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This bill directs that Texas public school children be taught that the only “certain way” to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage. No published clinical trials have compared marriage with the use of latex condoms for the prevention of venereal disease. Abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage did not protect Dallasite Suzanne Wilson from HIV infection, as she stresses in her AIDS education talks to North Texas young people. A former UT sorority member, Wilson contracted the virus from her husband, Cragg, who was infected by his intravenous drug use at a high school graduation party. Rankings are entirely arbitrary. Readers are invited to submit their own examples of measures before the Legislature which demonstrate high levels of idiocy, underhandedness, and/or avarice. Contact Mary O’Grady, The Bad Bills Girl, TO, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701; telephone 512-477-0746. Continued from p.24 Gonzalo Barrientos, D-Austin, in a speech on the Senate floor, suggested that a more effective way to get Stern off the air is to contact his sponsors, including Sears, Gatorade and Heineken Beer. Rosson said civility needs to be restored to public debate. “We have to tell them to shut up: We’re tired of it and we’re not going to listen to it any more.” SMOKING SENATOR John Whitmire got a standing ovation from most of his colleagues after his histrionic “personal privilege” speech to the Senate April 12 blasting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for seeking to hold the state to its commitment to test auto emissions in “nonattainment areas” such as Dallas, Houston, Southeast Texas and El Paso, where ozone levels exceed federal standards. Whitmire also blasted Tejas Testing, which had contracted with the state to be the only company authorized to conduct the tests, only to see the program suspended for 90 days in January. In the interim Whitmire has come up with a plan to let car safety inspection sites conduct the emissions tests, but Mary Nichols, an EPA official, wrote Gov. George W. Bush a letter warning that Whitmire’s plan would not meet Clean Air Act standards. “It is unbelievable to me that the federal government is now trying to get involved in our legislative process,” Whitmire said. He added that said his own campaign consultant and several other lobbyists had been hired to assist Tejas Testing in derailing the alternative plan. Turner on Tort Reform Waco Republican Senator David Sibley’s Bill, which would limit punitive damages in civil lawsuits, is scheduled to be signed by Governor Bush this week. Last week, when the bill was debated on the House Floor, Houston Democrat Sylvester Turner offered an amendment that would have “levelled the playing field for the rich and poor in court.” Although more than 40 House members voted for it, Turner’s amendment was rejected. He later explained why he thought the bill is unfair: THIS BILL AWARDS punitive damages based on a person’s socialeconomic status. The whole aim of puni tive damages is to punish the wrongdoer. I mean, you’re punishing people for maliciously putting a product into the market, a product that causes harm. So you want to punish. That should not be based on socialeconomic status, whether one is poor or one is rich. If GM puts a product on the market and that product is defective and causes harm, the punitive amount should be the same regardless of who you are. What this bill says is that if you are poor and harmed or injured by that product, you get less. If you are affluent, rich, you get more. It’s based on two times the economic damages, which is like lost wages and what your medical [expenses] are. So if you’re making less, the two-times formula is going to be less. Plus non-economic, not to exceed $750,000. That’s the built-in fallacy with the bill. If you are making $20,000, compared to someone making $60,000 a year, the punitive damage will be less. That’s a built-in flaw. Now, suppose you have a poor person and a rich person, and in the same accident both of them have their legs cut off. The punitive damage award is going to be different, based on social-economic status. And to me that is a gross injustice. Because it’s saying to the general public that the wrongdoer should pay less if the person is poor but should pay more if the person is more affluent. That is not the message that you want to send to people who rely on the judicial arena to be a forum of fairness and justice. Because what you’re saying is that, yes, you go to the judicial system. But don’t expect the same return as someone who’s making more money that you are. So how do I go back, for example, to my district, and say to them, ‘Yes, we placed the caps on punitive damages, but if you’re making more you’ll get more and if you’re making less you’re going to get less? And that’s what we did in the name of tort reform. We’ve done it in the name of tort of reform. And I don’t care how you couch it, it is fundamentally unfair. That’s the argument I made in committee and that’s why I voted against the bill. I was the only one who voted against the bill in committee, although there were several others who agreed with me. I made those arguments then. Made those arguments on the floor and I’m going to make those arguments when I return to my district…to let people know what we’ve done and let people know what it means. If you pick up the phone and ask the people if they favor tort reform and putting caps on punitive damages, they may say yes. But if you [ask if we should] base it on a person’s wealth, I bet you that most people in the state of Texas will say no. If a product is defective, and if the manufacturer knows the product is defective when it leaves, and puts it in the flow of commerce, the punishment should be the same and should not vary based on one’s social-economic status. That’s a principled argument, it’s a fair argument and it’s a real argument. ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 5 12 45315:13 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip FOR THE RECORD THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11