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to vote on floor amendments, refusing the most reasonable compromise offers of opponents, and generally giving new meaning to the old slogan, ‘Too much is not enough.’ Hightower’s assistant editor Vicki Vaughan had reached a similar conclusion earlier in the spring: “Overall, this Legislature can fairly be characterized as arrogant toward the people’s interest, obsequious to corporate lobbies, she wrote. “Such a judgement is not just based on the big bills of the session raising mortgage interest rates, rigging the presidential primary, emasculating the Consumer Protection Act, gutting the products liability laws, etc. but also on a whole bunch of less publicized measures. These are little bad ‘ol bills that add up to an embarrassment of riches for special interests, and just plain embarrassment for Texans. ” Why is it that those assessments of the 66th seem so fitting for the now completed 71st? Could it have something to do with the fact that the governor who was in power in 1979 is the same Bill Clements who occupies the governor’s office in 1989? One only need think back to Mark White’s tenure, sandwiched in between Clements’s two terms, to realize the different possibilities that exist under Republican and Democratic leadership. It wasn’t that White was a man of great initiatives, but he stood out of the way so that an unprecedented amount of progressive legislation was able to move. When Clements came back to town in 1986, he brought a spirit to the Capitol every bit as retrogressive as his polyester plaid sportcoats. But again, it is not as simple as all that, for the governor is not the single most important actor in the legislative arena. The similarities between past “worst sessions” and the session just ended have something to do, as well, with the enduring power of the moneyed interests, and indeed even the enduring single-mindedness of those interests. The names of the players on the scorecard may have changed, and yet here were the same business interests this year fighting the same terribly outgunned consumer lobby essentially over the same question: how much consumer protection shall we sacrifice to improve certain businesses’ profitability? In some cases, the names haven’t even changed: here was Arlington Republican Senator Bob McFarland carrying a business-backed bill this session to gut the state’s products liability laws, just as he did in 1979. This session, it was the insurance lobby and the chemical interests that had their way. \(Business interests were held to a draw on changing the workers’ compensation system, but that battle resumes on the first day Said a frustrated Rebecca Lightsey of the Texas Consumer Association after the Speaker of the House had capitulated to the insurance lobby and helped kill consumerbacked amendments to an insurance reform bill, “I think this is one of the worst sessions that consumers have seen in a very long time.” Some other progressive activists have been less inclined to damn the 71st session, calling attention to a few significant victories with socially responsible legislation. To the extent that the session wasn’t a total loss, much of the credit goes to Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby. Hobby, who in 1979 was the establishment heavy trying in vain to impose his political will on the Senate, thus provoking the flight of the Killer Bees now stands for enlightened and humane business-oriented Democratic leadership. The change in Hobby’s role has been the most important factor in the changes that have come about in the last ten years. In this his last session presiding over the Senate as lieutenant governor, Hobby was acting as a progressive governor would he put forth a coherent and forward-looking spending plan on education, drug rehabilitation, and health care and called it an anti-crime package. In directing attention to social conditions he provoked something rare in politics: an intelligent discussion of crime. But poverty-related issues exist in the legislature without a powerful counteracting lobby; nobody hires teams of influential lobbyists to make the rounds urging legislators to do away with early childhood health and education plans. If a leader with vision and heart comes along \(which happens here survive. In questions of business power vs. citizen power, though, the equation is entirely different. Even Hobby is essentially an accommodationist to the powerful and wellheeled interests that have dominated the legislative process for so long. Given that, and the dismal fact that Bill Clements is in the governor’s roost, this was a session in which real reform on economic breadand-butter issues never had a chance. People are plainly enough restive about the rising costs and limited availability of insurance; they would have liked to have seen something done. People are unhappy with the dismal management of the electric utilities that is going to result in whopping bills to ratepayers; they would have cheered a tough government stance on utility issues. Consumers are clearly concerned about the tons of pesticides dumped on fruits and vegetables, not to mention on the workers in the fields. There was no outcry across the land to go easy on the chemical companies. And yet on all these issues, nothing will change for the better as a result THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19