Lighting Up the Lobby * * * Semantic Revelations ..aoughb o,i the Seiiion Someone remarked on the floor after the governor’s speech this week, “Maybe the tax committee ought to change its name to the ‘committee on semantics and euphemisms’.” It might not, after all, be a bad idea. We are now almost universally agreed that the governor has come out for a sales tax, and it will remain a sales tax whether you call it a Pennsylvania Plan, a Somaliland Plan, or a Virgin Islands Use and Excise Tax. To draw the tax issue on its cleanest terms, we urge House members to give a thumping vote to the Korioth-sponsored personal income tax when it reaches the floor. The voters of this state aren’t going to be deceived by linguistic gerrymandering. They deserve the opportunity of knowing that an income tax was offered on its own towering merits. While opposing the sham of a general sales tax under the most convenient pseudonym, and while battling the more egregious specifics in the governor’s programthe tuition boost and the beer tax increase House liberals should continue to back the other taxes which reach the floor this week : the escheat bill, the two-factor formula corporation tax, the gas pipelines tax. Nor should they be deceived by the big guns of the oil and gas lobby, who are being sophistical as seldom before in calling the pipelines proposal a tax on “producers.” At the hearing before the tax commitee, with Abington and Britain and Foster and Kuykendall, the foremost spokesmen for the majors, saying they were there to defend the poor, hard-pressed Texas producer, it was rather ironical that the independents themselves were for some reason not there at all. A soundly constitutional tax, on the pipelines, let no one forget, is one of the most crucial issues in recent Texas history. Its chances of passing the House have never been better. The Senate, meanwhile, has passed the same appropriations bill it approved on the last night of the regular session. It strikes down the juvenile parole system, it leaves the prisons with the same scarcity of guards that prompted 0. B. Ellis during the hearings in March to warn that “we have a lot of hell in store for us,” it denies the department of public welfare its additional social workers. It continues the same old neglect and niggardliness. Yet there are those who would finance it with the most regressive tax of all. In so doing they are perpetrating nothing short of a social crime. _An illuotriouo .3hir FROM THE INSIDE There were ten key votes in the regular session of the legislature. A study of those votes reveals that 30 members of the Texas House, when the chips were down, were found not to be lacking in a curious kind of valor all their own. The Illustrious Thirty voted against the escheat bill ; against a motion to reconsider the earlier defeat of the escheat bill ; against a personal income tax amendment to HB 727 ; for the adoption of the main committee amendment to HB 727, which was the two percent general sales tax ; for the passage to third reading of HB 727; against tabling a motion to postpone consideration of a corporate income tax; for pone the tax on dedicated reserves of natural gas; against a motion not to concur in the Senate amendments to J. C. Adams of Lubbock Mrs. Myra Banfield of Rosenberg Ben Barnes of De Leon R. A. Bartram of New Braunfels John E. Blaine of El Paso Jerry Butler of Kenedy Jack Connell of Wichita Falls George Cook of Odessa Will Ehrle of Childress Robert Fairchild of Center Paul Floyd of Houston Wayne Gibbens of Breckenridge Bill Heatly of Paducah Robert Hughes of Dallas Tom James of Dallas The House paused self-consciously during the eulogies to veteran representative Marshall Bell Monday afternoon. When they were over, the legislators began moving about again in the eternally clacking game of shaking hands, slapping backs, and guffawing mutually and at the proper moment. The first day his empty seat was given the respect it deserved. It remained empty. There was a bowl of white flowers where he used to put his feet. But after the first day it was in occupancy again, by diverse spectators, perambulating legislators, and camp-followers. The sting of death has no place in an arena reserved for practicing politicians. Oldtimers in the legislature say Marshall was a pretty mean man in earlier days. He was probably the greatest enemy of organized labor in the House. During .the McCarthy years he took the lead in endorsing HB 334, which was the sales tax, the tax on domestic gas producers, and the increased one-factor franchise tax ; and finally, on the last night of the regular session, for the motion to concur in the Senate amendments to HB 334. In other words,. the Illustrious Thirty voted two times against the escheat bill, once against a personal income tax, once against a corporate income tax, twice against a tax on the Eastern pipeline companies, twice for a tax increase on Texas gas producers, and four times for a general retail sales tax. To the Illustrious Thirty, our Warm congratulations for this unerring insight into the political values you hold most dear. You shall not go unrecognized: Ben Jarvis of Tyler Robert Johnson of. Dallas Bill Jones of Dallas Ben Lewis of Dallas Frank McGregor of Waco W. T. Oliver . of Port Neches Jesse Osborn of Muleshoe Joe Ratcliff of Dallas David Read of Big Spring Wesley Roberts of Lamesa Wade Spilman of McAllen Roger Thurmond of Del Rio Byron Tunnel’ of Tyler Bill Walker of Cleveland J. Edgar Wilson of Amarillo the harsh, unrealistic legislation which made a nightmare of that era in Texas. But then he mellowed : he became the Marshall Bell we on the Observer came to know and, in a curious way, to like. We remember him as a kind of homespun, gentleman’s politician in his red suspenders and broadrimmed hat. He called the editor “My boy,” and he once confessed he kept a complete file of back Observers from the first day the paper started publishing. The florid resolutions, the eulogies, all missed the mark, as lush bourgeois oratory always does. There was no semblance there to Marshall the human being: a human being of strange contradictions, of abiding individuality. We shall miss him there on the back row, his feet thrown on the desk, his head cocked to the ceiling, grumbling about wasted time and foolish taxes. To give a slightly opposing, but no less flavorful, interpretation of the Austin lobbying problem, we quote here a veteran lobbyist who will remain anonymous.Ed. AUSTIN A tough lobby law isn’t going to turn a bad lobbyist into a good lobbyist anymore than a conflict-of-interest law will turn a bad legislator into a statesman. But it don’t matter to me if they tighten up the law. If I can’t operate under it legitimately I’ll get out of the business. Frankly, I don’t think it will change lobbying much. I don’t recall a particle of difference after the 1957 law. Not a particle. Now, the governor talks about lobbyists swarming around the capitol. I’ve been in Austin 30 years now and I bet I haven’t spent 30 minutes in the gallery. I never called anybody off the floor during the debate, or telephoned them. But some lobbyists are lonely. They really are. This isn’t their home, and they need ‘somebody to talk with ; they need to address, reason; or conversation with somebody, so they go up to the capitol. But a lot of them stand around lobbying with each other, and really they don’t get around to talking to the legislators themselves. As I say, I just don’t spend time at the capitol, and a lot of the boys stay away from there. If you want them, you’ll find them in their offices. Take a fellow like Jack Harris, he’s been representing a group of utilities for a long time ; nine times out of ten you’ll find him in his office. Or on the other side, you take Tom Reavley, a fine young man, just as soon have him the executor of my estate as anybody I knowhe represents the REA’s and other clients. You’ll find him in his office, if you want him. Or Claude Wild, who works for Humble, you’ll find Claude in his office. Jack Davenport for TIPROI don’t think I’ve ever seen him at the capitol, and some say TIPRO has more influence with the people than, say, the Mid-Continent crowd. W. H. Abington, who represents . Mid-Continent, he’s up around the capitol a lot. John Osorio, I don’t know him too well, he represents Sears Roebuck and some investment bankers and a whole raft of other clients; it has been pointed out to me that he is never at the capitol. He uses a couple of legmen. Another reason he may not go to the capitol is that he got way, way out on a limb in the speaker’s race and in the attorney general’s race. A LOT of good lobbyists do go up there, of course. Some of the major oil lobbyists are around there all the time, good men. Hugh Stewart for Magnolia; I consider him a fine, high-class, honorable man; he’s up there. And the railroad lobby, there’s 10 or 12 of them there all the time. So do the trucks, Weaver Moore in the Senate and a boy named Bryan in the House. Yes, yes sir, good ones do frequent the corridors. Some lobbyists stay away, study the bills, write their recommendations. Some play it by ear ; they talk. That part of the lobby control bill that would make group-lobbyists tell where their money came from, well, I’ll say this: If they put that on the books and apply it fair and uniform, both sides, well . . . I don’t think they should make a manufacturers’ association divulge and divet itself of information about its support and then turn the labor unions loose to raise money directly and indirectly by any means and not give comparable information. In other words, I don’t think they should make the utilities undress in public if the REA’s get to keep their pants on. I’ll say this, no lobbyist helped write the tax bills introduced by Korioth, Wilson, or Hinson. Lane got no council, no assistance, no advice from the lobby. And so far as I knowand I think I would know the lobby didn’t change one vote on that last ballot on the tax bill in the House. The lobby was just up there ducking and dodging and trying to get long. As far as I know, the only jostling around was done by representatives of the people. Nobody in the lobby worked onetenth as hard as the governor has worked. He’s a hard worker ; he gives the legislators the treatment, if you want to call it that, an injection or something. He sees two or three times more legislators than any governor I’ve ever known. He’s fed more legislators than any four other governors combined. I admire him for it. I like him. He hired out to represent all the people, and I think he’s trying to do a conscientious job. Anyway, I’m not mad at him. I remember standing on the capitol steps with Gov. Fergusonyou could have a lot of fun with himand he said to me, now don’t go getting mad at so many people. You can’t afford to get mad at more than one person at a time, he told me. I’ve remembered that. Right now I’m not mad at anybody. Tilarihal l ee l/
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.