back that Texas can raise truly humbling sums of money with a graduated tax on oil production. Not only this, the tax for which Eckhardt got about a third of the House to vote would lower taxes on Texas’ independent oilmen and raise them on only a few companies. These, of course, happened to be the very biggest ones; the majors. The U.S. Bureau of Mines and the U.T. Bureau of Economic Geology have just reported that Texas oil production increased 7% in 1966 and that its value was $3,191,859,000 more than three billion dollars for that one year alone. The governor would not have to “weaken” about a city sales tax or raise the gasoline sales tax if he’d so much as turn his imagination for ten minutes to that three billion dollars. If you now rejoin, “But the legislature and the governor of Texas are bound to be captives of the oil industry,” we shall accuse you of base cynicism and contempt for democracy. Yet even if ’twere so about present officials, there’s still an easy out: the gas industry. The same statistical source shows that in 1966, the Texas natural gas industry produced products worth about a billion and a half dollars. The gas, too, comes out of our common heritage, the land; Texas itself. A legislature determined to enact a constitutional tax on long-line gas pipelines could do so. Past sessions since 1951 have enacted enough unconstitutional ones to demonstrate that this tax is good politics. And there’s yet another possibility, a graduated corporation income tax. There is no excuse for not paying teachers enough. For not caring for the mentally ill and retarded enough. For not paying state employees enough. For not having Medicaid. For letting Big Daddy do it. The politicians have no sympathy coming from us as they “weaken” about this and that. This rich state has no excuse for social poverty. We oppose the governor’s $75 million long-term park program for land buying and development because he wants to finance it with bonds. This is another “weakening,” another failure of nerve. We can wait two years for parks until the legislature will finance them out of revenues properly raised. Bond financing just -enriches bankers out of the public till. We hope the governor does weaken sufficiently in one of his positions, his eloquent silence about a minimum wage. We are going to have to keep a close eye on the legislature on this one. The boys know the heat is on, and the contrast between Texas and the Great Society is too “great.” They’ll pass, maybe, some kind of a minimum wage, with exemptions that will probably be reminiscent of Rep. Will Ehrle’s “natural gas tax” that passed the House before Eckhardt discovered that it exempted natural gas. \( Ehrle became a natural gas lobbyist, and Eckhardt a should enact a $1.25 minimum wage for all workers with no exemptions. TEXAS NEEDS an industrial safety law that has meaningful enforce men t provisions. Each year about 1,000 Texans die of job-connected causes and about another 250,000 residents of our state are injured. Each year. States which have passed adequate job safety laws have found that this toll can be cut in half. The state should prohibit job discrimination in all state work and all political subdivisions. The outcry against the new code of criminal appeals should be resisted in a statesmanlike manner. Some minor revisions may be indicated, but the blood-in-the-eye boys whose speeches sound like editorials in the Dallas Hanging News ought to be dealt with as the redhots they are. The better to cope with crime, we should have state police and deputies’ training academies, and municipalities and counties should pay better to get better-educated and better-trained policemen and deputies. We need a rewriting of all our laws on personal conduct and literary censorship in the light of the values and enlightment of these times. The “permanent committees” system is now established in the House under the Speakership of Ben Barnes. Let there be no mistake about this. These committees have been designated during a conservative, one-party state system. They therefore reflect the politics of that system. As well as anyone else except possibly Waggoner Carr, Speaker Barnes knows that Texas is changing fast into a twoparty system. By 1968 there may be a new governor; not later than 1970 there will. Redistricting has already urbanized the legislature more than the conservatives wanted. Redistricting in 1971 will make it a modern urban legislature with distinctly liberal values that are now no more than a substantial minority of the legislature. No mere change in the House rules is going to stop this evolution. Texas is entering the Twentieth Century. Any succeeding House can change the rules to suit itself. Any liberal-moderate majority in the future can abandon the “permanent committees” system or start it all over again with new “permanent committees.” Presumably, the servants of big business in the legislature and the lobby itself ne.J ern DEMOS IN FESTIVE MOOD FOR INAUGURAL TUESDAY Headline in the Austin’ AmericanStatesman Well, some of then’ were, anyway. Liquor-by-the-drink is what we have already, only we pour our own drinks; we might as well let somebody else do it for us, since we let somebody else do almost everything else for us. Horse-race betting, with the state sharing the booty, doesn’t turn us on as a cause. We want more hard data on how many fathers gamble away their paychecks while their kids go hungry before we rejoice at the prospect of the state going into the gambling business, even if Governor Crocodile’s friends the Murchisons do like the fillies flashing by. And down, down, with constitutional revision! Not to this one-party state, not to this gaggle of pettifoggers, dare we entrust the re-writing of our fundamental law! Around the corner, as they well know, is the two-party state. Then, assured, not of liberals prevailing, but of real competition and democratic debate, we can revise the constitution. Hold the line boyshelp is coming! think they’ve pulled a coup, stacking committees with conservative majorities that could not be upset for six, or even eight legislatures. They are kidding themselves. Rules are made for the times, and the times are changing. _aan Ri g ht The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, in an editorial, calls the Observer “ultraliberal.” We are resigned to that; we are used to it. At least it gets us half-way off the hook with the New Left. The occasion for the editorial in question was the Star-Telegram’s attack on us for saying that the legislature was devious in describing, on the ballot, the constitutional amendment to establish permanent voter registration and abolish the poll tax only as an amendment to abolish the poll tax. Cheers and Salud to Judge Herman Jones of Austin for his ruling in which he held that this wording did, indeed, deceive the voters and did not meet the requirement of the law that the ballot description of an amendment give an adequate idea of its contents. Defending the wording on the ballot, Secretary of State John Hill asserted that there had been no “design to deceive” in the legislature. How Hill, a newcomer to the Austin scene, knew, he didn’t say. We have found, generally, that legislators are pretty good at designing to deceive the public and then deceiving the public about their designs. The Star-Telegram accuses the Observer of wanting a permanent voter registration system because it makes it easier for people to vote. The Cowtown Daily makes this come out sounding pretty suspicious, but they’re right; that’s right; we do. January 20, 1967 3 09uJi J6c/clin. 9 54entoeivei
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