feel strongly about this. I think they’re screwing our folks [Democrats].” Slagle says he is not opposed to an ethics commission, and both Gov. White and Speaker Lewis say they support the idea. White wants a purely advisory commission operating out of the Secretary of State’s office. Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby has never been particularly enthusiastic about ethics legislation particularly legislation that would involve establishing a new agency. Hobby has always believed that voters and grand juries are sufficient ethics arbiters. “It’s touch-and-go in the Senate,” Billy Clayton says. What could emerge in these last days is some combination of several bills. Chet Edwards, for instance, says he would consider attaching an investigative-powers amendment to Ted Lyon’s bill if such an amendment didn’t fatally wound the measure. There is such a conglomeration of ethics legislation in the first place, one observer, who asked not to be identified, says, “because we’re dealing with some mighty big egos here. I wouldn’t mind bashing a few heads together and coming up with one good bill. It’s just like the PUC reforms; all the young Turks want to make sure they get their name on a bill.” This observer, who has watched the ethics package evolve over the past two years, had praise for Rep. Lee Jackson “Jackson has stuck with it all along.” and Rep. Ernestine Glossbrenner. “She’s the one who got screwed,” he says. “Since she didn’t vote with the Speaker, her bill got ignored. With her though, it’s not an ego thing, so when she saw that Turner’s bill was the one that would go, she didn’t get petty.” “We’ll get Lyon’s bill at a minimum,” John Hildreth of Common Cause predicts. What he and fellow reformers will not get are several truly Rep. Ernestine Glossbrenner substantive reforms public campaign financing, for example. State Sen. Craig Washington and Rep. El Franco Lee, both of Houston, sponsored legislation that would have established a Texas Voter Education Fund. The fund would receive from general appropriations 25C per registered voter to distribute to each candidate in the general election who had an opponent. Each candidate would be guaranteed a minimum contribution. Lee and Washington see their proposal as a way to make public office more accessible to candidates who don’t have millions to spend as well as a way to break the business and special-interest stranglehold on the election process. Both bills are “pending,” which, at this late date, is a polite word for “dying.” Legislation introduced by state Sen. John Whitmire and Rep. David Patronella, also both of Houston, would strictly limit individual and PAC contributions to candidates. Donations from individuals would be limited to $4,000 to gubernatorial candidates, $3,000 to other statewide candidates, and $1,000 to legislative candidates. They would also limit PAC contributions to candidates for statewide office to $7,500 and for legislative offices to $2,000. Total amounts of PAC contributions received by an individual would also be limited from a $200,000 PAC limit for a gubernatorial candidate to $5,000 for a Congressional candidate. Needless to say, Whitmire’s bill and Patronella’s bill are also “pending.” Other ethics bills, most of them “pending,” deal with lobby disclosure, the all-important question of conflict of interest, and pay raises for legislators. A few might slide through. In John Hildreth’s words, however, “critical reform in terms of fairness, balance, and access to office are not going to come this time.” Ethics Update: At this writing, Lyon’s SB 1043 has been substituted for Jim Turner’s HB 2154 and has been on the intent calendar for two days. Sens. Lyon and Edwards are convinced the votes are there for it to pass. The bill contains language prohibiting personal use of campaign funds, and it establishes an ethics advisory commission with no investigatory powers. Pho to by Ala n Pog ue Prospects HB 2095 SB 651 This bill provides amendments to the Bribery and Corrupt Influence and the Abuse of Office sections of the Texas Penal Code. Based on recommendations by the Public Servant Standards of Conduct Advisory Committee, the bill would expand the definition of “pecuniary benefit” to include anything which can be regarded as economic gain, not just money, property or commercial interests. The bill also sets forth a punishment scale for misapplication of funds, ranging from a Class C misdemeanor for misapplication of a thing valued at less than $5, to a second-degree felony charge for items valued at $10,000 or more. The Senate version was passed unanimously out of the Jurisprudence Committee; the House version is still in a State Affairs Subcommittee. HB 1749 . SB 1044 This conflict of interest legislation provides an explicit definition of “substantial interest” and establishes a conflict of interest disclosure re-_ quirement and sets up penalties for violation of the law. Any legislator who owns 10 % or more of the voting stock or shares of a company, receives at least 10% of his gross income from a business, or owns real property in a business valued at $2500 or more must file an affidavit of disclosure. The legislator then may not vote on decisions involving that business which may result in financial gain for that business; violation of the law is a Class A misdemeanor. This legislation passed out of the Senate committee and is now on the Intent calendar. The House version is in a State Affairs Subcommittee. HB 2201, HJR 108 SB 825, SJR 28 HB 2201 and SB 825 propose statutory revisions which prohibit a legislator from having a direct or in 12 MAY 20, 1983
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