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EDITORIAL LEGISL DODGE WAITING FOR CHOLERA AND FREE TRADE Pg. 12 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES JANUARY 15, 1993 $1.75 FTER THE BUDGET,” a former legislator used to say, “everything else is poetry.” The 73rd Legislature, which opens its biennial 140-day session on January 12, will face a big enough task trying to provide the same level of service as its predecessor did \(See “Hard Cash, But there is plenty of poetry to be written in the next five months. The election moved the Texas Senate toward the center while the House of Representatives will get a new Speaker in Pete Laney, a conservative Democrat from Hale Center, but one with a reputation for working with a broad range of legislators. A redistricting plan ordered by Republican federal judges last year helped the GOP increase to 13 seats and crack the one-third barrier in the 31-member Senate. That may force the remaining Democratic majority to change the required a two-thirds vote to bring bills to the floor. Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock is a case study in pragmatism; it remains to be seen whether the nominal majority will try to enact a Democratic redistricting plan that could return the Senate to a two-thirds majority in 1994. Such a rearrangement likely would sacrifice two or three Democratic incumbents, who in the interim could form a working coalition with the Republicans. Democrats will hold on to their 92-58 majority in the House of Representatives, pending resolution of a challenge in Harris County District 144, where a late count of write-in votes provided Robert E. Talton, a Deer Park Republican, with a 70-vote margin of victory over Donald Peter Fogo, a Pasadena Democrat. But Pete Laney has more than enough pledges of support to guarantee his election as House Speaker. With 18 new Democrats and 16 new Republicans, the House is probably marginally more progressive than its predecessor, but the balance of power still resides in the center and is subject to the manipulation of lobbyists. Some of the issues to watch include: Civil Rights: Several civil rights advocacy groups are advocating passage of a state civil rights law, which would make state law conform with the new federal law. Passage of civil rights and hate crimes bills would provide additional employment protection, prohibit discrimination in contracts and change the burden of proof in class action suits to allow civil rights relief in state courts rather than federal courts, which under the Reagan and Bush administrations have become “somewhat hostile to these cases,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas also is promoting legislation to prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians, including discrimination in family court Continued on pg. 3