3–*-+4. February 2, 1973 7 someone more or less acceptable to the lobby just in order to get an appointment through. Twice last year Smith had appointments to the insurance commission blocked by the Senate. Daniel’s feelings on competitive rates aside, it would be nice to have a strong insurance committee in the House. One man who wanted the job was the veteran Ed Harris of Galveston. Ed Harris is a gentle soul of strong integrity, a lawyer and a Thirtian. He had served a couple of terms on the judiciary committee, in which he was deeply interested, so Mutscher naturally bumped him off judiciary and put him on the insurance committee. Harris philosophically set to work to learn about insurance and wound up one of the most knowledgeable members of that committee, according to members who don’t even agree with him. Each member puts in three choices for committees. Harris exercised his seniority option, which is only good for one committee, to get on the crucial appropriations committee, as any member would have. He also requested insurance. He also had some people lobbying for him. One was big, burly Nick Nichols, the welder who is chairman of the Harris County delegation, which now accounts for one-fifth of the votes in the House. Nichols didn’t ask Daniel for anything for himself, but he did ask that Ed Harris be named insurance chairman. Dave Allred, another Thirtian who also happens to know something about insurance \(he Harris’ case. Harris did not get the chairmanship. He did not get the vice-chairmanship. He did not get on the insurance committee. He was named chairman of the elections committee. Daniel says the elections committee is very important. Daniel says lots of people told him the elections committee was very important and he really needed two or three Ed Harrises out there, there really just weren’t enough guys like Ed to go around. The Observer is unable to find anyone who thinks the elections committee is anywhere near as important as the insurance committee. Said Harris, “I have never been on the elections committee before, I have never been interested in elections before but I presume I will become interested in elections, since I am now the chairman.” One hates to pre-judge the disposition of a committee before it has even set to work, but there are quite a few people prepared to walk naked through the rotunda if Daniel’s insurance committee reports out any significant reforms. The chairman Daniel named instead of Harris was Ben Bynum of Amarillo, who was last seen merrily leaving the capitol with Will Davis, another arch-insurance lobbyist. There are two ways to look at Daniel’s choices of chairmen: who has never been considered one of the mental giants in the House. Calendar, hyper-thyroid extrovert who was recently named in two civil suits for non-payment on furniture. Bynum on Insurance and Allen on House Administration. Revenue and Taxation, Terry Doyle, said to be an independent but voted with Mutscher, a somewhat unknown quantity with a few liberal admirers; recently, of all bizarre things, the target of a murder plot; best guess is that a corporate income tax bill couldn’t be gotten out of the committee. State Affairs, a -key committee, Dave Finney of Fort Worth, whose infamous “consumer credit protection” bill of last session would have raised the interest rates on loans astronomically; friend of those laughingly known as loan sharks. Liquor Regulation, chaired by Frank Lombardino of San Antonio and vice-chaired by Jumbo Ben Atwell, who sometimes has difficulty regulating his own intake. However, if you want to look on the bright side: Appropriations, Neil Caldwell, the elfin 30ian, who, when asked how he liked his vice-chairman \(Richard Slack of Pecos, who is probably closer to Heatly deadpan, “Oh, I insisted on him.” Education, Dan Kubiak of Rockdale, a liberalish fellow who actually writes books. Environmental Affairs, John Bigham of the 30. Human Resources, Carlos Truan of Corpus, hard-working, of the 30. Labor, Jim Clark, a labor representative. Reapportionment, the aforementioned Fred Head, who was certainly owed something. The good Lord and Price Daniel, Jr., know that making committee assignments is not easy. Daniel’s group tried. First they put everybody down according to their three choices. Then they shifted them around to provide minority representation on each committee blacks, browns, women and Republicans. Then they shifted some more for geographical balance and delegational balance. Then they looked at how that came out. They tried to give the freshmen fair play. And although Daniel does not admit/mention it, he was doubtlessly hearing from the lobby and hearing and hearing and hearing. The best theory on what happened to Harris is that somebody must have thrown an absolute fit about his getting insurance. But why would Daniel, who got elected by luck, pluck and Fred Head, pay any attention to a lobbyist’s fit? One insider observed that when you reduce the number of committees, as Daniel did under the new rules, it turns out to be surprisingly hard to stack them. There are, so far, two noticeable directions to the Daniel regime. One is a very real commitment to cleaning up the internal workings of the House. The House has already passed an excellent set of rules and internal reforms. As near as one can tell by rhetoric, conversation and attitude, Daniel is dead determined to run the House cleanly and fairly. He also, according to aides, is not into political in-fighting. Rumors have already started that Price, Jr., and Atty. Gen. John Hill have formed an alliance with the object of cutting Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby out of the running for governor in two years. This speculation is based largely on the singularly unimportant fact that Colin Carl, Hill’s legislative liaison man, and Carlton Carl, Daniel’s aide, are brothers. T-here is Daniel-Hill cooperation going on, but there is no reason to assume that it’s nefarious. Daniel’s co-operative attitude is multi-lateral. On at least two occasions cited by aides, when they advised him how to make to a certain move in order to get the lion’s share of the credit, Daniel has made it emphatically clear that he is not playing that game: that if something good comes out of the Legislature, .the credit should go equally to Briscoe, Hobby and himself. One of his more sceptical aides took quite a bit of convincing that Daniel would not tolerate gamesmanship, but is now a true believer. It seems entirely safe to assume that Daniel is indeed committed to the sort of non-partisan, all-purpose, clean government programs espoused, for example, by his ally Buck Wood, now the director of Common Cause. The question is, now that we have an open House, is there anything else we can expect from Daniel? And so far, the answer seems to be no. Daniel has said he has no legislative program. Good-government oriented bills we have, but where are the people-oriented bills? Where are the ideas, the programs, the reforms that will affect the way people live in this state, not just how the House operates? Daniel seems to think that now that he’s opened up the House, the programs will flow magically from the newly-independent members and go sailing through. But we seriously doubt that without the speaker’s organization behind them such bills will go through. Welfare reform, tax structure, consumer protection, environment, parks, schools, education the Observer’s special issue of four years ago on “Reform in Texas” is still sadly current, and there is not much time. The lobby will be back next session when reform will be a dead issue. There is now in the House, even among those who do not quite trust Daniel, an inclination to wait and see, to sit on old doubts. Ed Harris, for example, carefully voted last week against a procedural motion questioning the chair just so Daniel wouldn’t think Harris was hitter about the insurance appointment. M.I.
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