspectors. L.G. which Landrum said he’s against, but could be replaced as soon as “a sensitive alternative” could be devised. Texas Businessman said old hands think it will take two special sessions “to produce much of a chance for a sales tax,” and that Sen. William Fly is the man to watch in the Senate. / Led by student president Leon Lipp, a new “Conservative Democrats in Action” group formed at the University of Houston to demand immediate suspension. of any textbook containing “undesirable political ideas and views” and “to expose socialiitic and communistic views expressed in any textbook.” University of Houston chancellor A. D. Bruce defended textbooks now in use. 7 The first sign that Texas Re publicans will throw in with Dick Nixon for president: Jack Porter, the committeeman, said he hasn’t seen any Rockefeller sentiment in Texas and does not anticipate any. 7 Public school administrators from seven counties met in Abilene to coordinate a program to increase “instruction in the American Freedom s” in the schools under a cash gift to Abilene Christian College from the “Texas Bureau for Economic Understanding,” a business-financed private group. ./ Sen. Yarborough will make V “a major speech” at a closedcircuit showing of Harry Truman’s speech on TV May 8 at Del Mar Field House in Houston. Will Clayton is honorary chairman of the Houston event. Page 3 May 2, 1959 refused. Lee has kicked up a lot of sand in letters to Ellis, Jess Irwin of the Governor’s business office, and Gov. Daniel himself. After Irwin and a Texas Ranger, Johnny Klevenhagen, interviewed him at length, they concluded the Coffield land deal was all right. Irwin says that he asked Lee if he was alleging wrong-doing and that Lee replied he was not. The prison system owns Blue Ridge farm, part of which is inside Harris County. It has asked the legislature to take the farm over and in return appropriate $1.25 million with which the system would buy 8,300 acres in Walker County for another prison farm. Coffield and Ellis believe the Blue Ridge land will be much more valuable to the state in a , few years than it is now; meanwhile; the system needs a new farm. The bill making this trade has passed the House and Senate this session. This week the House voted, 8539, to authorize the board to sell some land from Retrieve Prison Farm and to condemn several tracts of privately owned land in Ramsey farm, including the Lee and Smith tracts. Enough word of something dubious had seeped into the legislature to cause the sturdy opposition. “There are things about this and about Mr. Coffield that I don’t like. If I hear any more about it, I’ll demand a full investigation,” said Rep. Criss Cole. Rep. Bo Ramsey assured Rep. Bill Kilgarlin that no prison board member “has any financial interest to be gained” by the bill. Coffield’s Service The disputes over private land in Ramsey farm, Ellis said, have taken up “more time than any one problem since I’ve been down here.” Elmer Bertelsen, a Houston Chronicle reporter, inquired into the land matter, but Ellis displays a letter from Bertelsen saying, “I understand that no story is planned at this time on my research into the land swap project.” Mgr. Ellis was “afraid it might hurt the whole system” for the two episodes to be publicized. He, Coffield, and another member of the prison board arranged several interviews with the Ob Zbranek, Joe Cannon of Mexia, Bill Kilgarlin of Houston, and H. G. Wells of Tulia. Tunnell said, “If this bill is designed to protect the sanctity of the Sabbath, why is it that car dealers are the only type of people who need this kind of religious protection? This is a restraint on legitimate business