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Timber corporations convinced a majority that their huge landholdings should be taxed at the new family-farm productivity rate, which gives them a tax windfall of millions of dollars that other taxpayers will have to make up. Strip miners, such as Shell Oil and Texas Utilities, won approval of a new surface mining act that will put less of a burden on them to restore stripped farmland to its original productive potential. Budweiser, Miller, and Schlitz won their itty-bitty bottle bill, which will allow them to gain even more space on the supermarket beer shelves at the expense of local brews and to stick consumers with higher-priced beer. Big bankers sneaked through still another constitutional proposal to allow them to install computer banking terminals, thus circumventing the state’s branch banking prohibition. Some business interests profited from this session by keeping other Texans down. Senior citizens, for example, will continue to pay the higher price for brand-name medicines in Texas, because the giant drug manufacturers beat back legislation allowing pharmacists to recommend the cheaper, generic drugs. Corporate agribusiness interests worked with House agriculture committee chairman Forrest Green to bottle up a bill extending basic bargaining rights to farmworkers, even though the bill would have affected only the richest 2 percent of Texas farms. Family farmers fared no betterone of their priority bills would have prevented foreign corporations from buying up Texas farmland and inflating costs, but Shell Oil, a Dutch firm, led a lobbying charge that defeated the measure. Hospital owners even scored one against indigentsRep. Gonzalo Barrientos got a bill through the House requiring emergency wards to admit non-English-speaking patients, even if hospital administrators cannot determine whether they have insurance; but Sen. Betty Andujar killed the bill in the Senate, asking, “If they can’t answer whether they have insurance or not, how can they tell you about the pain?” Some lobbies only wanted “technical” rule changes, and the 66th was generally agreeable. Mortgage lenders feared that their practice of charging interest “points” might later be construed by courts to violate the usury laws of Texas, so they leaned on the Legislature to reduce the penalties for usury violation, and to make the new rules retroactive. Utility companies have become the target of public demonstrations by citizens protesting everything from nuclear power projects to strip mining, so lawmakers complied with their demand that utility property be made legally off-limits to demonstrators. Beneficial Finance Corporation of Delaware was up against the limit of 60 branch offices allowed to any one loan shark, so legislators obliged by removing the limit. Then, there are the nickel-and-dimers. Did you every have your change gobbled up by a vending machine and get nothing in return? Rep. Bob Hendricks tried to give you some recourse through a bill requiring that a telephone number be listed on each machine so customers could call to reclaim stolen coins, but the industry had the bill killed. And Nik-O-Lok was back again. This is an Indiana firm that dominates the pay-toilet industry, and it beat back Rep. Al Edwards’ bill to prohibit these frustrating devices in public places. Who made this mess? The early line on this session was that it would feature substantive contests between the novice Republican governor and the wily Democratic leadership, but it didn’t work out that way. Clements never was in the contesthe didn’t have much of a legislative package to begin with, he waffled on some of his stands during the session, and he didn’t have a grasp of the legislative process. He showed his confusion during a press conference when asked about a possible veto; “I’m still thinking about it. I was serious about it yesterday. I’m thinking about it today. I’m thinking seriously about it tomorrow.” As a result, he failed to get many of his pet programs passedmost notably, initiative and referendum, returning $1 billion to the taxpayers, wiretapping authority for the DPS, and prohibiting a state income tax. He did win an appropriation to redecorate the governor’s mansion. The real story of the session was that the Democratic leadershipSpeaker Bill Clayton and Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby put all of their chips on the special-interest lobbies and rode with them for 140 days. It would be comforting for Democrats to think that the outpouring of bad legislation from the 66th is attributable to Republican ascendancy in Texas politics, but the truth is that all of it was sponsored, pushed, and passed by Democrats, or at least by people who call themselves Democrats. Clayton played the session pretty much as expected, stacking the House committees and controlling the calendar, then standing back from the fray as pro-business legislation slid through and as his committee chiefs bottled up any bills the establishment didn’t want. \(Even though he was unopposed for reelection in 1978, Clayton accepted campaign contributions totaling $75,350 from special-interest political committees, which is nearly three times the amount taken by any other House candiThe surprise came in the Senate. Before the session started, conventional wisdom among Austin’s legislative watchers was that Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby would come forward to play the Man-of-Reason role, holding the line against the excesses sought by business lobbyists. Instead, Hobby threw in with the lobbyists, and he attempted to ride roughshod over anyone opposed to their agenda. The first early-warning sign of Hobby’s conversion was his pronouncement just after John Hill’s defeat last November that the Democratic Party must get back on board with the state’s THE TEXAS OBSERVER ‘ 3