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Constitutional Revision commission. \(The changes were ones Senate sponsor Nelson Wolff thought he could live with. He moved for Senate concurrence in the amendments the next day. But the Senate, by a vote of 20-10, chose to send the resolution to a conference committee to House members, in contrast, had seemed content to let most of the amendments be ho-hummed into the resolution. They did get exercised over a floor amendment by Rep. Craig Washington, a black lawyer from Houston, requiring that the members of the commission be “fairly and equitably representative .of the sexes, ethnic groups, social groups, economic groups and geographical regions of the state.” The original version said only that the members should be “broadly representative of the people of Texas.” The most pointed opposition came from Republicans who wanted “political parties” inserted as another specified consideration. Then again, only 14 of the 50 members who voted to table the Washington amendment were Republicans. There was another wrangle over the amount to be paid to commissioners per diem. The Senate version called for $50; the Rules Committee amendment raised it to $100. The House listened to arguments about enabling working folks to serve, heard periodic bulletins from Rep. Fred Agnich’s pocket calculator on the projected total costs, and finally voted to keep the $50 purdime, as they insisted on calling it. A limited legislative confirmation procedure was approved. The scheme, devised by Rep. Ray Hutchison, provides for the non-approval of the entire 37-member commission by collection of 91 legislators’ signatures on a petition to be posted in the Secretary of State’s office. It was pointed out that it is extremely unlikely that 91 members would want to throw out the entire slate and start over. But Hutchison maintained that his plan was a compromise, giving some power to legislators without jeopardizing the timetable for drafting a new Constitution, and without subjecting commissioners to the embarrassment of being individually considered in public hearings \(heaven What emerged, then, was the designation of an appointment committee \(composed of the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House, attorney general, chief justice of the Supreme Court and presiding judge of the Court of Criminal 37-member commission. Elected state officials are not eligible for appointment. A chairman and vice-chairman will be designated by the appointment committee, which will also approve the commission budget. Before Nov. 1 of this year “the commission shall study the need for constitutional change and shall report its recommendations.” In the process, it will be required to hold publicized open hearings in six different regions, issue publications from time to time and make its working papers available for public perusal. It is forbidden to receive financial support from any source other than appropriated state funds. \(Under the provisions of a bill which passed the Senate and is being studied by the House Appropriations Committee, $900,000 would be provided. The bill divides the money into three categories: $240,000 for salaries, $300,000 for travel and per diem expenses and $360,000 for miscellaneous final report will be “widely available” meaning at least a copy at every public library by Dec. 31, but the commission will continue in office until March of next year in order to advise and support the constitutional convention. There was, as usual, another half to the loaf. There were folks who wanted the commissioners to be confirmed by both houses, meeting in open session. And there was a fleeting chance that the meetings of the appointment committee would have to be open to the public. That provision wasn’t in the original Senate version, which allowed executive sessions at the discretion of The Six. It was added by the Rules Committee, those wild-eyed radical reformers who rejected individual confirmation and Washington’s “quota system.” The Rules Committee, whose members did not even snicker when Rep. Luther Jones of El Paso told them legislative confirmation was a bad idea since “the people will feel more protected if it’s left to the appointment committee. The appointment committee is answerable to the people they’re elected officials.” It was subtracted again by an amendment offered by Rep. Tim Von Dohlen of Goliad. Since the entire resolution will be sent to a conference committee, the question is still barely -open. And will be settled by the appointees of Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and Speaker Price Daniel, Jr., to that committee. Daniel, according to spokesman Carlton Carl, will not instruct House members of the committee to hold out for open meetings, though he “encourages as much openness as possible. Hobby told the Observer he supports secret sessions. “For the same reasons you have closed meetings on any personnel questions,” he said. “Assume everybody [on the appointment committee] goes in there with a list of the 10 people they think are best. Even with the inevitable overlapping, there are still going to be a lot of people rejected, some pretty able people, and that could be embarrassing.” Practicing politicians, it should be pointed out, might also be embarrassed by open sessions. Four of The Six \(assuming that Chief Justice Greenhill and Presiding future races to think about, and might well prefer that no one know whom they push and whom they do not push. Not constituents. Not prospective contributors. Not any of the very powerful groups who have vested interests in the Constitution, the ones like, say, the Texas Good Roads whose dedicated highway trust fund cannot be tapped for mass transit without a constitutional amendment. The candidates are legion, and special-interest pressure on the appointment committee obviously does not depend on being allowed into public meetings. For opponents of a lobby-oriented, business-oriented commission, the question is: Will public meetings of The Six make any difference? Some good libs have already said there is no way to prevent the committee from discussing, or fixing \(depending on how the appointments in advance. Supporters of open meetings say public sessions are at least a chance, maybe the only chance, to at least be able to see that the fix is in. Bob Bullock held a press conference on, as he put it, one of those days when he felt noble, to say exactly that. He lit into the closed meeting provision to be included. He said lobbyists “would like nothing better than for the six-member appointment committee to consider prospective appointments in private, behind closed doors, with a lock on it about the size of a number two washtub.” Buck Wood of Common Cause is lining up participants for another blast. He says it will include Roy Evans of the AFL-CIO, environmentalists, Catholics, Baptists and others. And he reports that all of them are getting heavy pressure to pull out of the press conference. Maybe if they agreed to hold it in executive session. . . J.F. February 16, 1973 13