MAJOR-DOMO FOR THE BUSINESS LOBBY Senator Ray Farabee, Democrat of Wichita Falls, consistently carries the legislation favored by business groups this session he passed a Republicanstyle “privatization” bill that would allow private firms to contract with the state to build and operate prisons. He voted with the industry positions on tort reform and AT&T deregulation and even cast at least two bad votes against farmworkers, though he is wellregarded for his usually progressive stands on social issues. He carried a bill for the utilities on “nuclear prudency” that would have allowed costs to be passed on to consumers, though the Senate didn’t go for it. Pho to by Alan Pog ue Pho to by Ala n Pog ue A LOST SOUL Senator Ted Lyon, Democrat from Rockwall, has become a major disappointment in the Senate. He has continued downhill in each of his three sessions and shows no sign of bottoming out. His main preoccupation has been an abortion regulation bill, which finally passed this session in modified form. Lyon originally wanted minors to be required to get parental consent before an abortion, a stand that gives little consideration to real life problems of young women in trouble. Lyon has frequently taken demagogic stands on prison and crime issues, moving to the right of Republican Senator Bob McFarland, who carried an early release bill to ease prison overcrowding that Lyon referred to distastefully as “this liberal legislation. ” In a Senate committee in March, Lyon amazed people who follow prison issues by seeming to be still fighting the Ruiz decision, a court case the state lost almost 15 years ago. Lyon also seized the AIDS issue to pander to the knownothings of his district, who seem to ever more affect his consciousness. Pho to by Da ve Den iso n A TALE OF OBSESSION Senator Bill Sarpalius, conservative Democrat from Canyon, was his usual muddled and befuddled self this session, up to no good on bills that had to do with farm labor and seeming to have an unshakeable preoccupation with his bete noire, Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower. Sarpalius caused such delay trying to weaken the farmworker right-to-know bill that by the time he was done, it ended up with more money allocated for training programs than farmworker advocates would have dared ask for. In a committee hearing Sarpalius asked i ffarmers would have to disseminate information “in Spanish, or American. ” A PERENNIAL GOAT Senator Bill Sims is said to be one of the nicest men in the Senate with one of the meanest agendas. The director of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, Sims votes with a single-minded concern about his often reactionary West Texas farm interests, forgetting that his constituency also included thousands of farmworkers. He carried a bill attempting to cut some seasonal workers from unemployment benefits, but seems to usually take his cues from an aide to Senator Sarpalius. He gives the impression sometimes of not even understanding his own bills. Pho to by De br a Ha r kness THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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