VIVIro M9113is tia. vin vwmomeytt.. “And this is the House cloakroom where the members gather to go over last minute strategy before voting on the floor . . . apparently, they’re on their way to vote on the pay raise.” wishy-washy” to “I think Mr. Briscoe is too tied-in with big business.” Beldon’s Texas Poll, a statewide public opinion sampler, found that almost 60 percent of those queried did not want Briscoe returned to the governor’s mansion next fall. On June 29, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s decep tive trade practices act requiresnot merely allowsa judge to award treble damages to wronged consumers. The treble-damage provision is the teeth of this law, since it requires deceitful merchants and operators to pay not just for the actual damages suffered by a consumer, but three times the sum of the damages. It stands as a deterrent to intentionally shoddy work and is the culmination of a year-and-a-half-long legal struggle to determine whether the application of the damage provision is mandatory or discretionary \(Obs., The June 29 case involved the defective installation of a septic tank, which resulted in the seepage of raw sewage into the yard of the Bowie County plaintiff. It is the most proconsumer decision since the court said some years ago that builders implicitly guarantee a new house will not burn down the first time a log in the fireplace is lit. The decision means that Texans can now find it worth their time and expense to litigate even small abuses, thus discouraging businesses that profit by stealing a little from a lot of people. There was one dissent from Justice Sam Johnson’s majority opinionit came from the court’s lone ranger, Don Yarbrough. A nickel a year A national coalition of consumer groups that favors the establish ment of a federal consumer protection agency has seized upon the idea of barraging members of Congress with nickels. Yes, nickelsa nickel is supposedly what creation of the agency would cost each American in taxes. The coalition has identified eighty congressmen whose votes are considered among them are our own Bob Gammage, Henry Gonzales, John Young and Jake Pickle. The U.S. House has voted 199 to 198 to establish a consumer cooperatives bank. The bill that passed the House on July 14 authorizes $500 million to capitalize the bank for three years. The money is supposed to end up in the hands of citizens’ groups intent on launching food, housing and other cooperative enterprises. Several floor amendments designed to gut the bill failed. Only four Texans supported the bank in its uncut version: Bob Eckhardt, Jim Mattox, Jim Wright and Richard White. After a good bit of armtwisting by the House leadership, an amend ment to repeal Congress’ $12,900 pay raise was easily defeated last month, 241 to 181. Majority leader Jim Wright of Fort Worth and House Speaker Tip O’Neill let members know they could expect little help with future legislation or committee assignments if they opposed the pay increase, which, effective March 1, boosted their salaries from $44,600 annually to $57,500. Getting the repeal to the House floor for a roll call vote was a victory in itself for opponents of the raise, who wanted to deny their colleagues the easy-going anonymity of a voice vote on the pay issue. But there was more than met the eye on the final tally. About seventy House members sashayed around the floor or hid out in the cloakroom during the vote to avoid a public declaration until the results were known. Then, when the toteboard showed that the raise was assured, the delinquent members bounded back to their desks and selflessly voted against it. Things got curiouser and curiouser. Seeing that the raise would pass by at least sixty votes, some of those who had voted for it decided \(perhaps with an eye be shrewd to change their ballots. But the leadership, afraid there could be enough switches to reverse the outcome, deployed about 25 members around the House well to prevent the nervous nellies from getting to the clerk before the final count was announced. From all reports, none of the 24 members of the Texas delegation got mixed up in these shenanigans. Though most were unabashed supporters of the 29 percent boost in pay, they at least stayed in the saddle. “Yes, I was quite surprised by the delegation,” a Texas newspaper correspondent on the scene told the Observer. “There weren’t nearly as many weasels as I expected.” Which isn’t to say, however, that there wasn’t plenty of weaseling going on. The repeal amendment was canned so readily because, for one thing, the leadership tied the congressional raise to one for 22,000 elite federal workers, including Vice President Mondale and several judges. A rules fight ensued which would’ve allowed members to repeal only their raise and not the civil servants’, and this was probably the key vote of the day. Only five Texans supported the effort: Republicans Bill Archer and Jim Collins, and Democrats Jim Mattox, Jake Pickle and Richard White. On the final vote, nine Texans opposed the pay raise: Republicans Archer and Collins, and Democrats Sam Hall, Jack Hightower, Bob Gammage, Bob Krueger, George Mahon, Mattox and Bob Poage. Voting for the raise were Democrats Jack Brooks, Omar Burleson, Kika de la Garza, Bob Eckhardt, Henry Gonzales, Barbara Jordan, Abraham Kazen, Dale Milford, Pickle, Ray Roberts, Olin Teague, White, Charles Wilson, Wright and John Young. The N-bomb By a 58 to 38 vote, the U.S. Senate has approved production of the neutron bomb. The N-bomb kills people slowly and painfully, but is less destructive of natural and man-made environments than conventional nuclear devices. Both Texas Sens. John Tower and Lloyd Bentsen supported the weapon, which got a significant boost from President Carter in a well-publicized endorsement. 0 This issue’s political intelligence was assembled with the help of Steve Russell, Jo Clifton, Laura Richardson, Paul Sweeney and Bruce Selcraig.
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