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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE V SAME AS IT EVER WAS. Former Abilene state Senator Grant Jones is back at the legislature, this time as a lobbyist representing a consortium of insurance interests. Temple Dickson, the Sweetwater attorney who brought Jones’s legislative career to a end in a Democratic primary upset, says he’s not surprised by Jones going to work in the lobby. “He’s doing exactly what he’s always done,” Dickson said, “representing the insurance companies in Austin.” V EVEN MORE of the same in the House, where former Deer Park Rep. Ed Watson is also back lobbying for the Texas Trial Lawyers Association: Watson lost by seven votes in the general election and for a while considered a legislative inquiry into his defeat. Watson’s labor background, and the fact that the trial lawyers’ private interest often coincides with the public interest should make him a welcome member to the small community of progressive lobbyists. V CONSIDER the potential for political humor in this race. Former Amarillo Congressman Beau Boulter is talking about challenging Jim Hightower in a 1990 race for ag commissioner. First there is Hightower’s gift of satirically characterizing his opponents. Then there is Boulter’s “yes I do, no I don’t” on the issue of his personally talking with God. And there’s Governor. Clements’s widely publicized aversion to Boulter. \(At the New Orleans Republican Convention, members of the press knew that they could get the Governor to snarl if they would only ask about an endorsement of Boulter, who had given up his Congressional seat to run against Lloyd Republican defeating Hightower might make a Clements-Boulter embrace scheduled early enough to make 10 o’clock news a regular feature as the Governor comes home to Beau. V IT’S NO JOKE that the Governor might veto the legislation by which the agriculture commissioner continues as an elected office. While few expect that Rep. Stan Schlueter, D-Killeen, will succeed in advancing a bill that would make the ag commissioner a gubernatorial appointee, it is possible that the Governor will veto the bill that reestablishes the agriculture department and that also includes a provision that the ag commissioner continued to be elected every four years. This would involve the Governor’s violation of the spirit of the sunset law, by which a commission periodically reviews an agency and then submits its recommendations to the legislature for a vote. The sunset commission has left the TDA intact and both the House and Senate will probably endorse those recommendations. But a Clements veto would require a two-thirds override to make the commission’s TDA recommendations law. That might be a possibility in the Senate but it would require every House Democrat plus six Republicans and Stan Schlueter to vote for the TDA a prospect that many consider unlikely. V EVEN AS Ag Commissioner Jim Hightower’s initiatives to avoid a trade war between U.S. beef producers and European consumers were seeming to meet with success in Washington, conservative ranching and business interests in Texas continued their chorus of anti-Hightower carping. Tom Pauken, a former Republican Congressional candidate and Reagan appointee to direct the federal ACTION program, landed an opinion piece in the February 20 Dallas Times Herald that called for Hightower’s head over the beef issue. Pauken put it all in historical perspective: “Most of [Hightower’s] adult life has been spent in promoting left-wing causes, ranging from his participation in the anti-Vietnam War protest movement to his stint as the editor of the liberal publication, The Texas Observer, which position Hightower used to attack a variety of corporations.” Pauken’s offering is an example of how badly the state’s conservative interests want an old-time conservative ag commissioner Stan Schlueter saying Hightower is a “guy who bought himself a big cowboy hat and a pair of boots, called himself a farmer and rancher, and got himself elected ag commissioner.” And then this gem from Pauken’s piece: within days after Hightower took a stand on the beef issue, “Texas farmers already fed up with Hightower’s headlinehunting antics on other issues during his tenure in office had called a meeting of the Texas Farm Bureau” to discuss doing away with the elected position of agriculture commissioner. Notice the delightful image suggested by such a sentence: aggrieved farmers from all corners of the state rise up and call a meeting of the Farm Bureau. Arise, ye oppressed toilers of the soil and gather ye to the dusty halls of the famed people’s organization, the defender of working class interests, the Texas Farm Bureau! Whereupon Farm Bureau leader S.M. True drags his lean and weary body out of the fields and, bending to the will of the rural populace for whichhe is the duly elected vessel of authority, decrees that on March 20 the angry farmers must have their say. True tales! \(But the Farm Bureau is an V PUBLIC INTEREST lobbyist Rebecca Lightsey says the biggest threat to the in the Chemical Council and the Farm Bureau’s attempt to get pesticide regulation out of the’ hands of the Ag Department. “Every session the chemical guys and the Farm Bureau try to get more than they deserve,” Lightsey said. “We finally get an agency that is responsive to someone other than the big ag groups and the chemical groups, and the big money boys go after them.” According to Lightsey, the grand scheme of the corporate lobby includes moving pesticide control to the water commission, whose record on public health and environmental issues is “deplorable.” Lightsey also says that both the Farm Bureau and the Chemical Council are leaning on the Governor to veto the legislation that would maintain an elected rather than appointed state commissioner of agriculture. \(In addition to insurance, the V LAWYERS and public education lobbyists are up in arms over a recent attorney general’s request that will delay a Supreme Court hearing of the Edgewood v. Kirby lawsuit. “Mattox has said that he will do all that he can to see that the issue gets before the courts and now he’s dragging his feet and asking for another extension on submitting briefs,” one public education lobbyist said of the extension requested by an assistant attorney general. The Edgewood lawsuit, requesting funding equity in public schools, was filed on behalf of propertypoor school districts in the state. When the lawsuit was filed last year there was some speculation that it would encourage the current legislature to provide some funding equity if the suit could get to the state Supreme Court in time to make a difference this legislative session. V EVERYBODY KNOWS who is going to be the next lieutenant governor. Democratic state Comptroller Bob Bullock has been amassing money and lining up support since long before Super Tuesday. Bullock hasn’t been shy about it either. More than a year ago he opened up shop in one of those central Austin homesconverted-to-business-suites and hung out,a “Bob Bullock for Lieutenant Governor” shingle. Now, in the same Austin neighborhood, state Senator Chet Edwards has rented a house’and posted a somewhat more generic “Chet Edwards” sign. It’s been no secret that Edwards has designs on the office that Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby will vacate in 1990. 14 MARCH 10, 1989