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March 26, 1971 3 Low camp at the Legislature The tax bill is the eternal hang-up of the state legislature: it is that which evokes endless procrastinStion and forces special sessions. It’s the one legislators never want to face up to. Less than two months into the 62nd Legislature, the House of Representatives passed a tax bill. But instead of a serious attempt to confront the state’s most pressing problem, there is every indication that the House tax bill is nothing more than a bit of oneupmanship, a meretricious piece of grandstanding. In the first place, House Speaker Gus Mutscher, up to his ears in the SEC stock fraud scandal, needed to show ‘ that ‘he could by-god move the House, to prove his leadership ability, to show he isn’t a klutz. In the second place, many representatives have been smarting under the realization that the Senate and its leader Lt. Gov. Ben publicity. Every one of the representatives who voted for the $492 million tax bill to whom the Observer has talked is perfectly aware that the bill doesn’t stand a chance in the Senate. Even Gov. Preston Smith said that although he commends the House for its “prompt and businesslike approach,” he doesn’t think the Senate will concur on the bill. Barnes said flatly that the bill has no chance in the Senate. He said the House would have to come up with a better “balance” between consumer and business taxes to win Senate approval. The only question is whether there is any semblance of balance in the House-passed tax bill. Rep. JaCk R. HaWkins of Groesbeck rose on the. HOuse floor the day after Barnes’ comments .on the House tax bill appeared in the papers to inveigh against the vile aspersion that the House bill is unbalanced. While his Colleagues shouted, “Right on!” “Attaway!!’ and “Yew tell ’em, boy!” `Hawkins spoke heatedly of the soul-searching and brain-stretching House members had gone through to come up with their bill. It includes no corporate income levy of any kind. It does include a: hike in the state sales tax 4rorn x.25 percent to four percent five : percent in the areas that have a `one-penny city sales tax. It includes an increase in both the auto sales tax and the hotel occupancy tax from three to four percent; a new 10 percent tax on admissions to professional sporting events, amusements, parks and dance halls; a five cent per gallon tax on jet aviation fuel; a hike in taxes on mudshell dredged off the Texas coast to 60 cents a cubic yard; and a new $1 tax on every stock or bond transfer. Rep. Ben Atwell of Dallas was the author of this piece of people’s legislation. A major part of the House package tax is a fat tuition increase, doubling the tuition at state colleges for Texas residents and more than doubling it for out-of-staters. Tuition would go from $50 a semester to $105 a semester for Texans and fro -in $200 to $705 for out-of-staters. Both the Senate and the House have approved a $185 million bond program to finance new university and medical school facilities. The House tax bill comes out stacked four to one in favor of direct consumer taxes as opposed to direct taxes on business. It passed the House by exactly the necessary two-thirds majority, with Gus Mutscher providing the margin for the bill on a 100-49 split. * * * Proposals of note: Rep. Curtis Graves of Houston, undissuaded by the N.R.A. members who threatened to shoot him last time around, has once again introduced a gun control bill. His proposal applies to handguns only; provides for a system of licensing and registration similar to the system that covers automobiles; excludes convicted felons and mental incompetents from gun ownership; and provides for a 10-day “cooling off” period before a gun license can be granted. Rep. Dave Allred of Wichita Falls, a newsman, has introduced a bill that would protect reporters’ sources of information. The bill would grant newsmen immunity from being forced to testify in certain legal proceedings about their sources. The bill would not exempt reporters from having to give testimony on any crime they might witness or have information about. Despite heavy backing from many of the state’s super-Establishment newspapers, the bill is not given much chance of passing. * * * FYI: Ron Jones, the new-new head of the Parks and Wildlife Department, is the very same Ron Jones who got on J. Pearce Johnson’s team and fought hard there on the Mustang Island question. Johnson picked up an ally and a majority on the P & W Commission when Preston Smith