Time Out Why is Gib Lewis laughing? Probably to keep from crying, as well you might if you and your colleagues had cracked a joke as big as the 65th session. Thing is, the joke was on us. The Fort Worth Democrat will be back for more when the special session convenes in July. Accomplishments Those who say that the 65th was a do-nothing Legislature simply haven’t looked at the record. What about the bill Rep. Emmet Whitehead got by his colleagues, the one that put a halfway house for youthful offenders next door to federal Dist. Judge William Wayne Justice’s Tyler residence? That’s one way of letting a judge know you didn’t like his decision requiring the state to provide community-based facilities for delinquents. What Rep. Jim Clark did is important, too. He thought it was reprehensible that the state’s penal code referred to accused criminals as “actors.” In Clark’s view, the usage amounted to a slander on the acting profession. So he got the operative word changed to “accused,” and ours is a better state for it. There’s so much more. Take, for instance, the bill boosting the out-of-state fishing license fee to $10.50, and the House resolution setting up a special interim committee to investigate religious cults, and Rep. Brad Wright’s thoughtful propofree enterprise economics before graduation. And what Texan will forget that this is the Legislature that finally denominated chili the official state dish? But they really got down to business in early May, when Rep. Bill Clark presented the House with the chance to commend former speaker Gus Mutscher, who got into some indictable unpleasantness a few years ago but now has worked his way back up to Washington County judge. The Clark resolution called Mutscher “an outstanding former presiding officer.” Mutscher’s stewardship, the thing read, was characterized by “efficiency, firmness and good humor.” Clark urged the House to commend Mutscher “on his many achievements in public office and extend best wishes to him for continued success and happiness.” The resolution passed without benefit of a roll call vote, but 36 members rushed to the podium to be recorded as voting “no.” Billy’s Theme I’m a rhinestone plowboy. Ridin’ heard on the House And a-makin’ Dolph’s programs go. Rhinestone plowboy Getting contributions from people I don’t even know. And orders coming over the phone. I’ve been twisting their arms so long, Pushing the boys along. To keep them all in line on the governor’s program. Yes hustle’s the name of the game And if things go wrong Billy boy’s not taking the blame. I’ve done a load of compromisin’ To keep my star a-risin’ But I’m gonna stay where Briscoe’s smiling on me. I’m a rhinestone plowboy. In a double-knit suit and an image that’s all new. Rhinestone plowboy. Helpin’ Dolph fight crime and just shoving his programs through, Yes guy, I’m sticking by you. Mary Alice Davis How’s that? Jim Boren, who for fun and profit heads a small but powerless organization he calls the National Association of Professional Bureaucrats, often gives this advice to public officials: “When in doubt, mumble.” He apparently has a disciple in the Texas HouseRep. Leonard Briscoe. During debate on the ill-fated property tax reform bill, CSHB 846, the Dallas Democrat rose and solemnly offered this amendment: “Any taxing unit that is created by or under any general, special or local law enacted before or after the enactment of this title unless a law enacted after enactment of this title by or under which the taxing unit is created expressly provides that this title does not apply may adopt the provisions of this title.” If this makes sense to you, you might consider a race for the Legislature. No one on the floor could figure out quite what Briscoe meant, including Briscoe, but 34 members voted for his amendment, once again verifing something Lincoln said about fooling some of the people all of the time.
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.