Observer Notebook The Texas Senate, which has killed more good .legislation by the easier tactic of the deep-freeze than by straightforward homicide before the voting public on the Senate floor, may be well on its way to freezing Rep. Criss Cole’s loan sharks bill for the rest of the session. A quiet campaign involving loan sharks lobbyists and a handful of co-operative senators is now at work. They hope to keep the bill in the Senate state affairs committee until it is too late. Despite the resounding vote in the House for the measure, even despite the constitutional amendment approved by the electorate last November which was a clear and unequivocal mandate for legislative regulation, they may succeed if something isn’t done soon. “These powerful out-of-state loan sharks, whose hands have been opposing small loan regulation in other states, are now hard at work in Texas,” Atty. Gen. Wilson warned this week. And Rep. Malcolm McGregor, one of the chief architects of the Cole legislation, told the Houston Press the loan shark lobby “is putting terrific pressure on senators to keep this bill bottled up. These lobbyists represent the so-called ‘small small Speaker Turman and Lt. Gov. Ramsey got together this week to confer on the tax situation, and afterwards they said they believed the legislature could finish things up by May 29. Ramsey, who ran for re-election along with a number of other gentlemen in opposition to a general sales tax, showed a fine talent for semantic juggling when he said HB 727 might be all right with him. “It depends on how you define ‘general sales tax,’ ” Ramsey said. “Wilson’s bill does have some exemptions there.” The exemptions might not be broad enough, but the area of compromise is broad enough to pass a tax bill, he said. Last weekend Gov. Daniel said he could not “in good conscience” sign the House-passed tax if it reaches him in its present form. “Neither would I permit it to become law without my signature unless substantial changes are made to provide a more equitable balance between the burden on individuals and business and unless compensating corporation and natural gas taxes are enacted to meet the balance of our tax needs.” This week, as you may have noted, while the Senate successor to the dethroned Bill Fly as “heir-apparent”, Ray Roberts, was being feted as governor for a day by the lobby, Daniel and Uncle Ben took off for a jaunt to Mexico City. Is there a thread running through all this? It is not unlikely that the play for a sales tax is on in earnest; political promises can go to the wind. The situation in the House deteriorates every day. With a sad absence of effective leadership from the gov ernor, the liberal-moderate coalition which elected a speaker in January has, in May, degenerated into an amorphous group fighting rear-guard lenders,’ who make loans of $100 or less. These lenders were largely responsible for the violations and injustices which led the people of Texas to demand that the legislature clean up the situation.” Sens. Bill Moore of Bryan, Frank Owen of El Paso, Louis Crump of San Saba, and Hubert Hudson of Brownsville are leading the effort to keep the bill in cold storage. Surely they must know that, in applying the freeze, they are courting political disaster. After approval of the constitutional amendment, the continued existence of loan shark abuses could be employed as a major issue against status quo senators in ’62. The Cole bill, quite simply, aims to regulate those petty lenders who for decades have been gouging the people with exorbitant interest rates. The time is long past for an end to their selfish and shady activities. Further delay will only serve to thwart one of the most pressing and needed reforms in Texas. It will mean that the sharks will continue to thrive on those very people who’ are most in need of the protection and the assistance of their state government. Passage of the bill would be a vindication of the people against one of the most cynical lobbies of them all. actions, riddled by wholesale desertions. The speaker himself, from all indications, is beginning to desert the very coalition which elected him. Without strong guidance from Daniel and Turman, the corporate income tax and the Eckhardt natural gas tax won’t stand an even chance. For that matter, the escheats bill, that weathervane of foundering consciences, hasn’t even been passed yet! Elected reprsentatives, like the daily papers, are showing their true colors on the corporate income tax. They would see a two per cent sales tax passed onto the people without pause; they oppose, in the same breath, a measure that would abolish entirely the inequitable franchise tax which has been discriminatory to small, home-based Texas industry and which primarily hits the large inter-state corporations. Juxtaposed with their overweening zeal for a tax on small incomes, their opposition to the corporate tax merely embellishes their tawdry, time-serving self-interests. Watch the vote Tuesday on the corporate income tax. It will provide the handiest voter’s guide in twenty years. In the vote this week to postpone consideration of the corporate tax, a ploy which was sponsored by the overtime talents of the Congress Avenue Knights, 56 representatives who voted for the sales tax voted also to postpone. The names in boldface among these 56 have also voted this session against the escheats bill, the loophole bill, and the revised franchise tax. These, let there be no doubt, should be allowed to return to Austin only for football games and PTA conventions : AUSTIN Sen. Ralph Yarborough, speaking in favor of the Kennedy medical care plan for the aged, read on the Senate floor this week a letter he received from an insurance agent in Gonzales: “An elderly couple has been living near Gonzales, \\ in utter poverty. A neighbor lady noted the other day that she had not seen them lately, so she went over to check on them. “She found the lady had been burned terribly several days earlier, and was just lying there suffering. She and her husband got her to town to the county doctor. He treated her and quickly used up the old man’s $69, and sent her home to the shack, with no food, no medicine, not even an aspirin, and said she was all right. “The neighbors persuaded another doctor to look at the old lady; he threw up his hands, said she was dying and needed to be in a first class hospital, such as at Galveston. He treated her, and is having her bandages changed daily, per the report. “The neighbors have gone to the county authorities, the Red Cross, the welfare people, without getting any aid for the burned woman. Now, the neighbors are poor people too ; they are feeding the couple, but they can’t help the old woman in her misery. It is anticipated that she will die quickly and be out of her misery.” * * * Robert Welch, in his canned speech delivered to promote the John Birch Society on his recent visit to Texas, stated, among many other things, that “communist riot tactics” are being used, as shown in the film, “Operation Abolition,” and by the fact that a young California newspaperman had been subjected to ‘brutal physical attack” for “writing anticommunist things in his newspaper.” “Just what does it take to make the American people see the communist steamroller at work?” Welch Wednesday in San Francisco, Robert Meisenbach, the student indicted on a charge of grabbing a policeman’s club and hitting him with it, thus setting off the “San Francisco riots,” was acquittedfound not guilty. The film, “Operation Abolition,” states as a fact \(without showing any picriot by grabbing a policeman’s club and hitting hiM with it. An Observer subscriber in California has sent us two clippings from Los Angeles newspapers. A 20-yearold student editor’s story of being beaten up by “five or six” thugs because of his anti-communist views was branded as a hoax by Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess of Los Angeles County \(Los Angeles Times, April ings on radio and TV. Pitchess said he confessed he inflicted the injuries on himself, explaining, “It was up to me to do anything I could to wake people up”to arouse the public who have shown a “pathetic lack of interest in the Communist menace.” * * * William M. Hatten, the Houston lawyer who is taking his daughter from the University of Texas because she was required to read J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, now says he is going to bring up the matter at the national convention of those widely-read scholars and lovers of fine literature, the Fraternal Order of Eagles. After Hatten sent letters to ranking state officials about Salinger’s pernicious prose, Gov. Daniel said he will read the book and ask UT officials why it is required reading in some English courses. Honoring the Loan Sharks Senate eTieep 5reeze 5ax notei SEND US YOUR NOMINATIONS TODAY! In the Texas House of Representatives, Who Are Your Choices For: TMA Rookie of the Year TMA Man of the Year Pipelines Rookie of the Year Pipelines Man of the Year Winners will be chosen on the basis of thoroughness, zeal, effectiveness, friendliness, and dogmatism. Only those gentlemen who have proven their devotion beyond the call of duty to TMA and the Pipelines will be considered, however. Send this blank to Texas Observer, 504 W. 24th St., Austin.
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