KEY VOTES The 69th session of the Texas Legislature was noted for, among other things, the paucity of record votes taken on major legislation. Most often voice votes were taken with most of the debate on bills and issues reserved for committee meetings. In the following table, we present House and Senate votes that were recorded on a number of key issues. These votes and issues are explained in the following paragraphs. A * beside a legislator’s name indicates that he or she voted with the Observer position on the “legislation indicated. A 0 indicates a vote against the Observer position. A blank space indicates the legislator did not vote. 1. Wiretapping Sen. Craig Washington stood at his desk shortly before midnight on May 15 after having talked for 12 hours against allowing the Department of Public Safety to secretly enter private residences to plant bugs and rig up wiretaps. Hefty law . books were strewn across his desk, along with a paperback copy of The Politics of Privacy. “This is not a law and order issue, it’s a Fourth Amendment issue,” Washington had said upon launching his filibuster. \(TO He was able to win new restrictions on DPS covert entry powers, and Sen. Bob Glasgow put an amendment on the bill to cover pen registers the devices used to detect what phone numbers a suspect calls. A new sunset date, 1993, was also established before the Senate went ahead and reapproved the law giving DPS authority to use wiretaps in narcotics investigations. The measure easily passed the House. Both votes shown are on final passage. The Observer votes “Nay.” 2. Pesticide Regulation Buster Brown’s Senate Bill 63 was drawn to severely limit the regulatory authority of Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower in dealing with pesticide use. Written with a great deal of help from the Texas Chemical Council and Texas Farm Bureau, the bill was subjected to close scrutiny in the Senate. By the time it reached the Senate floor, it represented little more than a codification of Hightower’s current authority and created a few advisory committees. At that point the bill was a compromise agreed to by representatives of the Agriculture Department, farmworkers, environmentalists, chemical companies, and farm organizations. Sen. Bill Sarpalius, D-Hereford, offered an amendment to the bill restricting the Agriculture Department’s authority of prior notification on pesticide applications. The Senate vote shown is on Brown’s motion to table the amendment, which passed, 22-7. The Observer votes “Aye.” 2a. Once the Brown bill reached the House, it was replaced by a committee substitute by Agriculture Committee chair Robert Saunders, D-LaGrange. Saunders’ substitute undid all the previous compromises and put greater restrictions on Hightower’s authority, diluting it by making him a member of a threeperson board. Chemical and agribusiness groups that had agreed to the Brown compromise suddenly renounced it. The first House vote shown is on an amendment offered by Juan Hinojosa to the Saunders substitute. The Hinojosa amendment called for the re-instatement of the Brown bill. It failed on a tie vote, 70-70. The Observer votes “Aye.” 2b. After the vote on the Hinojosa amendment, Rep. Al Luna, D-Houston, had the Saunders bill withdrawn on a point of order. It re-appeared two days later on the House floor. When Hinojosa again offered his amendment, Saunders moved to table it. The motion to table failed, 60-77, whereupon Saunders withdrew his bill, killing it and the Brown bill for the session. The second House vote shown is on the motion to table the Hinojosa amendment. The Observer votes “Nay.” 3. Farmworkers’ Unemployment Compensation A state district judge had already ruled that the exclusion of farmworkers from unemployment compensation in Texas was unconstitutional; still, it was not a foregone conclusion that the legislature would change the law. A bill carried by Lloyd Criss in the House passed April 10 but drew 54 negative votes. It passed the Senate a week later with eight dissenting votes, and the governor signed it into law on May 2. The vote in the chart is the vote to bring the bill up for consideration. Six senators voted “no.” The Observer votes “aye.” On final passage three additional senators recorded “no” votes in the Senate Journal: Ted Lyon, Buster Brown, and John Sharp. That would make nine dissenting votes, but Bob Glasgow, who voted against considering the bill, did not enter a “no” vote in the Journal. 4. Gun Control Sen. Buster Brown, R-Lake Jackson, carried a bill being pushed by the state chapter of the National Rifle Association that would restrict the ability of local governments to regulate firearms. The bill was watered down in the Senate by several amendments, including one by Bob Glasgow, D-Stephenville, that allowed cities to regulate the use and possession but not the ownership of firearms, and another by Ted Lyon, DRockwall, allowing cities to restrict the location of stores selling guns. Brown accused opponents of his bill of wanting to “outlaw guns,” to which Glasgow reacted angrily that he “owned more guns than most people.” Sen. Craig Washington, D-Houston, responded: “You certainly can include me as one who wants to outlaw guns at every opportunity.” The Senate vote shown here was on a motion to table an amendment by Hugh Parmer, D-Fort Worth, allowing a city to regulate the possession and use of firearms in emergency situations in order to protect the public safety. Brown’s motion to table the amendment failed, 13-18. The Observer votes “Nay.” The House vote shown is on passage of the amended bill to third reading. The Observer votes “Nay.” It passed, 106-38. 5. Indigent Health Care The bill by Rep. Jesse Oliver, DDallas, on indigent health care funding that was killed by Rep. Bill Ceverha in the last minutes of the regular session re-emerged in the special session as Senate Bill 1. It passed the Senate, 301, in less than an hour. The Observer votes “Aye.” In the House, the bill was referred to the Public Health Committee and reached the House floor for debate the following day. The crucial House vote involved an amendment introduced by Rep. Alan Schoolcraft, k-San Antonio, that had been formulated in the Texas Conservative Coalition meeting the day before. The amendment virtually gutted the indigent health care program, calling instead for an interim study. Oliver moved to table the amendment. The House vote shown is on the motion to table, which passed 71-70, after Speaker Gib Lewis voted “Aye” to break a tie. A few hours later, the bill passed the House. The Observer votes “Aye.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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