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BEN SARGENT dropped the Senate proposal to let the commission recommend pay increases for legislators and made it subject to legislative whim by dropping the idea of putting the commission in the Constitution. The committee’s proposal failed to address the bribery loophole and dropped Senate provisions banning local governments from hiring private lobbyists, requiring disclosure of lobbyists fees, requiring members to report investments with lobbyists, and capping the amount of money lobbyists can spend on legislators. On the other hand, the House version did add provisions forcing lawmakers to reveal any income source higher than $15,000 and prohibited lawmakers from representing clients before state agencies or accepting contracts for professional services from governmental bodies unless they were subject to competitive bids. It also prohibited use of political donations to finance businesses or Austin homes and banned pleasure trips paid by lobbyists, unless they were part of legislators’ official duties or to attend conferences. Finally, there was the Eddie Cavazos amendment requiring newspapers to publish a list of advertisers with possible conflicts of interest pertaining to subjects of editorials. The blatantly unconstitutional \(according to after much laughter and criticism. During a long, bitter floor debate three days after the bill emerged from Laney’s committee, the House followed the opposite course of the upper chamber by rejecting a number of amendments to toughen the legislation. Many were proposed by freshman Democrat Glen Maxey of Austin, who, because he arrived halfway through the session in a special election, didn’t have much of a legislative program to risk in a fight with the leadership. Maxey forced record votes on several of his amendments, greatly disconcerting Lewis, who repeatedly warned him against the tactic, which would embarrass anti-ethics reps. The fight over Maxey’s amendments was instructive of the House presidium’s attitude toward open government. One would have instituted a secret ballot in races for Speaker, and, according to Maxey, “it just disappeared.” Lewis spokesman John Bender said the House parliamentarian remembered seeing the amendment but was “unable to determine what happened to it” after that. Maxey said it wasn’t mere chance that some of the legislation most important to other coalition members Paul Sadler, D-Henderson, and Mike Martin, D-Galveston, was scheduled just behind the ethics vote on the House calendar. Lewis’s principal henchman in opposing the reform coalition was Dallas Democrat Steve Wolens, previously considered a relatively progressive voice. That night, the House adopted the eviscerated ethics bill with few significant changes. The Contentious Committee The rancor on the House floor was only a prelude to the acrimonious battles that took place in the House-Senate conference committee convened to work out differences between the two bodies’ bills. Wolens and Glasgow shouted at each other, and negotiators stormed out of meetings several times. Wolens would have weakened the commission by allowing lawmakers to serve on it, and pushed for backroom dealings at every stage, rather than public hearings of complaints and investigations, and inveighed against other pro-ethics provisions. Richards threatened to call a special session the morning after the regular session’s adjournment if the conferees couldn’t concur, but retreated on one of the most important issues, closing the bribery loophole, saying failure to resolve it wouldn’t cause her to veto the bill. An irate Glasgow criticized her for easing the pressure on House negotiators. \(It was rumored that Lewis opposed changing the bribery law because his nemesis, Richards had replaced Hannah with legislative liaison Jim Parker as her main negotiator on ethics because of a personality clash between Hannah and Laney. Eventually, the two sides compromised, mostly by using disclosure, instead of prohibitions, as a solution to questionable contacts between the lobby and legislators. Exposing serious flaws in the process of deliberations, the Legislature finally passed a 136-page ethics bill, containing few strong reforms, with minutes to go in the session. “It was an act of legislative malpractice to have voted for a bill this complicated in the last 20 minutes of the Legislature, a bill which most members had never seen and none had ever read,” said Tom Smith. Last-minute addenda out. One makes anyone who leaks documents or other confidential information from an in vestigation liable for a fine of up to $10,000. The ultimate form of the ethics bill was a disappointment to advocates of more than cosmetic reform, and a serious departure from Richards’ original agenda. It did ban honoraria, set up a cross-filed reporting system with full disclosure by category of legislators’ contributions, prohibit lobby-paid trips for legislators \(except for fact-finding or public service trips, which are a loophole, but holder accounts, all notable accomplishments. More qualified successes included limits on lobbyist spending on legislators \($500 annual cap per legislator per lobbyist, instead of the $250 Richards had requested, not counting up to $50 per day allowed, instead sure of gifts of personal property worth more than $50 \(Richards and Bullock wanted a candidates the limits applied only to statewide races and were set too high \($1.5 million for governor’s races, half that in othbut that awaits confirmation by lawyers; Earle contends that it may have been opened further. The bill failed to grapple with some of the most vital issues: limits on PAC contributions vealing legislators’ sources of income; disclosure of candidates’ tax returns; the revolving-door problem \(addressed for some lobby spending on living expenses and food and drink. “That’s where the the vast majority of lobby largesse is spent,” Smith maintains. Since the prohibition on using political funds for real estate purchases won’t kick in THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13