V The senior senator, who becomes chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in the new Congress, told the Wall Street Journal: “I wouldn’t support a tax increase without the President” asking for it first. Bentsen favors an oil import fee, but lost the Senate vote on this last July 31, 82-15. He has introduced a bill to set a limit of 50 percent on foreign oil as a percentage of total oil consumption in the U.S. His other priorities are expected to be other import restrictions, catastrophic illness insurance, and job retraining. v Bentsen voted for military aid to the contras in Nicaragua twice this year. In addition, he this year voted to kill a proposal to require the President to report on the possible involvement of U.S. government officials in the provision of military support to the contras by private American citizens. Bentsen’s side on this won, 50-47. Bentsen joined a large majority in the Senate rejecting an amendment to provide for the compensation of civilian victims of the contras. He also voted no to an amendment “to prohibit the introduction of U.S. personnel into Nicaragua for the purpose of ground combat.” \(The latter proposal was v Cong. Ronald Coleman of El Paso has been siding with People for the American Way against certain political activities of American evangelicals by placing the periodic reports of the liberal organization in the Congressional Record. v In what the Clean Water Action Project’s David Zwick called a “sign of bravado” to the new Democraticallycontrolled Congress, Reagan vetoed the Clean Water Act two days after the November 4 election. Dede Armentrout of the National Audubon Society said Reagan’s hesitation to face the bill until after the election was symbolic, and that passage of the bill was particularly important to Texas, where water quality standards have not been met. Texas streams show more of a trend toward deterioration than toward cleanup. Rep. James Howard, D-New Jersey, said he will reintroduce the bill in January. V A new study by the EPA, in which it is concluded that nearly one in five Americans served by public water systems consumes levels of lead higher than the government considers safe, shows that on the basis of 96 samples, the average lead level in Texas is 6 parts per billion, well within the new recom 18 NOVEMBER 21, 1986 mended standard of 20 per billion. However, the range in the samples in Texas was from no to 45 parts per billion. V Something went wrong in the delivery of some 5 million pre-recorded telephone messages from President Reagan during the weekend before the election. A lot of them went to the Mesquite Community Hospital. For four hours hospital telephones were delivering Reagan’s cheery, “Hello, this is Ronald Reagan. They’re keeping me on a pretty busy schedule, so I hope you’ll understand I can’t call you in person. . . . I’m asking you to support our Republican candidates in the upcoming election.” Every few minutes throughout the day, a patient, visitor, or nurse would answer a telephone call transmitting the message. The people on one floor took all the phones off the hook. Hospital officials and patients called the messages “perturbing.” V Because undocumented workers in Texas are paying virtually all the same taxes that citizens pay, the state won’t experience much gain in revenue when the immigration law granting amnesty to some immigrants takes effect, according to state comptroller Bob Bullock. Bullock said the undocumented workers pay sales, gasoline, and excise taxes, and that it may take years to measure the impact on Texas of the new law. Strict enforcement sanctions against employers of illegal aliens might dry up a source of cheap labor for many Texas businesses and industries, Bullock said. Immigration officials estimate that as many as half of the state’s estimated one million illegal aliens might be eligible to apply for American citizenship under the new law. v When the National Forest Service’s giant tree crusher groaned its way through the Four Notch area of the Sam Houston National Forest last month, the large animals fled. Smaller animals that scurried to safety beneath the underbrush and fallen trees will be incinerated during the next phase of the Forest Service’s clearcutting project: burning of the 2,600 acres by aerial application of napalm. Several persons representing the environmental organization Earth First! have been arrested at the clearcutting site 12 miles southeast of Huntsville, and Attorney General Jim Mattox has asked the Forest Service to stop the clearcutting while his Environmental Protection Division studies the matter. The Sam Houston Forest has suffered extensive pine beetle damage during the past few years, and what is being called a way to rid the land of beetles and their damage appears to be an excuse for the Forest Service to eliminate hardwood trees in the area and plant a forest of pines, which are faster to grow, easier to harvest, and more economically profitable. V A group of protesters recently gathered at the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant near Glen Rose, 45 miles southwest of Fort Worth, to warn residents about the dangers of radiation and to denounce nuclear power. They released 40 black balloons to show the path of contamination that could occur when prevailing winds carry radiation hundreds and thousands of miles from its source, and featured . anti-nuclear signs, speeches, songs, and prayers. The effort was one of five such demonstrations in Texas on October 19 and was coordinated by the newly formed Texas Energy Alliance, a coalition fighting nuclear power, nuclear waste, and nuclear weapons in Texas. V The South in 1985 led the nation in the number of persons executed under the death penalty, and Texas led the South. Of the 18 inmates put to death in 1985, Texas killed six. This year we’ve executed eight of the 16 inmates put to death nationwide. A report issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics says Florida in 1985 held the most inmates Texas following with 206. Of all inmates on death row in 1985, there were 17 women, 903 whites, 672 blacks, 99 Hispanics, 11 American Indians, and five Asians. \(About 11.5 percent of the age was 32. Since capital punishment became legal again about 10 years ago, 66 people nationwide have been executed. Methods of execution have included lethal injection, electrocution, lethal gas, hanging, and firing squad. V Residents of the lower Rio Grande Valley’s more than 600 colonias may find some improvement in the substandard living conditions they now endure. In a recent letter to state Sen. Tati Santiesteban, Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby asked that the Senate Natural Resources Committee search for sources of money to improve the colonias and to examine state resources that might be used there. Hobby also requested that the Committee present its findings in recommendations to the 70th legislature. Colonia residents, many of whom are migrant workers and very poor, live without adequate roads and public services such as sewage and water systems.
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