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Political Intelligence ‘ 4414! Five death penalty bills have been referred to a new subcommittee of the House criminal jurisprudence’ committee. Rep. Bob Hendricks \(Dother members are Reps. Craig WashingD-The bills range from Dallas Democrat Samuel Hudson III’s abolition proposal for a change in the method of execution from electrocution to a lethal injection of drugs. While Hudson’s bill is unlikely to be reported out of subcommittee, he and duced a concurrent resolution to commission a study of the death penalty issue; Hudson has also sponsored, along bill placing a moratorium on executions until July 1, providing time for a study. The 36-year-old Hudson has intro duced more than 100 bills this session, but only 22 have been considered by House committees. To draw legislative attention to his proposals, Hudson has gone on a hunger strike. “I’m fasting to demonstrate my sincerity in getting my bills heard,” he says. Hudson estimates that he has already lost 20-25 pounds from his 185-pound, pre-session weight. Missing on malpractice While doctors, lawyers and insur z ance companies battle over medical malpractice legislatiOn, the Texas House has passed HB 1048, a compromise bill sponsored by Reps. Tom Uher R-the burden of their insurance coverage directly to patients, HB 1048 promises to do little to curb the rise in medical care costs resulting from high malpractice premiums. The Uher-Henderson bill provides for a mandatory screening panel of three 6 The Texas Observer doctors to evaluate malpractice claims in hearings presided over by district judges. The panel will have no standing its findings will be inadmissible as evidence in a formal trial and the panel members cannot be called as witnesses so its provision seems aimed at discouraging malpractice claims. The pre-litigation process can take up to six months and the claimant must pay half the costs, no matter what the panel’s finding. Common Cause recently polled members of the U.S. Congress for their positions on a series of “good government” proposals such as a congressional conflict of interest law, the broadcasting of House and Senate debates, and public financing of congressional campaigns. Only 9 of Texas’ 24 representatives responded; of those 9, the reform measures proposed. House Majority Leader Jim Wright special weight on Capitol Hill, had a mixed scorecard. Wright favored prohibiting executive branch officials from leaving government service and going directly to work for the industries and private sector interests they had dealt with in government, but would vote against banning those officials from lobbying their former agencies. Another twist: Wright opposed public financing of congressional primary campaigns, but said he hadn’t made up his mind about public financing of general election campaigns. Although there are nearly a thou sand women inmates in Texas prisons more than in any other state no women sit on the nine-member Texas Board of Corrections. When the terms of three members expired in midFebruary, Gov. Dolph Briscoe ignored lobbying efforts to put a woman on the TBC and reappointed the three men: Fred Shield of San Antonio, Louis Austin of Dallas, and Joe LaMantia of McAllen. Shield has already served on the TBC for eighteen years, Austin for six, and LaMantia for three. OThe effort to dump nuclear waste in Texas continues \(Obs., this time with the federal government getting into the act. The U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration is looking for two 200-acre burial sites for radioactive wastes expected to be created by the nuclear power industry through the year 2000. That’s a lot of hot stuff. The cost of what ERDA calls the National Waste Terminal Storage program is put at $2 billion, and Texas is one of thirteen lucky states that meet geological standards for holding radioactive waste “for several thousand years.” ERDA has designated salt domes in East Texas and two areas of bedded salt in the Panhandle for test drilling. Anyone wanting to know more or to express an opinion should correspond with Governor Briscoe, who is said to be in close touch with ERDA officials on the project. Political wrap-up These reports on the April 2 elections were filed by journalists from around the state and edited by Paul Sweeney. The Observer goes to press as some of the contests head for resolution in April 16 runoffs. Ed. North Texas Councilman Hugh Parmer, a Yale-educated political scientist and one-time boy legislator, shaved developer Clif Overcash by 1200 votes to bump the one-term Fort Worth mayor out of office. Parmer’s victory capped a campaign dominated by disputes over financial disclosure \(Parmer lists his net worth at $400,000 while Overcash puts his fortune as well-heeled as his name at $8.2 Overcash never passed up a chance to help out the gas Fort Worth voters also knocked heads with single-member council districts for the first time and wound up handing plumber-populist Woodie Woods a new term. Woods is a gadfly with no real political ties. He has been the only council member to vote against every utility rate hike and remains Cowtown’s most popular politician. Two others besides Woods gained council seats; five runoffs are scheduled for April 16. The result may be a city council with a distinct “common man” flavor. The mayor-elect leans that way he’s vowed to retire the mayor’s city-owned Cadillac and the makeup of contestants in the runoffs holds out hope that women, blacks and MexicanAmericans will all be represented on the council. The lone referendum item on the ballot collective bargaining for firefighters and policemen was defeated despite a dazzling high-dollar effort on its behalf.