Page 12


Herman Adams State representative, Silsbee When we look behind all the bills, rules and procedures of a legislative session, a single dominant theme is usually evident. This year, it was apparent that legislators were most concerned about the expanding state bureaucracy. This can be attributed in part to President Carter’s proposals for reorganization of the national government. Three pieces of legislation dealing with state government reorganization were passed by the House. HB 1977 by Rep. Fred On, which proposed the organization of all regulated state agencies under a “cabinet system,” received substantial support in the House but failed in the Senate. Through the work of Speaker Bill Clayton, the House and Senate passed a bill which combined three state agencies with jurisdiction over water-related matters into one department, the Department of Water Resources. A third bill, commonly referred to as the sunset bill, passed both houses and is, I feel, a beginning in the effort to cap the exponential escalation of state government. This legislation will require all state agencies to justify their existence. Traditionally, the most effective way to handle bureaucratic escalation is through the appropriations process. However, this is a very difficult thing to do because of legislative logrolling. But under the leadership of Speaker Clayton, we have an opportunity to continually review agency appropriations during the interim by use of the appropriations subcommittees of the House acting as agency “oversight committees.” I feel the greatest underlying achievement of this session is that we have given the bureaucracy notice that Texas state government will not tolerate waste and inefficiency. 16 The Texas Observer Ed Kloppe Research assistant, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees It’s that biennial experience ofdeja vu. Remember the old days when county party conventions were decided in that fateful first vote count? Those commanding 51 percent would smile and hint: “You might as well go home. We won! Only our delegate slate, only our resolutions will be considered.” Similarly, when the current speaker had his 76 votes, the script for this session was written. Those not on his “team” must’ve felt tempted to pack up last January and do something more constructive for their constituents than waiting out the 140-day frustration. One legislator, taking his cue from Gandhi, was driven to a hunger fast in the hope that his bills might reach the floor. Gandhi had more success. After all, he had to deal with the British Empire, which was not nearly as entrenched as the economic imperialists are in Texas. To play on this theme a bit: what Gandhi managed to accomplish for the untouchables of India could never happen Calvin Rucker Executive director, Texas Conservative Union Legislators are notoriously liberal with other people’s money, the more so when the money is available without new taxes. Conservatives met their greatest frustration this session urging continence in the expenditure of a seductive revenue windfall. Legislators were deaf to the suggestion that the people of Texas for Texas’ untouchables, not as long as it depends on the deliberative body called the Texas Legislature. If you happen to be a farm worker, you can only dream that Texas might someday have a governor like the California gentleman who involved himself in chicano labor issues. If you’re trying to raise your children on the largesse of Texas welfare, you can only hope for the day when Texas is not in the bottom ten states. Any accomplishments? One comes to mind: the antics of the Legislature inspired Austin’s brilliant Ben Sargent to do cartoons that put him in the same class as Herblock of The Washington Post. might get some of their money back. They neglected the ephemeral nature of the recent revenue boom, which, since it was farmed from oil and gas, is vulnerable to depletion and the Carter energy proposals. I was particularly pleased by the freshman class in the House. Conservatives have suffered in the past through the absence of informed leadership; the freshmen matured quickly, promising intelligent and coherent direction to future initiatives. In fact, the House acted upon several conservative proposals during the term, proposals unfortunately hindered by the Senate, a non-ideological gentlemen’s club which considers initative in any direction bad form. Senate deliberations are controlled by a handful of pragmatic elder statesmen with more regard for the status quo than for a particular political philosophy. The session was characterized by Senate inertia. There was no great movement in any direction, save acquiescence to the inexorable pressure to increase spending. The ERA was not repealed, but the Commission on the Status of Women was not established. John Hill retained his new antitrust authority, but Senator Doggett failed to augment that same power. There were winners and losers in the ruthless struggle for a place at the public trough. The agencies were well provided for; the doctors and the railroads were nudged aside. The taxpayers, of course, were never in the game.