lock up one of his pet bills in the state affairs committee, chaired by Tommy Uher of Bay City; when Hoestenbach contrived to free it, Uher dutifully refused to sign the committee report, thus preventing the bill from being set on the House calendar for action. Or there’s the case of Bob Maloney, a thoughtful conservative from uppercrust Highland Park in Dallas County, who had genuine reservations about certain of Clayton’s tax relief proposals, which he thought tilted unfairly to the rural areas. Maloney couldn’t get the speaker to listen, much less negotiate, and he resented Clayton’s aloofness from anyone with a city background. “No one knew the motives for bills,” he said. “We felt things were being rammed down our throats. Clayton never talks to members in non-pressure situations.” Maloney is now in charge of drafting rules changes for the Sam Houston Caucus. There are similar case histories of Clayton’s allowing his staff to meddle in the re-election campaigns of those representatives who buck him, supporting their opponents, and of a “heat list” that the speaker’s office compiled on members who didn’t vote his way in the special session. A particular sore point among caucus members is the treatment they get from the House administration committee, chaired by Clayton loyalist and Panhandle neighbor Pete Laney. The committee’s tight limits on individual members’ budgets have forced them to cut back on their own hiring and rely on the speaker’s staff, which is paid from an open-ended budget. “Information’s the name of the game here,” said one legislative aide. “Limit information and they have to come to you.” Laney has not won any friends either by his recent practice of editing representatives’ newsletters to their constituents. These are printed and mailed at state expense, and Laney has been putting a red pencil to some of them since the special tax session, claiming that the rules forbid members to urge their constituents to vote yes or no on the constitutional amendment proposed by the session. “I don’t think legislators should urge their constituents one way or the other,” Laney said, even though Speaker Clayton has been all over the place calling on voters to support his package at the polls on November 7. Rumping at La Tour About midway through this summer’s special session, hard feelings and general unrest were widespread enough that the Sam Houston Caucus was born. The legislative climate was right for mutiny 10 OCTOBER 20, 1978 from the very start of the session, since members by and large would have preferred to be left home to pursue their reelection campaigns or tend to their businesses. As former speaker Price Daniel Jr. learned during the 1974 state constitutional convention, legislators are not naturally grateful for the opportunity to cast difficult votes in an election year, and the ’78 gathering in Austin held particular peril, because Clayton and Gov. Dolph Briscoe had promised the people so much, yet offered legislative proposals that could deliver precious little. Added to those factors was the firm conviction of many members that the session was nothing but a bald attempt by the speaker to advance his own gubernatorial ambitions. First they grumped, then they rumped. The caucus’s founding session was in the expensive La Tour restaurant, mounted high atop an office building directly across the street from the Capitol. Nineteen members showed, and the original discussion centered on mounting a challenge to Clayton for the speakership itself next year. But that didn’t seem a productive coursefor about two years, Rep. Buddy Temple of Diboll, one of the 19 rumpers, has been making what now is generally conceded to be a futile bid to dethrone Clayton. He told the group he was prepared to step aside for another candidate of its choosing, but the only members who might have a prayer of beating Clayton out for the SO-3 license plate, such as John Wilson of La Grange, declined the honor. The major decision at the first meeting was to keep on meeting, and subsequent gatherings during the special session drew more membersL-the high point was a few more than 50 at a single meeting, but caucus leaders say that a majority of the House has attended at one time or another. The group’s focus shifted quickly from the speaker’s race to decided that the real way to go was to structure the rules so that any speaker would be a good speaker,” said San Antonio member Matt Garcia. Before the summer session ended in August, the caucus adopted nine rules changes that it intends to press for, changes that Hoestenbach says will help ensure “that each member is free to represent his or her constituents without worrying about undue pressure being brought by the leadership.” Three of the proposals . would increase the importance of a member’s seniority, so that those who fail to get their firstchoice committee assignment could assert their seniority to get their next choice. The caucus also wants seniority to apply to the sacred trio of committees through which the speaker effectively Demon rum By Harris Worcester Abilene’s hot, dry spell ended on the morning of September 20 with a wet ruling by the Texas Supreme Court, and by that afternoon rejoicing Taylor countians were crowding into Skinny’s No. 5 singing “Six-Pack to Go.” But the confusing legal battle that kept the county in an uproar all summer, a battle to decide the outcome of a June 17 local-option liquor election, is not overthe novice imbibers may yet be crowded out of their new-found sources of alcoholic good cheer. Sophisticated city dwellers and other folks not familiar with life in the Bible Belt may find it quaint and amusing that the liquor issue still has great power to arouse emotions and generate controversyindeed, NBC News sent a film crew down to look into the Abilene election contest, presumably to pander to its national audience’s taste for an occasional hoot at a few rubes. Even for those who, like me, grew up believing that all liquor stores are located just beyond county lines, an appreciation of the Abilene brouhaha requires a suspension of disbelief. Legal expertise would also be helpful. The tale begins with Update ’78, the group that collected signatures on petitions to call the Taylor County election, and it met up with unusual trouble from the beginning. Not only did the anti-liquor Citizens for a Better Community organize themselves to fight to keep the county dry, but also a group calling themselves Citizens for Moderation tried to pre-empt the middle ground. Update, you see, thinks Abilenians should be able to buy booze in bars to drink on the spot or in package stores to take home. The moderationists thought booze on the spot would be enough, and competed for signatures in an unsuccessful try for an election to legalize only on-premises liquor sales. Though the easiest way to label the opposing sides is “wet” and “dry,” CBC chairman Dr. Robert Strader says “wet” and “wetter” are better. He claims that CBC supporters do not necessarily favor abstinence, they just want to keep the drinkers in private clubs where they are now. And, he points out, if the Updaters have their way, they’ll make Abilene “a wide-open town.” Now that we’ve got that straight, let’s get to the real confusion. It began after the June 17 election. The unofficial tally showed a victory for the wets by a score of 11,591 to 11,460, but before any liquor licenses could be issued, the county
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