au’ massive corptira. corporations, co primary field of .ende . disassociated from .agtiCiiitat that those corpotations are cruisll by. here, Without anybody so much as giving them a nod. ,And they’re. making lots of money -off .Of of a lot of people’s misery. The .. farm laboters and the family farm ers as well . . .” .front the testimony of.Deaton Leroy Behnke, Diocese of Amarillo, i. September 8 in Amarillo… Pho to by Alic ia Dan ie l to the right of True’s. Following the convention, in which True was reelected and a resolution against “mandatory” workers’ compensation was passed, Smith and True notified the committee that the Bureau’s board had to decide the position to take with respect to the committee report. In his December 8 letter, True informed Korioth of the decision not to support the committee report. On December 16, True sent Korioth another letter, which stated: “Neither I, nor any Farm Bureau employee, has ever made a commitment to support a bill that would require agricultural employers to subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance. The allegation that such a commitment was made following the Wimberley meeting is totally unfounded. . . .” During the December 15 meeting, Korioth had told the committee that the “agreement wasn’t reached on tape. It was reached in recess,” to which Rep. Whaley responded, “If you believe in that then you believe in land reform, and you might as well take the land and divide it up.” State Sen. Bob McFarland, who had acted as a broker in negotiating the compromise legislation, proposed taking the legislation as it stood to the legislature without the Farm Bureau. “The legislature will be cognizant of the fact that it was a compromise to which all segments had agreed, and that one segment then withdrew,” McFarland reasoned, arguing that the legislation proposed would then be passed. But the paid and elected representatives of the Farm Bureau were not the only problem. Once again, state Sen. Bill Sarpalius proved his ability to obstruct the progress of this issue. Sarpalius told the committee that he still had problems with the definitions of “casual” and “seasonal” employees. “Parts of this bill I have problems with and parts of this bill I really like,” Sarpalius told the committee. “I know that this state is moving toward workers’ comp, and I think we should provide coverage.” Sarpalius then went on to say that he wouldn’t sign the bill without a clause exempting “casual” workers but that he could sign if such an exemption were included. And there were further complications. A December 14 story in the Amarillo Daily News reported on Sarpalius’ willingness to sign the bill with a proviso that “makes allowances for farmers who hire . . . part-timers who do odd-jobs for farmers.” Included in the description of the bill being considered was the information that “only farmers with payrolls of more than 100,000 annually would be responsible” and that Sarpalius believes other compensation bills would be introduced when the proposed legislation is introduced in the legislature. The problem here is that the Wimberley compromise bill proposes immediate coverage for all migrant and seasonal workers with a phase-in of coverage for year-round workers based on the employers’ annual payrolls. In addition, several members of the committee thought that there had been a tacit agreement at the outset that whatever legislative proposal came from the committee would be supported by all members Of the committee. Sarpalius’ statements and actions caused some of his committee colleagues to question his motives and others to question his understanding of the bill. They wondered if Sarpalius were genuinely concerned about exempting coverage for what he referred to as “high school kids bucking hay,” who were the children of his constituents, or whether he was trying to use this as a wedge to Create exemptions for larger categories of migrant and seasonal workers. In addressing these apparent contradictions, Sarpalius told the Observer, “The bill conflicted itself. In one part it says everybody would phase under. In another part it said, ‘migrant and seasonal.’ We needed to work on that definition to exempt the small farmer. It’s really the seasonal and migrants who travel and who need coverage.” Sarpalius said he believed he had found a compromise that would suit all parties: farmers paying less than $25,000 to seasonal employees would be exempt from the bill unless they hired workers to harvest fruits and vegetables. ” I think we have an agreement,” he said. “I hope so.” As of this writing, the advocates of the previous compromise were skeptical of such an agreement one which they feared would open up all sorts of loopholes. According to Korioth, the exemption of small farmers who do not hire fruit and vegetable workers was the deal Sarpalius had agreed to originally, but it had been lost in drafting the legislation. Lt. Gov. Hobby: “It’s a grave injustice.” “We really had an agreement worked out at Wimberley,” Sarpalius told the Observer. “The problem was we didn’t have a bill in writing to look at and mark. [The December 15 meeting] was the first time we had the bill in writing to look at and to see how it was worded.” According to Jim Harrington, all committee members had the draft of the report and bill in their hands during the week of December 5. On December 9, Sarpalius had called Harrington to discuss the question of boys who buck hay with respect to the circulated draft. Sarpalius has always baffled his opponents in legislative battles. They have never been able to discern whether he does not understand complex issues or whether he craftily exploits a seeming slow-wittedness to his advantage. Many like Sarpalius personally and blame his aide and former teacher Guy Finstead for the obstructionist stands Sarpalius has taken. “I want to make it clear,” Sarpalius declared near the end of the December 15 meeting, “that I’m not a senator who does whatever the Farm Bureau wants.” Shortly thereafter, committee chairman Korioth adjourned the meeting. Sarpalius left the House Chamber accompanied by Finstead, David Smith, and Keith Garrison of the Texas Farm Bureau. UNDER CURRENT Texas law, Section 2, Article 8306 \(The Texas Workers Compensation follows: THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.