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A Fool’s Paradise Great Moments of the 71st Session Illustrations by Michael Krone IMPROBABLE CLAIMS DEPARTMENT Senator Carl Parker, defending incentives in the school finance bill that might benefit students from wealthy families, told the Senate, “Sometimes I think we forget that well-to-do people are citizens of this state, too.” LEGISLATIVE PROCESS, IN A NUTSHELL After a morning in which Senators paid tribute to retiring Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby by making whimsical speeches, Hobby said he was happy that the activities had taken enough time to insure that the Senate hadn’t passed any bad bills. He went on to give an incomparably pithy description of the legislative process: “When the Senate starts passing House bills and the House starts passing Senate bills, that’s when the damage is done. HE’S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS A press release from the office of Harlingen Rep. Larry Warner began: “For Immediate Release. January 23, 1989. AustinState Representative Larry Warner has filed a bill calling for human rights around the world.” THE “WHERE IS NICARAGUA?” AWARD To Lt. Gov. Hobby, who excused Senator Frank Tejeda’s absence on March 20 by announcing to the Senate that Tejeda was monitoring the elections in Nicaragua. In reality, Tejeda didn’t get to witness a referendum on the Sandinista government; the elections were held in El Salvador. RESORTING TO THREATS Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Hightower, ending a press conference at which he discussed Gov. Clements’s apparent desire to make the Ag Cmsr. an appointed position, issued a threat to Capitol reporters. “If I lose my job. I’ll go back to journalism,” he said. “I mean, think about that.” REP. WARNER GETS SMART Late in an afternoon when the House was debating a workers’ compensation bill, an amendment was proposed that would have restored a worker’s right to a jury trial or trial de novo. Rep. Larry Warner was speaking in favor of it. Houston Rep. Barry Connelly asked him, “Do you know how many other states don’t have trial de novo?” Warner replied, “Forty seven or forty eight. And do you how many have a personal income tax? Forty seven or forty eight. What does that have to do with us?” Connelly, a Republican who bears a striking resemblance to Maxwell Smart, considered the point and replied, “That’s an excellent retort, Mr. Warner.” BETTER LUCK NEXT SESSION “I think we’ve had a little difficulty understanding why we’re here today,” said Republican freshman Dalton Smith to his House colleagues, long about 6:30 p.m. on March 7, after several hours of discussion of the workers’ comp bill in the House. NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT Republican Rep. Dan Shelley of Crosby was one of many House members on guard this session against people with AIDS. Shelley introduced a bill designed to restrict community-based homes or “family homes” exclusively to disabled persons. A section of the bill stipulated that family homes may not be established for “persons with contagious diseases,” leaving some legislative staffers wondering how Rep. Shelley planned to eliminate applicants who might have a common cold. INANIMATE DOGS AND PIGS ONLY Senator Carl Parker introduced a measure banning children from riding in the back of pickup trucks. A press release from Parker’s office quoted the Senator saying, “Pickups are made for carrying inanimate objects and commodities, like dogs and pigs, not children.” A CALL TO ARMS Houston Rep. Ron Wilson, a perennial sponsor of bills and resolutions in honor of Martin Luther King, leaves his feelings about non-violence aside when it comes to the gun control debate. Defending his bill to allow civilians to carry handguns, Wilson said, “The problem is, the fools have the guns, the criminals have the guns. Let’s blow away some of these jerks. If somebody’s got to die, let it be the criminals for a change.” WEIRDEST DEBATE OF THE SESSION On May 4, Rep. Patricia Hill, Republican from Dallas, made a stand to do away with common-law marriage. Millions of people choose to live together without getting married, she told the House, and the state should not act like Big Brother by declaring them married after a certain period of time. 32 JUNE 16, 1989