Page 1


hearings preceded by the requisite five-day notice. Subcomm. Amdmt. No. 4 was put on during a meeting announced on the floor on the morning of April 18th that began at 12:10 p.m. on the 18th. Wyatt himself took the floor to introduce the amendment which was approved by a 5-0 margin and the bill itself was reported out to the full committee, 5-0. The Revenue and Taxation Committee reported the bill out to the House on April 24 by a 13-0 vote with one abstention. The abstention was that of Rep. Buddy Temple of Diboll: he voted “present but not voting” because he has banking interests and felt it might be a conflict of interest to vote on the thing. THEN THE action commenced to get interesting. In order for the House to hear the bill, it had to get on the calendar. And the Calendar Committee is headed by Rep. Carl Parker, also of Port Arthur. Parker and Doyle are both in the speaker’s race and some people think Doyle got in or was put in just to spoil Parker’s chances. The trick, in a speaker’s race, is to prevent your opponents from passing anything that will bring them either credit from the public or money from the lobby. And here was Doyle with a bill the bankers wanted. Bankers have a lot of money. They might feel grateful to Doyle if this got passed. Parker needed to be reassured that the speaker’s race didn’t enter into this bill. And reassured and reassured and reassured. The bill hung fire for two weeks. Parker was having one of his butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth days when asked about the bill. “It’s not unusual for a bill towait two weeks to get on the calendar at this point in the session,” he piously pointed” out. “There are many, many grave and important matters for the House to consider and I’m sure you will admit that the bills that were put on ahead of that bill were serious and important bills.” As he walked away from the interview, Parker was heard to emit a loud, high, “Hee, hee!” \(Guffaws are Then a little birdie told the formidable Jim Nugent of Kerrville that there might be something funny about the bill. Nugent, also in the speaker’s race, started to ask questions. A lobbyist once confessed, “I too suffer from ‘fear of Nugent.’ It’s not what he can do to help you. It’s what he can do to —you around that scares me.” For whatever reasons, Lynn Coleman invited Nugent out to lunch one day to discuss the bill. Rumor, highly unreliable, had it that Vinson-Elkins was going to make a contribution to Nugent’s campaign. In point of fact, poor old Vinson-Elkins, like most entities that need to stay on every legislator’s good side, usually winds up contributing to everybody’s campaign. Besides, Nugent continued to quietly ask questions and the more Nugent asks questions, the more nervous people get. When Nugent was asked about the bill, 16 The Texas Observer he was having one of his days on which he likes to be inscrutable. “This is the first year I have not been on the Revenue and Taxation Committee,” he began, and then took a sharp puff on his pipe so much for Price Daniel, Jr. “Since I am familiar with this kind of bill, I know how carefully they need to be drawn: every `i’ must be dotted and every ‘t’ crossed. I simply felt that I had not had adequate time to study the bill and so I began to ask questions.” Nugent says, “I began to ask questions” the way Vincent Price would say “And then I started to torture him.” When Wyatt was asked about the bill, he was just having a bad day. Q: Did any of the subcommittee amendments come from anywhere other than the comptroller’s office? A: No, they did not. Q: Are you sure? A: Yes. Q: But according to the minutes of the subcommittee meeting on April 11, Mr. Marinas. . . . A: Oh. Yes. Well. What I mean is, they were all written in the comptrollers office. Now there may have been . . . on the Vinson-Elkins amendments . . . I really don’t recall . . . I have that somewhere. I’m not sure I have that. I looked for it Friday night before this came up but I was in h hurry then and didn’t find it but I didn’t really have time to look. Q: You said on the floor all the amendments were from the comptroller. A: Now I don’t recall saying that. I don’t believe I said that. And so forth and so forth. Meanwhile, in the midst of all the crossfire, the team of Sanford and Coleman kept trying to salvage the bill. Sanford and Coleman are a particularly interesting pair of what has been called “the new breed lobbyist.” In the first place, they are younger than most of their fellow lobbyists by a good 20 years. They are, as befits all good lobbyists, the most pleasant of fellows. But they are not in the good ol’ boy tradition of, say, Pat Smith, who started his career as a lobbyist for the Wells, the Tenneco lobbyist who was once considered an ex-officio member of the appropriations conference committee. They are not only not prejudiced against blacks, browns, liberals and other misfits, they actually go out of their way to help same with their bills as long as it doesn’t cost their clients any money. One can think of no other business lobbyists whose word would carry any weight with Mickey Leland, the proud black man from Houston. Rumor had it that Coleman and/or Sanford had taken Leland out to lunch and promised him a little help with one of his bills in return for an aye vote on 918. Leland was plenty, plenty mad when that got out. “That’s a bunch of bullshit.,” he told the Observer. “And you can quote me.” Another dandy rumor involved Rep. Craig Washington of Houston, who supposedly, according to the rumor, was offered a job with Vinson-Elkins. Washington is a top-notch lawyer who happens to be black and Vinson-Elkins may be considering breaking down its lily-white barrier at this point. But there is nothing more to that one, at this point, than wishful thinking on the part of Coleman and Sanford, who would like to see Washington in the firm. Washington doubts he would take such a job if it were offered. THE MORE or less undercover opposition to 918 surfaced just before, during and after the floor debate on May 18th. Leading the troops was reliable young Lane Denton, of Waco and Dirty 30 fame, ably assisted by Ron Waters, Houston, Ben Reyes, Houston, and most of the rest of the House’s “far left.” Bill Aleshire, intrepid boy researcher, produced an instant, whizzo, background memo on the bill, concluding that it was best to take a safe vote against it. The speaker had reportedly promised that the bill would get a hearing before adjourment that day, and that’s one theory about why it came up at 11:30 p.m. Doyle said during the debate, “The comptroller drew every amendment that went into the bill.” And again, at another point, “Contrary . to any rumors you might haVe heard, the bill was drafted by the comptroller’s office, and I’m talking about the comptroller of the state of Texas. Each change that went into the bill from the time it was first introduced until the time it was laid right here today was made by the comptroller. . . .” Wyatt said, “From the Committee Amendment No. 1, Second Printing, we have incorporated all the changes that were originally made in the bill, plus, we have included some other amendments that were recommended by the comptroller.” Wyatt kept reiterating, “This bill does not make any substantive changes in the franchise tax law.” Doyle started off by saying that he had on his desk an amendment, ready and waiting for anyone who wanted to sign it, that would have taken out subcommittee amendment No. 4. The debate kept walking around the question of the bank holding companies and the word Sharpstown got thrown in once or twice. Denton finally moved to postpone consideration until 1 p.m. Monday, and it carried on a non-record vote. All day Saturday, the two camps kept up a stream of releases. Denton and Aleshire would unleash some relevant subcommittee testimony; then Coleman, Sanford and Wyatt would counter with a lengthy explanation of what the bill did. At one point, Wyatt got so exercised, he threatened to start debate off by saying, “O.K., go ahead and say this is a Sharpstown bill and I’ll accept the role of Gus Mutscher and let’s go on from there.”