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Ben Reyes State representative, Houston. I wish I could humorously summarize the 65th session of the Legislature. However, this session truly belonged to powerful special interests. Its most posi tive aspect was that it lasted only five months. It was the power of the proponent, not the merit of the issue that determined victory or defeat of a bill this session. The first victory for the special interests was the huge highway funding bill, HB 3. The harm of this bill lay not solely in its extravagance. Its worst aspect was its use during the session as an excuse for slashing expenditures from worthwhile social programs. This session, fiscal conservatism translated to mean money for business and not for people. The session was characterized by members dealing with symptoms of problems rather than problems themselves. Representatives spoke tirelessly about the degradation of pornography, massage parlors, and welfare cheaters. These same men and women refused to stand with those who worked for quality education for all children and a bare subsistence level for disadvantaged children under AFDC \(aid to families with depen breaking the cycle that makes poor children poor adults. The debate on an AFDC increase illustrates the priorities which prevailed this session. Texas’ current allocations rank third lowest in the nation. They have not been raised since 1969, although the cost of living has climbed 60 percent. Yet a modest increase was defeated. Why? Why did representatives choose AFDC outlays as the place to trim the state budget? The answer is simple: poor children in Texas elect no representatives, control no votes, make no campaign contributions. So, unlike the highway contractors and other powerful special interests, they were ignored. To sum up, the session had no balance. The leadership self-servingly allowed only its priorities to be heard, instead of seeking common ground to unite the diverse interests of the state. Politics as the art of compromise was a forgotten principle. Craig Washington State representative, Houston I think the session, in large part, was all about logrolling and pork barreling. I think of what wasn’t done for children, the poor and other defenseless people. I think of the pressing human issues which were not addressed, partly because ordinary people don’t have an effective lobby. Only those groups with effective lobbies accomplished anything this session, and I say “accomplished” advisedly. Actually, little was done. This session was a dismal failure: the Legislature failed to meet the citizens’ needs. We passed a lot of billschurned ’em out like so much organ grinding. Music came from the machine, but it didn’t make a tune. As usual, the rich and powerful didn’t suffer much. But the poor and powerless couldn’t even get their needs articulated or debated on the floor of the House. One reason for this is that too much time was spent on the floor and not enough in committee. If you’re on the floor too often, you obviously won’t have the time and opportunity to debate measures fully in committee and work out compromises before the bills are reported out. You act too hastily. Thus, when the bills come to the floor, the full House must do the committee’s work. I think that this session, the House killed more bills on the floor than any other session. This hints at a lot of logrolling, pork barreling and trading out in committee. Because of favoritism, bills that should have died in committee were reported out, only to be killed on the floor. All this took time. This session did not even approach the real issues; its accomplishments were nil. 14 The Texas Observer Dave McNeely KERA-TV News, Capitol bureau An apropos graffiti seen recently in Austin restrooms: “Let them eat asphaltDolph Briscoe.” Apropos because the people who profit from pavementthe highway lobbyslicked the governor and everyone else into cutting their slice of the pie before it was even baked. They’ve got to be winners of the year. Right behind them are the coal-slurry pipeline backers. They stomped the railroad lobby badly in a special-interest faceoff to decide who will bring coal to Texas from Colorado. The slurry folks may be eventual losers, however; the pipeline project is contingent on assurances of a Colorado water supply, and they may not be forthcoming. The Texas Trial Lawyers won in their efforts to keep Industrial Accident Board records closed to employers and more or less won on the medical malpractice issue in that the bill finally sent to the governor was much weaker than what doctors wanted. The people lost because legislators failed to levy a fair tax on the state’s declining energy supply. And realtors and a few tax assessors, with the help of Sen. Tom Creighton, won by successfully stalling meaningful reform in property tax assessment and collection methods. The people won, however, by finally wresting from the Legislature a statewide probation system and a recognition from lawmakers that it will prove to be cheaper and in the greater long-run public interest to have lawbreakers who