Political Intelligence The Issues Await the Legislators Texas’ 60th legislature will probably devote most attention to: consideration of a $1.25 minimum wage; raising additional money \( Gov. John Connally’s budget, as proposed, is $65 million short under existing taxes and charges, it is estimatneeds for state aid; deciding whether to begin constitutional revision and, if so, establishing the mechanics of the operation; studying the auto insurance rates situation \( see story elsewhere in this isteachers’ demands for another pay raise; considering a law setting up Medicaid \(medical care for the indigent, of all code; wrestling with the recommended tuition increase for state-supported colleges; deciding the touchy questions of legalizing liquor by the drink and parimutuel betting; mulling four-year terms for governors; and providing a raise for state employees. Two budgets are being submitted to the and that of the Legislative Budget Board require no new taxes. The, governor’s budget may carry more weight with the legislature. Texas is the only state that submits two budgets to its lawmakers. The logic of this practice is becoming, more and more, to be questioned, particularly since the recent hassle involving House Speaker Ben Barnes and Lt. Gov. Preston Smith over the firing of budget director Vernon McGee, a step that was viewed as a Connally-backed action \(with Barnes representing the governor’s interof state funds. It has been noted that the Budget Board needs about $125,000 yearly to function, while the governor’s staff can prepare a state budget for about $40,000. g/r The Smith-Barnes rivalry will no doubt be witnessed as the coming session progresses. Some interest has been expressed in how the lieutenant gov ernor will handle committee assignments in the Senate, particularly in the cases of Bill Moore of Bryan and Grady Hazle wood of Amarillo. Moore voted for Mc Gee’s firing in August, opposing Smith on the question; Hazlewood did not vote, which in effect was a vote against McGee. Moore, last session, was chairman of the Education Committee, a major post, and was one of five Senators on a 1965 con ference committee which produced the final version of the appropriations bill. Hazlewood in 1965 was chairman of the powerful State Affairs Committee, among several major positions he’s held in the Senate. Smith maintains that he will con 6 The Texas Observer tinue to pass out committee assignments based largely on . seniority “the way we always have.” However, Smith is also quoted as saying that he’s not sure whether Moore wants reappointment to the Finance Committee. It would be surprising if Moore did not. V A revised set-up is planned for the House of Representatives in the coming session. Rep. DeWitt Hale of Corpus Christi headed a committee to alter the organization of the House. Proposed is reducing the number of committees from 43 to 25, giving the Rules Committee more power, and letting it to establish a House calendar. New Money Needed Where will the new money come from? It seems, at this point, that the sales tax will not be increased, though perhaps one or more of the exemptions may be removed. Other possibilities include the tuition increase, taxing liquor by the drink, boosting the corporate franchise tax, and a one-cent increase in the gasoline tax.. Reported most in favor with the governor right now are the tuition, gasoline tax, and corporate franchise tax raises, and a sales tax on beer. V It is possible, however, that the tui tion increase may not succeed. Numerous legislators throughout the state have hedged on this or have said forthrightly they oppose the increase. V Perhaps surprisingly, the liquor-by the-drink bill may make it. Tourism is now more of a weighty factor in Texas and the growing tourist industry favors this measure. Houston is making a strong bid to get the national Democratic and Republican conventions at the Astrodome; with liquor by the drink they feel their chances will be enhanced. The state’s big papers have spoken out in favor. Some clergymen have also voiced support, on the grounds that the consumption of alcohol in the state would be less by the drink than by the bottle. Parimutuel betting is not likely to be enacted. Who will serve in the legislature? The Senate is believed about evenly divided between liberals and conservatives. Labor leaders set the ratio at 15 liberal-to-moderate members, and 16 moderate-to-conservative Senators. In the House the conservatives are in control, if preliminary impressions prove out. V State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Roy Evans has said that labor is interested in three pieces of legislation in 1967: the $1.25 state minimum wage, a job safety code with teeth, and a workmen’s compensation law for all workers. Evans has predicted passage of the minimum wage, at least. V Lt. Gov. Smith has said he believes the legislature will pass “some sort of minimum wage.” Smith said he believes constitutional revision will be the “most controversial” measure that the lawmakers will consider. And Other Issues I Other issues loom before the legis lators. Rep-elect Rex Braun of Houston has been publicly urging enactment of an anti-pollution measure. V Several legislators and Lt. Gov. Smith have called for enabling legislation to establish Medicaid in Texas; 1970 is the last year the legislature can take such a step. V The threat of nurses organizing a union in Texas will boost the possibility of passing a Professional Nursing Act, which registered nurses are pushing. The act would provide for mandatory licensing and enforcement of professional standards. V State Rep.-elect James Nowlin of San Antonio is considering institution of the ombudsmen system in the .state. An ombudsman represents citizens who feel that they have grievances against a state or local government and would seek to remedy abuses and errors of government administrators. V The Sunday closing law, passed by the legislature several years back, may be brought up for revision, to make it enforceable. fr0 The eleven flotorial districts in the House must be done away with by Aug. 1, 1967, according to the existing court ruling. County conventions of political par ties in the four counties that have more than one senatorial district may be done away with, in fivor of district conventions. V The Senators must draw lots to see who will serve two and who four years. Redistricting interrupted the overlapping terms set-up. When the drawing will be done is at issue; Lt. Gov. Smith favors waiting until the 1967 session is ending, but some Senators would prefer that the drawing be at the start of the coming term. V The legislature will boost the teach ers’ salary schedule by $500, believes Joe Fisher, executive secretary of the Houston Teachers Association. If so, the beginning minimum pay for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree will be $5,800. Financing such an increase would be a problem unforeseen in either of the two proposed state budgets. IV A statewide industrial revenue bond program is being proposed to enable localities to set up bond-financed assist
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