BOW WILLIAMS Automobile and General Insurance Budget Payment Plan Strong Stock Companies GReenwood 2-9545 124 LAMAR, AUSTIN Let’s Abolish the Poll Tax! From the Spirit of 1939 to the Spirit of 1959 AUSTIN Some twenty years ago when I was perfecting the manly swagger so necessary to the proper public bearing on an eleven year-old, I sat for a time in the green, straight-backed chairs that range along the side aisles of the House of Representatives. There, as a page boy, I answered the summonses of the assembled legislators, to fetch coffee, to dispatch notes and documents, and to perform, the other unwritten prerequisite of a House page, to lose my pay to the haughty Senate pages in dice games that floated about, just off the fourth floor rotunda. Among the legislators, I had my favorites, but they stamped themselves on my memory not because of their political views or their incorruptibility, but rather because they said “thank you” and “please” when dispatching me on an errand. That was the session of the first great sales tax fight, of Price Daniel and the “immortal 56,” yet I remember almost none of that. I re member instead a large, red-faced representative from one of our cities to the north who sent me one afternoon to a liquor store to pick up a package. I was surprised to find, upon arriving, that I was expected. “You’re the House page?” said the man behind the counter. He handed me a box, wrapped and sealed. No money changed hands, the only aspect of the affair that was not surprising. In 1939, even the House pages knew what “The Answer from Magnolia Sirs: Your editorial, “Exploiting Texas,” rates this one comment: The oil industry pays 69 percent of all state business and property taxes. It pays a quarter of all taxes, state and local, collected within Texas’ borders. If, as you say, the industry elects Sewing Machine I Mahogany Cabinet II Full set of attachments including buttonholer GUARANTEED : Take up weekly payments $1.55 I OR Pay full balance of only $29.75 WILL DELIVER a Greenwood 3-4479 York Sewing Center Pasadena flealmmominuminmsummimmovel Lobby” was. The package itself was square, an altogether unlikely receptacle for liquor store commodities, so on the way back, I paused to give it a test shake. It gurgled. Vaguely conscious I was breaking the law, I served the higher authority of the legislature and delivered my package, retreating then to a vantage point. The legislator in question was wonderfully adept. He unwrapped the package, cut open the seal with his fingernail and, holding the bottle close to his waist and moving in near the desk, made a quick pouring motion into a glass of coke. There were in the next two hours a number of additional cokes and many more fast pouring motions. Late in the day, he embarrassed the gallery, if not the House, by his thick-tongued repartee in a floor debate, which he won hands down, as I recall, because his opponent was even more thick-tongued. Of the session of the “immortal 56,” all I remember is that lurching, meaty blob of a man. IN THE SENATE, 20 years later, all is as it was. There, too, even the page boys know “The Lobby” is sovereign. In ’59, as in ’39, all is orderly as Dorsey Hardeman’s gavel cracks out the will of the few over the will of the uninformed hard, clipped sounds that echo with Hardeman’s amused laughter to flood out any senator who, for the moment, has wandered off the team. As in other days, legislation is revamped by the tight circle of “bootlicks” to the legislature, then we’re paying a mighty high price to get our shoes ‘shined. Homer T. Fort, Manager, Public Relations, Magnolia Petroleum Company, A Socony Mobil Cornpany, P. 0. Box 900, Dallas 21, Texas. Truths for the Folks Sirs: Congratulations on your editorial “Exploiting T e x a s” in fact I can’t think of any other place we ordinary mortals could get such truths. Virginia Ragsdale, 207 W. Louisiana, McKinney. A Price on Voting Sirs: … Many Texans \(and citnied the chance to vote simply because they lack the price. Action by the federal Congress appears to be the only way that Texas and other poll tax states can soon rid themselves of this limitation on voting. An amendment to the Texas State Constitution, which would allow the What’s THE TRUTH about Catholics? This informative book explains in a clear and comprehensive manner, the teachings of the greatest teacher, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, how He established a church,the origin. of the Bible,the seven sacraments, the Ten Commandments,and many other things. Paper cover $1.50: Cloth $2.75 HOLY NAME SOCIETY 111; Austin St. San Antonio. Texas Senatorial team captains, responding to Lt. Gov. Ben Ramsey, who in turn responds to other authorities, not legislative in nature. The pattern is so established, the need for subtlety so unnecessary, that sometimes the captains do not tell a ‘plebe when one of his bills is to be trimmed, mottled, and reshaped to suit intentions that do not correspond with his. Thus last week I heard a reporter derisively tell a senator his bill was brought up and passed without discussion while he was absent for five min Interpretive utes and that, as an added fillip, the record revealed it was amended by another senator who also was out. Or so the reporter said, and the senator, upon hearing it, responded with the grace that comes of long acquaintance with the facts. A few moments later, another reporter, gazing down the Senate calendar of that day, muttered resignedly, “Lord, every one of these is a special interest bill.” TWO WEEKS AGO, one of these bills which the Senate passes so effortlessly found its way to the top of the House calendar. Nine days and three exhausting floor debates later, it has been revised, whittled, modified, and debilitated, and the remnant hasn’t achieved final passage yet. In its own ad libbed, free wheeling people of Texas to vote on eliminating the poll tax, is stuck in a conservative legislative committee …. Believers in democratic government should try in earnest to eliminate the poll tax. Of all U S senators, Senator Ralph Yarborough is probably in the best position to introduce and secure passage of an anti-poll tax bill. He has already established himself as a fighter for the rights of ordinary citizens against industrial monopolies. A campaign against the poll tax is a logical extension of his present program … Bernice Carter, 7623 Belgard, Houston 21. No Second Chance Sirs: It is startling to me that you can so vehemently denounce the death penalty and so blithely ignore a section of the proposed bill abolishing capital punishment that could doom a convicted man to a fate worse than death … actual imprisonment for a lifetime. I regard it as most unwise to place in the hands of a jury the power to specify to the letter the penalty in prison time it metes out to an offender, Should I be sent to prison, I am sure I could tough it out for two, three, or perhaps even five years. But if I were sent to prison for life, with no possibility of parole, I would much rather be executed and be done with it. There are things worse than death, and being caged up for a lifetime is one of them. Actually, execution is far more humane than such imprisonment. For if a man is going to be cut off for the rest of his life from the vocation for which he has prepared himself and from the companionship of his family and friends, he is better off dead. …. I. J. Waldon, Jr., 1229 19th St., Huntsville. way, House action on the bill is emblematic of almost everything that has happened this session to derail the big business effort to railroad a sales tax bill through the legislature. In microcosm, it is the difference between 1959 and 1939 in Texas politics. The bill itself was innocuous enough, a piddling special interest move by most of the new car dealers of Texas to ban Sunday auto sales. It is designed to hit those dealers who stay open on Sunday and thus cause the others to lose sales. It could have passed any previous Texas House as easily as it passed the 1959 Texas Senate. When the bill first came up, erty, whose chair is convenient to the well of the House, looked around to see if the bill had any organized opposition and, finding none, threw himself into the breach. “What a lousy bill,” he said as he passed the press table en route to the back microphone. He threw in a few parliamentary questions to stall for time and in short order got some assistance from Rep. Joe Cannon of Mexia. While Cannon carried on the questioning, Zbranek drafted an amendment, cutting the fine imposed on violators from $200 to 50 cents. Speaking in defense of his amendment, Zbranek asked, “What right has this legislature got to tell a man when he can stay open and when he can’t?” Zbranek’s amendment was defeated by less than ten votes and the fight was on. Rep. Roger Daily of Houston contributed an amendment, making the ban apply to only foreign cars. This too barely failed. To the solid liberal complexion of the opposition then was added the staunchly conservative voice of Rep. Frates Seeligson, “this is a bad, bad bill.” Somebody raised the question of religious liberty, and the authors accepted an amendment exempting Seventh Day Adventists. After that, Zbranek and Seeligson succeeded in getting the bill postponed a week. \(Continued from Mohammedanism, Zoroastrianism, atheism, or agnosticism,” by Kilgarlin. To remove the clause providing for the issuance of restraining orders, by Mays of Atlanta. To permit Sunday sale between the hours of 1:30 and 6 p.m., by McDonald. To remove the severability clause so that if any part of the bill is found unconstitutional, the entire bill is unconstitutional, by McDonald. One effort by Seeligson to lay the bill on the table, subject to call, failed 69-67, and a second motion, to postpone action for one week, lost 70-64. The bill was engrossed Wednesday, 73-61. ‘Death Warrant’ The next day, Zbranek took the microphone for the closing argument against the bill. He had a telegram in his hand. “Scott McDonald has authorized me to read to this House this telegram which he received this morning from one of his car dealers in Fort Worth: ‘Your statement that you were ashamed of the new car dealers in Fort worth surprised everyone here. Think you signed your death warrant for any future political office from Tarrant County’.” \(It was signed by the salesmen of a Fort Worth Chev”I suspect I have voted the other way from Scott McDonald as much as any man in this This week, the House opposition was waiting with an armload of amendments. Zbranek, Kilgarlin of Houston, and Cannon joined with Seeligson, McDonald of Fort Worth, Tunnell of Tyler, and Bates of Edinburgha truly head-shaking coalition of some of the staunchest partisans of rival political philosophies in the house. Kilgarlin exempted Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism, atheists, and agnostics \(“we’ve taken care of the Christians, now let’s take McDonald amended the bill to permit Sunday sale of cars between 1:30 and 6 p.m. \(if this bill is being presented on a religious basis, there is no reason why THE CLOSING attack on the bill Wednesday was a direct blast at the car dealer lobby. Said conservative Bates: “Hold your head up and vote against this bill and have some respect for your fellow citizens of Texas.” Said conservative Seeligson, “I don’t think the car dealers should try to solve their competitive problems by legislation.” Said Zbranek: “This bill needlessly restricts people’s freedom that’s why pioneers went west, why Roger Williams left Rhode Island.” Said Cannon, “There is need, sometimes, for government to pass regulatory measures in regard to businesswhen business gets too big and becomes a monopoly, we have anti-trust laws and railroad commissions. But there is no valid need for this bill, it is unnecessary government control of when a man is to open his business and it sets a dangerous precedent.” The words of 1959, in Texas, in -the House of Representatives. The fumes of 1939 still linger, suffocatingly, in many corners of the state government, but in the House this week on final passage of a bill about automobiles, there was just a numerical answer to a special interest-63 ayes and 67 noes. It left me wondering if the page boys noticed. L.G. House,” said Zbranek. “He and I have different political philosophies. But I know, and every member of this House knows, that he votes the way he honestly believes, there is no more honorable member of this body. To be told he’s signed his ‘death warrant’I say to this House, let’s withstand this pressure. Let’s give Scott McDonald a vote of confidence.” They did, 67-63,
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