Hightower supporters thought Saunders had something closer to an 80-60 margin. Juan Hinojosa, Al Luna, and Speaker pro tem Hugo Berlanga led the floor fight against Saunders’s bill, with help from Ron Wilson and Larry Evans, Democrats from Houston, and the Black Caucus. Soon after Saunders introduced his substitute, Hinojosa offered the Brown bill as amended in the Senate as a substitute to the Saunders substitute. When Saunders’s motion to table the Hinojosa amendment was defeated, both sides responded in disbelief. The vote taken on the Hinojosa amendment at first produced a 73-70 vote for passage. But when a verification of the vote was called for, three Democratic representatives Paul Ragsdale of Dallas, Al Edwards of Houston, and Nicolas Perez of El Paso mysteriously could not be found. The result was a 7070 vote, defeating the amendment. A few minutes later, however, the entire bill was pulled down on a point of order raised by Al Luna, who said the bill had been improperly filed as it did not include committee minutes. This should have been the end of Saunders’s bill. Instead, Saunders reconvened his committee, passed the bill out, and was allowed back on the floor with it two days later, despite the fact that his 70 votes were far short of Lewis’s normal requirement of 82. In the meantime, Saunders used the same point of order to kill several bills introduced by opponents of the pesticide substitute and threatened to kill others unless their sponsors supported his bill. David Patronella, D-Houston, was threatened in this manner but refused to change his vote. One of Saunders’s victims turned out to be a saltwater sportfishing bill by Speaker pro tem Berlanga not the most politic move sponsored in the Senate by none other than Buster Brown. When Saunders re-introduced his bill on May 22, Hinojosa again rose to speak against it and to introduce the amended Brown bill as an amendment. Saunders’s motion to table this time went down, 60-77. Before a vote could be taken on the Hinojosa amendment itself, Saunders withdrew the bill from further consideration. After Saunders surrendered, Hinojosa was asked if he thought the bill would emerge again. “He [Saunders] promised he would not bring it up again,” Hinojosa said. “He made that statement before the Speaker and the parliamentarian and shook my hand on it. But I think the Farm Bureau will never learn.” The final pitched battle of the session involved the funding of indigent health care in the state. The Senate, under Hobby’s leadership, had proposed financing the health care package with a 5-cent tax on cigarettes. This came after Hobby originally endorsed a proposal to tax non-public hospitals to pay for indigent care in public hospitals. This proposal was withdrawn after opposition by White and a propaganda campaign by private hospitals, which included sending letters to the elderly saying they would be taxed for being sick. The House favored, instead, funding the package with a cigarette tax contingent on the removal of the current 8-cent federal cigarette tax proposed by Reagan. Then there was Governor White, who threatened to veto a health care bill with any tax attached, cigarette or otherwise, contingent on federal action or not. White argued that his sources in Washington, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, assured him that the tax would not be removed by Congress. The tobacco industry now favored the tax, these sources said, because a number of states and localities were proposing cigarette taxes to exceed 8 cents should the federal tax be removed. As sound as White’s information may have been, his timing was for the birds. His refusal to consider tax proposals to fund indigent health care delayed the progress of the funding bill until the last day of the regular session. That evening, a House-Senate conference committee on the funding bill met to rubber-stamp White’s funding proposal, presented in the eleventh hour, after passage of the appropriations and fee bills. White proposed funding the care with $40 million from general revenues \(estimating the extra money would be generated by sales taxes on goods sold on Sunday after repeal of the blue and another $10 million from various budgets of the governor and the legislature. The conference committee was not impressed but reluctantly endorsed White’s proposal. Bill sponsor Rep. Jesse Oliver told the committee he thought the health care program should also claim the cigarette tax contingency should Congress get rid of the federal tax. But, he added, White would veto such action. Sen. Kent Caperton, D-Bryan, said, “The House voted by a fairly clear margin for the contingency cigarette tax. The Senate voted 31-0. Because for some reason the governor didn’t want to fade that heat . . . we’re willing to [accept] this program despite the fact that we’re on record.” Added Sen. John Montford: “What we’re doing here today is postponing a decision that ought to be made . . . letting an avenue of funding escape that we’re going to have to decide on in two years.” The bill was finally officially stamped and filed at 9:57 p.m. The House’s two hour posting rule required that it not be presented until 11:57. After Oliver rose to introduce the bill at 11:57, Rep. Ceverha rose to speak in opposition, dooming the bill’s passage, given the three minutes he was allowed to speak. There are many questions about the delay of this bill. Much of the blame can be laid at the feet of White’s failure to act in time. But there is also some question about the delays in the sequence of events that prevented the bill’s being validated until 9:57. Clearly, there were elements in the House leadership and bureaucracy who were determined to embarrass White on this issue. Many bills have been passed in less than three minutes, particularly in the last minutes of a session. The entire budget debate and vote on the House floor this year clocked in at ten minutes. As soon as Lewis gaveled the session to an end, Al Luna, Berlanga, Hinojosa, Oliver, and other bill proponents made a beeline for the governor’s office. Hinojosa later told reporters outside the governor’s office that “the governor made a big mistake, and he better call a special session. If he thinks he’s got problems with Republicans, he’s going to have more problems with Democrats from South Texas. He has to remember who elected him in 1982. ” As he was speaking, Hinojosa was summoned into the governor’s office. He emerged a few minutes later with other legislators and the governor, who announced that a special session would begin the next morning to deal with indigent health care funding. White had, in a single act, shifted the onus from himself to Ceverha and other opponents of the health-care legislation. The next day a Republican full-court press was applied to defeat the bill. It included phone calls from U.S. Senator Phil Gramm to key Republicans and the office of the Speaker. Once the special session began, there was little question that the funding bill would pass. The Senate formed a committee of the whole, introduced the bill, and passed it out of the Senate in a half-hour. The House, with Mark White’s lieutenants all over the floor, referred the bill to its Public Health Committee. Throughout the committee meeting that afternoon, Gib Lewis and Hugo Berlanga stood behind committee chair Brad Wright, R-Houston, as the committee took up one conservative amendment after another, most by Rep. Alan Schoolcraft, R-San Antonio, who asked for a committee recess for a day while he created a substitute bill. Wright, noting that he agreed with Schoolcraft on the issues, said, “I’m not going to recognize you for that purpose.” He 6 JUNE 14, 1985
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