Editorial 4 e Texas Obse Legislative Emphasis: rve In Next Week’s Issue: Escheats Fight 2 Hearings 3 An Independent-Liberal Weekly Newspaper A Window to the South Vol. 52 TEXAS, MARCH 4, 1961 15c per copy No. 48 A Round-up Report on the Senate Race. How It Came to Pass Conservative-Dominated Coalition, Three Dead Taxes A Demolition Job AUSTIN After a long day of carnage in the close and so:ietimes bitter House tax fight, legislative observers asked how it came to pass and what happens next. Just about everyone could agree with veteran George Hinson, who gloomily predicted after the deadlock “not only one, but perhaps a long series of special sessions.” Everyone could agree, also, that despite the 17-vote margin for “less conservative” speaker candidate Jim Turman eight weeks ago, the House is about as closely divided as it can be, and lingering animosities from the long Turman-Spilman race will make that close division even more pronounced. But the early thoughts of many liberals and moderates that it was the blackest of days in the statehouse soon gave way, after an examination of the big votes, to a kind of qualified optimism. With intense pressure from the lobby, it could be argued, the key votes were still only lost by margins of nine and ten. Anywhere from eight to fifteen of the speaker’s men deserted on each vote. This means that the speaker simply did not properly marshal the forces that stood with him in the crucial fight last January. Nor did the governor’s men come through with the kind of hard floor work that might have been expected. It is apparent now that Daniel misjudged the strength of the opposition to his deficit measures. House leaders had warned him several days before that postponement and a possible revision of the program were necessary. The governor believed his program AUSTIN The dynamics of Old Testament retribution, statistics on the social ineffectiveness of the death penalty, and warnings of increased state expense to keep condemned criminals alive who might deserve execution were debated in a dramatic hearing before the House criminal jurisprudence committee this week. After a five-hour session, the Bridges-Whitfield bill outlawing capital punishment was referred to a friendly subcommittee. The proposed measure, HB 67, provides that those convicted of capital crimes must serve a minimum of 15 years before they are eligible for parole. Juries could recommend that a longer minimum be given and the courts would have the authority to !carry out the jury recommendation. Professors, ministers, district attorneys, sheriffs and a newspaper editor all had a hand in the testimony. The law enforcement witnesses, with an assist from a Houston theologian, stressed the deterrent value of the death sentence and the need to protect society from “amoral individuals” who often “deserve to be put to death.” Abolitionists countered with arguments that capital punishment is not administered justly, could prevail and he determined to go ahead. The jarring, for now, of his proposals especially the escheats bill, on which he warned he might call a special session if it did not passmight put the governor in the fighting mood of the last legislature. His strong attack on the oil and gas lobby last week and the terse and critical statement in the wake of Wednesday’s defeat suggest that he is getting angrier. The shifting coalition, roughly 80 votes, which stymied each of the three measures, was composed of diverse and overlapping elements: those bitter toward Speaker Turman; those bitter toward the governor; the so-called “notaxers,” six or seven members who are known to oppose every tax measure proposed; the hard-core conservatives and sales-taxers, whose tactics are to try to defeat every measure in order to whip up pressure later for a general sales tax. This early in the session, so goes a common observation in the legislature, the average member is more inclined to vote against tax bills. Later, when the pressure is on and people want to go home, there is less general reluctance regarding taxes. This, too, was a factor. House conservatives will be playing for the sales tax. It is now common knowledge in Austin that the lobby has tightly organ .. ized toward that end, also. The combination showed its strength Wednesday. What it will do if faced with a possible floor vote on a sales tax in the next several seen. that it “has no place in a Chritian and democratic society,” and that it has failed in its purpose to deter crime. Don Reid, editor of the Huntsville Item and secretary of the Texas Society to Abolish Capital Punishment, told the committee he “wanted to get one point across. As a man who’s witnessed 167 executions in the Huntsville death row, I’ve learned that death in the electric chair does not deter crime.” He said he had “covered and investigated many heinous crimes that would make your blood boil,” but he ‘had come to realize that “burning a man doesn’t solve the problem at all.” Reid said he has known men saved from the chair by commutation who were later paroled “and are now walking about in free society, good taxpayers and citizens. “Death is so final,” he said. “Once they pull the switch there’s no chance to go back and say, well, maybe the punishment was too severe, or maybe we didn’t get enough facts.” He cited the example of a prisoner serving a 30-year murder sentence in Oklahoma who was released last December when another prisoner in Texas confessed to the crime. “The man they had incarcerated up there in Oklahoma had AUSTIN In a mood ranging from bitter to bantering, a conservative-dominated majority stymied three of Gov. Price Daniel’s deficit-retiring tax measures in the House this week. At the end of the torturous seven-hour session Wednesday, the escheats bill, the revised franchise tax on interstate corporations, and the gross receipts tax on utilities had been slapped down. Losing the key votes by 79-70, 79-69, and 78-70, the liberal-moderate coalition narrowly managed to salvage the escheats measure and the franchise tax from total destruction. After defeat on engrossment, a conservative motion to reconsider and table the franchise tax, which would have killed the bill for the session, failed to carry by a 73-73 tie. Fast work by Speaker Jim Turman, who laid out the utilities tax moments after the escheats bill had been defeated while refusing to recognize a motion to table and reconsider, kept the governor’s pet measure alive for a possible second bid later. The losers succeeded in getting postponement of the utilities tax, an apparent substitute for Daniel’s gas production tax increase while that bill remains in committee, but it became obvious after a crippling amendment that the measure had been almost completely gutted. The three bills would have raised approximately $44 million to meet an estimated $63 million deficit. pleaded guilty. He was an alcoholic and didn’t even know he hadn’t committed the crime. They gave him an alternative: they said ‘either you plead guilty and we’ll give you 30 years or else we’ll give you the chair.’ I guess it’s lucky for hiim he pleaded guilty.” Rep. Stanford Smith of San Antonio asked Reid, “Have you considered what events must have occurred in Biblical times when the rule was ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?’ ” “I was raised in the New Testament,” Reid said. “I don’t think I have the right to judge my fellow man.” He was asked by Rep. Travis Peeler what was the economic status of the men he had seen electrocuted. “All with the exception of three, maybe four, in the last 23 years have been from what you might call a lower economic level,” Reid said. Questioned by Rep. Maurice Pipkin of Brownsville on “the racial proportions” of those executed, be said whites and Negroes “have been about equally divided.” Rep. Frank McGregor of Waco, the most persistent questioner of the abolitionists during the hearing, asked Reid what he would substitute for death. “Life in It was by far the most crucial day of the session. Members returned to the chamber Wednesday afternoon after seeing a special showing of “The Alamo” to find on the calendar not only one, but all three of the bills the revenue and tax committee had reported out Monday. The galleries were filled quickly, lobbyists in the back, school children along the sides, and reporters came early for seats at the press table. Rep. Charles Hughes of Sherman, Judy Horton sponsor of the escheats bill and liberal floor leader, nervously worked the floor before the opening gavel, stopping by the table to whisper, “It’s going to be awfully close.” The franchise tax, judged by the governor’s forces as being the less difficult to pass, came first. Rep. Franklin Spears of San Antonio took the front microphone and the fight was on. “This tax is designed to cure the inequities that exist in our present franchise formula,” Spears said. Every state except Washington and Texas have multi-formula franchise levies. This measure would benefit “hometown, domestic, Texas businesses” and would revise rates “on the large interstate corporations doing most of their business outside the state who have an unfair tax advantage.” Spears cited one interstate gas pipeline company which paid $12,000 in franchise taxes out of $15 million in profits, another which paid $313 out of $6 million in profits. Co-sponsor Joe Cannon of Mexia said the bill would not increase the tax “one cent on our 33,000 Texas businesses.” Spears added: “I understand there are people in the House who would like to vote for a sales tax. If you’d like to do so, I’d suggest you vote for this to maintain a balance on taxes and to balance your voting records.” The conservative opposition delivered the first sniper’s bullets of the day. Tom James of Dallas said the tax “will hit those industries with expanding plants and payrolls in Texas.” Ben Jarvis of Tyler said it was “designed to penalize” such businesses. In a swift exchange with Spears on the natural gas pipelines he had mentioned, Jarvis said: “Oh, bull, get off the pipelines. They aren’t examples here. Let’s use something concrete, a corporation that hires Texas people to compete with companies in other states like Lone Star Steel.” J. Edgar Wilson, Amarillo conservative, argued the bill would “pile taxes on top of taxes” on the large corporations. “It’s not a tax on top of a tax,” Spears retorted. “You have to consider what other states do and their relative corporation taxation.” After accepting an amendment by Rep. Murray Watson of Mart giving a tax advantage to businesses expanding their construction within the last five and the next five years, Spears yielded to Rep. Maco Stewart of Galveston. Stewart offered a substitute to increase the present franchise tax 18.5 percent. “I ask you not to change the existing advantages,” ‘Stewart said. “Ask the industrialist which he’d rather have if he has expanding plants and payrolls in Texas. He’d favor the existing tax.” He said the 18.5 percent increase would raise the same amount as the revised tax. Spears argued that the Stewart substitute “would make an already bad-tasting tax completely unpalatable,” and charged the Galveston representative was trying to get his own tax program passed and needed to kill the proposed franchise change to do it. “This will make an inequitable tax even more inequitable for our own Texas businesses.” Spears made the motion to table Stewart’s substitute. There was a burst of activity on the floor, and heads craned to the board for the first big vote of the session. * * * Old Testament Retribution Death Penalty Debated AUSTIN A close analysis of the voting in the hectic Wednesday session which saw the three tax measures ‘wrecked shows that Speaker James Turman was unable to carry a number of his key supporters from the speaker’s race. A change of five votes each on the escheats law, the franchise tax, and the utilities gross receipts tax would have carried the day for the governor. Sixty-two members of the House voted against all three measures. Of these, eight were Turman men: Reps. Steve Speaker’s Men Lost in Vote Burgess, Nelson Cowles, Robert Fairchild, Ben Lewis, Bill Moore, Gus Mutscher, James Slider, and Leon Thurman. In general, the Turman people were rewarded early in the session with choice committee posts. In the escheats fight, the speaker lost 15 of his supporters, including key partisans like Jim Cotten, C. W. Pearcy, Bill Pieratt, George Preston, and Murray Watson. Others voting nay, besides the ones listed among the hard-core 62 Richards and Herman Yezak.
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