An attorney for former Rep. Walter Knapp, convicted of theft for using House postage stamps to purchase a pickup truck, argued before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that Knapp’s use of the stamps was authorized by a House reimbursement resolution. Wayne Scott of San Antonio, Knapp’s lawyer, also told the court that Knapp’s trial was held in the wrong county, since he did not own the stamps until they reached him by mail in Amarillo. Knapp was tried in Austin. Rep. John Allen, who recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of nepotism and escaped prosecution for felony conspiracy, may be the subject of a floor fight when he resumes his seat in January. Rep.-elect Larry Bales of Austin has urged that Allen be expelled. Rep. Price Daniel, Jr., says he would like to avoid a damaging expulsion debate, but told a press conference he has not decided whether to ask Allen to resign. Sen. Tom Creighton of Mineral Wells has filed a bill to renew the death penalty for murder. P. Smith predicts Endorsing a $40.9 million federal revenue-sharing check the other day, Gov. P. Smith optimistically predicted that the state will need no new taxes in 1973. Smith estimated the feds will send Texas more than $300 million in revenue-sharing money during the next biennium. Based on the influx of new federal funds, the Legislative Budget Board and Speaker-apparent Price Daniel, Jr., also are speculating that the Legislature will be spared a new-tax trauma during the upcoming session. State Reps. Carl Parker of Port Arthur and Dan Kubiak of Rockdale have been named in two civil suits claiming they and others failed to pay for some furniture they bought on credit. The petition charges that in 1971 the defendants set up Family Furniture, Inc., of Corpus Christi “for the sole and exclusive purpose of defrauding persons, firms and corporations selling goods and merchandise on credit by dissemination of false financial information as to the net worth and value of Family Furniture . . . ” The legislators and their friends are being sued by Monarch Manufacturing Co.; Academy Industries, a project of the Texico Conference Association of Seventh Day Adventists of Corsales, N.M.; Gillespie Furniture Co.; Addison Products Co.; Giddings Manufacturing Co.; Alton Lamps; KCS and Associates and Falcon Manufacturing. tax and a corporate profits tax. Congressman Bob Poage spent part of December leading his House Agriculture Committee through Sudan, Ethiopia, India and Bangladesh to study how U.S. surplus commodities are being used. He was accompanied by two Texas committee members, Kika de la Garza of Mission and Bob Price of Pampa, and a Austin “Lobbyist” will not necessarily be a dirty word during the 1973 legislative session. Nestled among the ranks of oil and insurance and banking lawyers will be some members of the third house who don’t care a whit about getting a tax break for independent oil producers or increasing the legal interest rate on small loans. Of course, there have always been non-business lobbyists organized labor, teachers, police and firemen, for example. Some minor special-interest groups have virtually terrorized legislators in the past. The beauticians and cosmetologists come immediately to mind. Weary solons have been willing to give the industry most anything their lobbyists could agree upon, anything to sidestep the much-dreaded record-breaking committee hearings in which elaborately-coifed, long-winded hairdressers held forth on the cruel inequities of the cosmetology regulations. Filibustering legislators into submission is one way for a special-interest group to get its way. The groups to be discussed in this issue, however, probably will be trying a rare and daring approach on the Texas Legislature information and reason. THE TEXAS Consumer Association’s most ambitious legislative project is a drastic revision of Chapter 10 of the Texas Consumer Credit Code. TCA President Lloyd Doggett authored a well-documented attack of the Credit Code in the Texas Law Review a couple of years ago, and his opinion of the measure has anything but mellowed. “Texans have been blessed with one gift horse another another, all done in the latest style of consumerism,” Doggett told Sen. Ralph Hall’s Interim Committee on Consumer Protection. “The loan companies draft a ‘Consumer’ Credit Code and later seek to raise the outrageous rates thereunder through the guise of `truth-in-lending.’ The auto dealers sponsor a bill which ostensibly protects the public from auto dealers by establishing a commission populated with auto dealers passel of staff people. According to Sarah McLendon, other Texans were also taking December junkets Sen. and Mrs. Lloyd Bentsen to Germany for a NATO meeting and Rep. Richard White of El Paso to Israel and Turkey to study census taking for the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee. and authorized to institute Zero Population Growth for new auto dealerships. The ‘free games’ people, who plague businessmen as well as consumers, amend the ‘Consumer’ Credit Code to legitimize their practices, while the insurance lobbyists obtain complete exemption therefrom.” The TCA’s Consumer Remedies Act would amend the Credit Code to allow consumer class actions. It would give city, county and district attorneys the same consumer protection powers now afforded the state attorney general. And it would provide individual plaintiffs in consumer cases with a minimum recovery of $300 in damages, attorney’s fees, injunctive relief when applicable and various other forms of judicial relief. Under the TCA bill, the insurance industry would no longer be exempted from consumer credit rules as it has been in the past. The reform measure would provide a new . list of “deceptive practices” in the Consumer Credit Code. The attorney general and the consumer credit commissioner would be directed to use a broad rather than narrow interpretation of “false, deceptive and misleading” practices. The prohibited practices would include referral sales schemes and the turning back of odometers. The TCA already has chalked up some success in stopping odometer tamperers. Two TCA members in El Paso, District Attorney Steve Simmons and lawyer Clinton Cross, cajoled the a.g. into a major crackdown on El Paso car dealers who allegedly were turning back the mileage indicators on used cars. In October, thirty-nine El Paso dealers were served permanent injunctions, prohibiting them from fooling with odometers. The day the injunction was announced, former State Rep. Gene Fondren, the lobbyist for the Texas Automobile Dealers Association of El Paso auto entrepreneurs on the hazards of new federal legislation December 29, 1972 9 The Texas Farmers Union at its annual convention called for the Legislature to control expansion of agribusiness and to pass a natural resource Freshmen in the Third House
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