Good books in every field JENKINS PUBLISHING CO. The Pemberton Press John H. Jenkins, Publisher Box 2085 Austin 78768 ‘BOOKS 503 5 WEST 17 -114 476.0116 /Justin, Texas 71711 June 17 ;.1977 33 20% discount on books Titles below are offered to Observer subscribers at a 20 percent discount. There is no additional charge for postage, provided payment is in cluded with your order. Amounts shown represent the 20 percent dis counted price, plus the 5 percent sales tax. THE CONTROL OF OIL by John M. Blair $12.60 FEAR ON TRIAL by John Henry Faulk $ 1.64 DISSENTING OPINION: CARL BRANNIN’S LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, 1933-1976 $ 1.64 DEMOCRATIC PROMISE: THE POPULIST MOMENT IN AMERICA By Lawrence Goodwyn $16.75 THE TRANSFORMATION OF SOUTHERN POLITICS By Jack Bass & Walter De Vries $13.39 THE TIDES OF POWER: CONVERSATIONS ON THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION by Bob Eckhardt & Charles L. Black Jr. $ 9.19 EAT YOUR HEART OUT: HOW FOOD PROFITEERS VICTIMIZE THE CONSUMER by Jim Hightower $ 7.52 THE TEXAS OBSERVER BOOKSTORE 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 tion and enforcing uniform competency requirements for probation officers. Losers to the Sooners A speedy trial act was passed, one generally obligating the state to be ready to try a felony case within 120 days of arrest and the more serious misdemeanors within 90 days of arrest. A campaign has been started to stay the governor’s fountain pen. Defense lawyers and prosecutors have found common ground in fighting the bill, and some judges who say the court system is too weak for the added strain wish them well. The bill would take effect July 1, 1978. To be sure, it would help blunt the problems of crime, but it would require us to spend much more money for courts and more people to run them. We aren’t lilcely to do that; however, our lawmakers have authorized the employment of 432 new penitentiary guards. Finally, we lost a race to Oklahoma. We were two days behind the Sooners in getting to our governor a bill doing away with electrocution and substituting “intravenous injection of a lethal sub Adjourned… from page 2 conservative agenda. It didn’t have to be like that. Instead of debating whether to give highway contractors $600 or $800 million, legislators could have recast the debate around a state transportation plan that included highways, railroads, air service or, for that matter, hot-air balloons. Billy Clayton is not the only one allowed to present a legislative program. Sure, he controls the committeeshe stacked them this session to serve his own needsbut it is not as though progressives were without support or power. There were at least a feisty fifty or so in the House who generally could be counted on to keep their fingers in the dike and pull together an occasional majority for a people’s issue. Similarly, in the Senate, Lloyd Doggett, Bill Patman, Babe Schwartz and Carlos Truan stood’ foursquare, rallying enough support in committees and on the floor to beat back swarms of bad bills and keep the session from turning into a rout. Organization and homework The point is this: there is no ideological majority in the Legislature, and it makes no sense to think of legislation in strict liberal-conservative terms. Like most of us, lawmakers are pragmatic and display both liberal and conservative tendencies. With as many solid progressives in the House this year as rockribbed conservatives, the swing vote was held by about fifty moderates. A welldeveloped progressive program could stance” as the killing means in capital cases. The tardiness cost Governor Briscoe sixty seconds of mention on the Cronkite news. The time went, instead, to Oklahoma’s Governor Boren. Interestingly, the billalready signedleaves wide discretion with the director of the Texas Dept. of Corrections when he selects the deadly compound. Director Estelle, who has been described as “looking into the entire matter,” has had little to say about his chemical choices. Since the notion behind the bill is to make state execution a little less offensive to us concerned citizens, one hopes that Estelle does not rule out putting a tincture of the psychedelic in the admixture ultimately chosen. How comforting to know that the needle’s victim might have lived a lifetime or two while his blood stopped moving, and that death was made to look for him in a place where E is seldom close to equalling me 2. 0 Contributing editor Warren Burnett practices law in Odessa. have been as attractive to them as the leadership’s special-interest package. A successful session would have taken some organization and lots of homework long in advance . of opening day. This cannot be thought of as a job for legislators alone. All Texas progressives would have had to involve themselves in shaping and pushing a good program. As things turned out, we were left to look on as progressive legislators scrambled to and fro, and to joke about the mindlesness of it all at adjournment. Maybe a vision The effect of the progressives’ disorganization in the Legislature is worsened by the constitutional time limit on lawmaking. Texas is the third most populous state, with complex issues and powerful economic forces contending for its future, yet we restrict the House and Senate to an artificial, 140-day work period more conducive to scavenger hunting than legislating \(“Here’s your list of bills. It’s silly, and it produces silliness. We ought to fight for annual sessions of at least six months’ duration, and it’s time we paid legislators grown-up wages, even though many of the 1977 crop acted as if they just rode into town on a turnip truck. These two structural changes add up to no panacea, but their adoption would help reduce the frantic nature of biennial government and allow progressive members to devote full time and attention to the development of a programand maybe even a visionfor Texas. J.H.
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