Political Intelligence .1 Mercantile Texas Corp., a $2.8 bil lion, Dallas-based bankholding company, may be going into the consumer finance business along with such well-known lenders as Beneficial Finance and Associates Corp. of North America. On Dec. 30, the Federal Reserve Board gave Mercantile Texas permission to make small loans through a subsidiary. The Texas Consumer Credit Commission must first license the firm, and Mercantile has an application pending with CCC in the name of Mercantile Texas Capital Corp. If it wins CCC approval, Mercantile will be the first Texas bankholding company to involve itself directly in the regulated lending business \(Obs., March 11, In addition to its finance subsidiary, Mercantile controls seven Texas banks, extensive real estate holdings, and insurance and computer service interests. Giant Texas banks have been in the forefront of this year’s push for higher interest rates on small consumer loans. Many Capitol observers have suspected all along that the banks were lobbying hard for a rate hike because they intended to get into the small loan business themselves. Merrantile’s move confirms that suspicion. HEW Secy. Joseph Califano has reopened three school deseggregation cases in Texas that his Republican predecessors had left in limbo. The school districts involved are Marshall, Marlin and Uvalde. “We have no desire ever to cut off funds to any school district,” said Califano, “but the way to insure compliance with civil rights laws is to make clear that we will order fund cutoffs if we must.” The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington has upheld a district court ruling that newspapers may not own TV and radio stations in their home cities. The result of a suit brought against the Federal Communications Commission by the National Citizens Corn 12 The Texas Observer As i aggairipc_ mittee for Broadcasting, the ruling could lead to the breakup of such Texas media combinations as The Dallas Morning News and WFAA radio, The Dallas Times Herald and KDFW-TV, and The Houston Post and KPRC-TV and radio. But don’t unload your media stock just yet, because the FCC plans to appeal and the whole matter might end up in Congress. Industry insiders say it could be five to ten years before anything is settled. Strauss a letdown Not all the reviews are favorable on Bob Strauss’ nomination to be special trade representative in the Carter administration. Business Week said in a lead editorial earlier this month that the former DNC chairman has no experience for the job and that his nomination “is a distinct letdown.” Mexican-American organizations and labor unions, two interests usually on the same side of Texas issues, are at odds over legislation that would restrict the hiring of illegal aliens in the state. HB 816, sponsored by Houston Democrats Anthony Hall and Ralph Wallace, would impose fines on employers who hire aliens known to have entered the U.S. illegally. Labor argues that the illegals take jobs from U.S. workers and depress local wage scales, especially in cities like Houston. Chicanos counter that the bill will empower authorities to harass all hispanics by making them produce proof of citizenship. Further, say the chicanos, employers will become wary of hiring any hispanic for fear of incurring a fine. Mexican-American groups also point out that HB 816 would exempt those who employ people for farm workers and domestic service two low-paying jobs for which illegals are often hired. The bill will come before Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s House labor committee on March 22. Two groups actively fighting HB 816, the Tejano Political Action Committee and the Mexican-American Democrats, have or ganized a mass pilgrimage to Austin to oppose the bill at the hearing. The Legislature has created 23 additional district courts in Texas, and Governor Briscoe has made his appointments to the new judgeships. Not one of them went to a black person, and the number of blacks serving as judges in the state’s 258 district courts stands at zero. Rep. Craig Washington \(Dfailure to appoint even a single black jurist, points out that 40 percent of all defendants going before the newly created courts will be black. Manuel Orona, victim of the Pecos Barbecue Raid \(Obs., been found innocent of a charge of marijuana possession. After ten days of trial, it took a Reeves County jury about 15 minutes to reach its verdict. Members of the Texas Farmworkers Union, led by Antonio Orendain and others who broke away from Cesar Chavez’ United Farm Workers, are traveling by foot from the Rio Grande Valley to Austin. The men and women on the 40-day, 405-mile march are coming to the Legislature to urge passage of the proposed Texas Agricultural Labor Relations Act \(HB House by Reps. Gonzalo Barrientos D-San The bill would extend collective bargaining rights to Texas farm hands who typically work hard under lousy conditions for poverty wages. Affecting large farms and ranches \(such as Govvoting mechanisms for farm workers to decide if they want union representation, and if so, which labor union should represent them. The marchers are making about 15 miles a day, and they expect to reach the capital on April 1. Dolph Briscoe and wife Janey will receive a delegation at the governor’s mansion on April 4th. `Honor roll’ The American Conservative Union, a far-right outfit that lobbies in Washington, has rated three Texas representatives as 90 percenters and two more as 100 percenters. ACU’s ratings are based on the group’s interpretation of 30 congressional votes last year. The Texans on ACU’s honor percent. House Speaker Bill Clayton works up a weekly camera-ready column for newspapers with a weakness for boilerplate. The March 3rd edition of “The Speaker Reports” belongs in the
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