natural reactionary obstructionists of our time, and others too numerous to mention but equally deserving of recognition. But the first rat out of the trap was Rep. Bill Hollowell. Hollowell is Grand Saline’s answer to the Piltdown man. A curmudgeonly, chinchy middle-aged codger. Now Hollowell is not a villain, you understand. In fact, he’s really one of your finer specimens of conservative. On a good day he comes on like a summerstock Sam Ervin. How can you dislike a man who finds such egregious items of fat as $300 in Supreme Court librarian’s travel expenses and $20,000 for judges to go to a seminar held in Las Vegas? Anyone who thinks the Aeronautics Commission is a bunch of hooey can’t be all bad. On the other hand, Hollowell is also laboring under the delusion that Texans on welfare drive Cadillacs and such like. He tried to get $216,000 for the rehabilitation of alcoholics removed from the Department of Corrections appropriations. “I submit to you that if they’re incarcerated in the penitentiary, their problem with alcohol is going to be solved,” he said. A short-range thinker. Hollowell had more than 50 menmunts to the appropriations bill: he got one of them \(cutting the $20 thou for the judges’ Vegas of Austin managed to add $1.2 million to air condition the State School for the mentally retarded. Caldwell and the Speaker managed to hold their majority firm for the first two days of debate. In seven hours of debate on the 17th, 40 amendments were debated, one passed. At that point, more than 90 remained on the desk. The more amendments the House debated, the more piled up on the Speaker’s desk: they were running fast just to fall behind. Daniel first tried a night session on the 18th. He is understandably leery of night sessions. The House does the weirdest things late at night, booze being not the least of the causes thereof. Daniel tried to circumvent general tanking up by giving the members only 45 minutes for dinner. It didn’t work. Perhaps Caldwell and Daniel had held too tight a rein \(Daniel is more often accused of not trying to exert any their cotton-pickin’ hands off H.B. 139. “The Speaker wants a clean bill” was the original watchword and it caused some worthy amendments to go down to defeat. In fact, assorted members of the Appropriations Committee, perhaps including the chairman, positively writhed at getting up to defend the bill against some of the proffered amendments. THE UNITY CRACKED on Wednesday night as Ralph Scoggins of El Paso and Robert Davis of Irving teamed up on a series of amendments and substitutes. 4 The Texas Observer Their import was to cut strikers and anyone else who doesn’t register with the Texas Employment Commission for a job off the food stamp program. All the old welfare myths were dragged out and paraded around. It is the expressed opinion of one East Texas member that the only solution to the welfare problem is to clip the men and spay the women. Daniel’s fast gavel came in the middle of that debate. The next morning, yet another revised edition of the Davis-Scoggins amendment was tacked on with ‘far less uproar. It was followed by another nifty rider, proposed by Rep. Tim Von Dohlen of Goliad. Von Dohlen, a Catholic, wanted to guarantee that no employee of a hospital receiving state funds \(and the most compelled to ‘participate in abortion procedures. What his “conscience menmunt” did, however, was allow institutions as well as individuals to object to abortion. That sparked a lengthy dialogue between him and Rep. Sarah Weddington. Weddington made more sense. Von Dohlen got more votes. The House reached the ninth circle of absurdity shortly thereafter, approving a rider by Rep. E. L. Short of Tahoka that would require AFDC applicants to take an oath before filling out their forms. “Our whole basic system is holding up your hand and putting your left hand on the Bible,” saith Short. Caldwell did what he could. “When are we gonna git after the Communists?” he inquired of one earnest speaker. But after Easter-break adjournment on the 19th, he and Daniel remained middlingly optimistic about the House’s progress through the bill. The speaker said even a debate this protracted did not seriously discourage him and would not keep a single piece of “must” legislation from being considered. On the 24th, though, it seemed the members were content to devote their entire careers to the bill. Only nine amendments were disposed of in eight hours of debate, and most of the time was spent in parliamentary floundering-around over the proposed purchase of a state office building in San Antonio and expansion of a Fort Worth MH-MR school. Eventually, two different proposed San Antonio sites were out, the Fort Worth school was in. The battle royal came when the House refused to add $900,000 to the bill which was to be used to buy and renovate the Perry Shankle building in San Antonio for state office space. The purchase of the building was called “the minority boondoggle.” Rep. G. J. Sutton of San Antonio, a black, was seeking the appropriation. The building is on San Antonio’s black-brown side of town and would have given an economic boost to the area. But Sutton was cruelly baited from the back mike, sometimes by members of his own delegation. They brought up the assessment of the building’s value for property tax purposes, which of course has no relation to its real value, and passed around a picture of the admittedly unhandsome structure taken from the rear. “Perry Shankle supported Ben Barnes” appeared as an instant graffito and a good time was had by all the good ol’ boys. THEY PICKED UP THE pace on April 25, the fifth day of debate. Almost 40 amendments were considered, which kept down the increase in the number still to go \(there were four more added than highlights got the members’ full attention. There was the Second Coming of Bill Hollowell, back with menmunts to delete the Ethics Commission \(“We might as well be practical there isn’t going to be any Ethics Commission because bills have to pass both houses and be signed by the Commission and to delete the Film Commission \(“One of these pictures this commission brought here was The Last Picture Show, which was an R-rated Rodriguez’ thrice-attempted purge of a Texas Real Estate Commission representative in the Valley. This worthy, Rodriguez said, is in the real estate business himself, competing with his regulatees. And there was Mickey Leland’s concise and effective opposition to an amendment to reduce funds for the Tigua Indian Reservation near El Paso: “I just want to read you a poem, an Indian poem: ‘The white men made us many promises, / so many I can’t remember. / But they never kept but one. / They promised they would take our land. / And they took it.’ Move to table.” By the 26th the House had had it with open debate and pure democracy. Although there were rumors that some cabal was throwing up amendments just to eat up the clock; to stave off consideration of the important legislation still pending, most of the amendments seemed to be offered in good faith. The marathon proved, if nothing else, that once you let democracy go to work, once you turn a bunch of legislators loose on a bill, you by God open Pandora’s box. The House members voted to limit amendments to those already on the Speaker’s table at 12:22 p.m. on the 26th with 117 amendments still on’ the table. More than 300 menmunts had been offered. On the 26th they cranked through a fight on the Industrial Commission, which the committee had simply cut out of the bill entirely. Deals were made, some funds restored. Ray Hutchison of Dallas stood foursquare for getting some money to educate deaf children. Billy Williamson did a re-run of his famous “Baptist hypocrisy” speech. Williamson gets exercised over the tuition equalization program, an arrangement under which the state awards
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