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250 E..c:1 013SE,R A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South May Z 1971 Liquor, money & other stuff Austin The House has developed a penchant for marathons; first the Great Ethics Debate, then liquor-by-the-drink, then appropriations. In the peculiar time-warp of such events, when all the speeches and amendments and points of order seem to flow into one indistinguishable blur and no one can quite remember why they’re doing all this, it’s difficult to sort out whether it’s a farce or the last, great hope of mankind. In retrospect, the House’s two-day liquor-by-the-drink set-to was the only marathon to date which has produced legislation that will actually affect the people of the state. The Great Ethics Debate produced a bill which is totally unacceptable to the Senate and the House members who wrote it, doctored it and voted for it knew that. A meaningless charade. The appropriations marathon 12 hours, five minutes and 90 amendments was a farce of a different color. The appropriations bill passed by the House will go to a conference committee from whence it will probably emerge bearing little or no resemblance to that on which the House expended so much time and effort. And they all knew that. But strains of Thermopylae, a noble Custerism, Horatius at the bridge, high heroics, low camp and, as always, much boredom, were involved in that marathon. The liquor-by-the-drink debate began late Thursday, April 15, when the bill was finally passed out of committee after a three-week delay. The bill, sponsored by Reps. DeWitt Hale of Corpus and Dick McKissack of Dallas, was strongly backed by the speaker’s team. Apparently it had gotten stuck in committee because the tenuous compromise between out-of-state distillers, wholesalers and retailers had broken down and much negotiation was required to put it back together again. WHEN HALE brought the bill up on the House floor Friday, he stoutly declared that it was a 69-way, double-flip, super-spin emergency, that the House had to move on it that very day and no later. Hale told the House that state law required that the bill be approved by the Legislature 30 days before it could be placed on local ballots and local elections are set for May 18. In order to get the bill considered as an emergency measure, Hale needed a two-thirds vote from the House to suspend all rules. He didn’t get it; missed by five. Members stood around waiting for the speaker’s team to start putting on the screws, twisting arms, jimmying out the five votes. But lo, Hale appeared five minutes later and announced that there had been a happy mistake. They didn’t need a 30-day headstart on local elections after all they only needed 20 days, so there was time enough to have the bill properly placed on Monday’s calendar without having to get a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules. However, the team still had to have a two-thirds vote to get the thing on the May 18 ballot, an end much desired by the team and the liquor lobby. Some heavy politicking went on over the weekend. The opposition was a motley lot, composed of real drys, Republicans and wet liberals who were holding out their votes, hoping to get the team to trade out for single-member districts. The single-member district question is a much-vexed one. Good-faith liberals will earnestly state there is no more important reform that single member districts are the key to more representative and democratic government in this state. They believe that single-member districting will produce about 15 Republicans in the blacks and chicanos and heavy cuts into the strength of the Tory Democrats. However, other liberals downgrade the reform potential in such a move, asserting that it would produce upwards of 40 Republicans, \(“So what?” inquired a Houston liberal. “Do you really think `Mad Dog’ Mengden is doing more harm members and would spell defeat for some liberals \(among whom they number to the Tory Democrats. There was a steady erosion of the drys during Monday’s debate on the