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of a long fight by the Industrial Areas Foundations. Proposition Two represents not only economic development, but social justice. The Observer votes yes. Proposal Three would permit the Legislature to issue $75 million in general obligation bonds to provide funds for small business ventures in rural Texas. It would provide a needed infusion of capital into depressed areas in rural Texas in loans and loan guarantees. It also would create a Rural Microenterprise Development Fund, provide funding for the Texas Small Business Incubator Program, and the Texas Product Development Fund. The proposal is aimed at the small entrepreneur, who is often unable to come up with start-up funds. Principal and interest would be repaid by borrowers and in some instances the state would receive royalties and interest from products in which the funds are invested. Opponents decry the state becoming the lender of last resort and underwriting programs that banks and Savings & Loans will not touch. But those institutions have their own agenda and that agenda usually doesn’t include the small businessman, particularly if she is investing in a business in rural Texas. The Observer votes yes. Proposition Four would provide property tax exemptions for veterans organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Proponents of the legislation claim that the organizations purposes are largely eleemosynary and that should they be taxed out of existence the government would be forced to assume the burden of the charitable work that these organizations now perform. Opponents argue that their function is largely recreational, that VFW halls hold dances, serve liquor, and rent out space for wedding receptions. They also argue that removal of the property from tax rolls would require a shift of property taxation to homeowners and business. We agree with the opponents and also observe that the political agenda of the VFW is not one that we are inclined to support. The Observer votes no. Proposal Five would allow a tax exemption for goods in transit, a “freeport” exemption. Its fundamental premise is a supply-side argument that government should sacrifice its revenue base in the name of economic development, then hope to reap the benefit that development brings. It would exempt from taxation commercial property warehoused in the state \(cloth to be made into blue jeans, microprocessing chips, airwould be a hardship for many local taxing entities, such as school districts and counties. When the House sponsor of this proposal, Corpus Christi Rep. Hugo Berlanga, made a run with a similar bill last session, school superintendents and county judges lamented that it would result in a shift of taxation to homeowners and still require reductions in services. The aircraft-parts exemption, added in the closing days of the legislative session, was designed to benefit one corporation American Airlines. The Obsever votes no. Proposal Six would allow the Legislature to change the terms of hospital district governing board members from four to two years. Proponents claim that the two-year term for hospital board members is burdensome because it requires frequent elections; and the money used in holding elections could be better used in the provision of services, particularly in rural districts where many county hospitals are closing because of economic hardship. Opponents argue that this amendment would insulate board members from public accountability by providing them with longer terms. The issue should be a legislative matter and the amendment shifts the authority to the Legislature where it belongs. And it does not require, but only allows, for four-year terms. The Observer votes yes. Proposition Seven, is a proposal to shorten oaths and affirmations of public officials from 107 words \(by the editors’ count and not including names, middleDespite our preference for leaner prose, and the fact that minimalism is now the rage, we do solemnly swear indifference to this amendment even though it trims excess fat from government. That is identifies part of the excess verbiage as an unseemly affirmation that the elected official has bribed no one to obtain office, and that it mandates that the no-bribe affirmation be discretely signed rather than solemnly sworn, inspires an almost passionate indifference PRISON BONDS Proposition Eight is as important as number seven is insignificant. It would authorize the Legislature to issue $400 million in general obligations bonds to construct 10,800 new prison beds. Proponents point to the 10,000 convicted felons now held in county jails because there is no room for them at Texas Department of Corrections facilities. They contend that the lack of prison beds has resulted in shorter sentences and that dangerous felons are often released early because there is no place to house them. But Citizens United for Rehabilitation of group, contends that building prisons is not the solution. In fact, it is often a part of the problem. There is not adequate prison space today because of a change in the prison. population. As we have gradually become tougher on crime, a higher number of marginal, non-violent offenders have been prosecuted and sentenced. And since their THE TEXAS server OCTOBER 27, 1989 VOLUME 81, No. 21 -FEATURES Advice and Dissent at the PUC Hearings By W. Gardner Selby 4 Points of Discord By Louis Dubose 6 LSC’s Pot Shot By Allan Freedman 8 The View From the Hill By Anne Kornhauser 9 Abortion Stories From the Border By Debbie Nathan 11 Drug Warriors By Dan Carney 13 DEPARTMENTS Editorial 2 Political Intelligence 16 Social Cause Calendar 22 Books and the Culture Black River in a Dry Season By Michael King 17 Remember Los Alamos By Steven G. Kellman 18 A Tale of Two Cultures By James Hoggard 19 Afterword The Martyrdom of a Secular Saint By Tom McClellan 23 sentences are shorter, the average stay in TDC facilities is now lower. But not so low as proponents have claimed, according to Don Taylor, a penologist and national chairman of CURE. Taylor takes issue with the claim that since 1987 the average length of stay has decreased from 98.5 to 20 months. According to Taylor, the correct figures are 23 in 1987 to 19 months in 1989. And much of that, according to Taylor, is related to the trend to prosecute and incarcerate the marginal offender. This trend has resulted in young, non violent offenders being incarcerated with hardened, violent criminals usually in large warehouses in rural areas. The unfortunate result of comingling marginal offenders with violent criminals is the Continued on page 15 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3