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O The Texas BSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1979 Ronnie Dugger. Publisher Vol. 71, No. 11 June 8, 1979 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Demo crat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR EDITOR AT LARGE Jim Hightower Linda Rocawich Eric Hartman Ronnie Dugger PRODUCTION MANAGERS: Susan Reid, Beth Epstein ASSISTANT EDITORS: Vicki Vaughan, Bob $indermann Jr. STAFF ASSISTANTS: Margot Beutler, Viki Florence, Jeannette Garrett, Helen Jardine, Ann Kriss, Donna Ng, Anne Norman, Beverly Palmer, Martha Owen, Karen White, Harris Worcester CONTRIBUTORS: Thomas D. Bleich, Ave Bonar, Berke Breathed, Warren Burnett, Bob Clare, Jo Clifton, Bruce Cory, Keith Dannemiller, Jeff Danziger, Chandler Davidson, John Henry Faulk, David Guarino, Roy Hamric, Doug Harlan, Jack Hopper, Dan Hubig, Molly lvins, Susan Lee, Tim Mahoney, Maury Maverick Jr., Dave McNeely, Kaye Northcott, Lois Rankin, Ray Reece, Laura Richardson, Ben Sargent, Lisa Spann, John Spragens Jr., Sheila R. Taylor, Stanley Walker, Eje Wray, Ralph Yarborough A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them because this is a journal of free voices. Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues twice a year. in January and July; 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Publication #541300. ISSN 0040-4519. years, $36. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilmed by MCA, 21 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. POSTMASTER: Send form 3S79 to The Texas Observer at address below. Editorial and Business Offices 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 JUNE 8, 1979 Peering into the worst session in memory “Certainly we have not pleased all the people.” Speaker Bill Clayton, summing up accomplishments of the 66th session The very best that can be said of the 1979 Legislature, now mercifully departed. is that a handful of really awful bills were defeated, and about as many were rendered slightly less obnoxious by amendments. So much for the bright side. Many more awful bills were passed intact, and very few constructive bills ever saw the light of day, having been buried in subcommittees by the House and Senate leadership. A strong, progressive minority made the good fight, but they were on the defensive from the start, having to beg, borrow, steal, andfinallytake a hike in order to keep an even longer list of bad things from happening. The distinguishing mark of the session, of course, was the flight of the 12 Killer Bees, who shut the Senate down for four and a half days, thus preventing that much more damage to the people. But damage enough was done. This Legislature belonged to the lobbyists. Business interests pumped an unprecedented amount of money into the election campaigns of lawmakers last year, and while both givers and receivers profess to high heaven that nothing was bought or sold in these transactions, recipients voted consistently with contributors all spring. Corporate lobbyists were more greedy and brazen than they have been in years, delivering dozens of self-enriching bills for members to sponsor, packing hearings with hometown business interests, crudely threatening the careers of reluctant legislators, operating right out of the offices of some committee chairmen, signaling to members from the galleries to tell them how to vote on floor amendments, refusing the most reasonable compromise offers of opponents, and generally giving new meaning to the old slogan, “Too much is not enough.” Low lights Mortgage lenders came away with authority to charge up to 2 percent more on each home loan, giving them another $27,000 worth of interest to pocket on a typical home sale. Realtors and auto dealers performed a little surgery on the state’s Consumer Protection Act, cutting the law’s trebledamages provision down to a nub, cutting out the consumer’s right to sue for types of fraud not listed in the act, and inserting new defenses for merchants. Auto dealers added their own special $25 sting to every new car purchase in Texas, persuading legislators to let them assess this unneeded surcharge for handling the paperwork on each sale.