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Continued from p. 12 Democrat Doyle Willis can remember. Curtis Seidlits Seidlits was characterized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the key players in Austin, whose name hardly “rings any bells.” The four-term Democrat from Sherman had to move one of the session’s big-money issues, tort reform, through the State Affairs Committee that he chairs. Trial lawyers and lobbyists for consumer interests characterized Seidlits as being fair, running an open committee and keeping the playing field as level as possible, considering the money that was poured into the tort reform campaign. “He ensured that a lot of input came through the committee, not just in negotiations; the Senate hearings were a mere formality,” one consumer advocate said. A trial lawyer who followed the tort reform process described Seidlits as a voice of reason, “who looked at the tort-reform battle from the perspective of a statesman.” The Journal speculates that he is headed for Congress to replace 71-yearold Ralph Hall, when the conservative Democrat from Rockwall retires. Or running for speaker when Laney steps aside. Seidlits also had served as co-chair of the interim committee that prepared the telecommunications reform bill, one of the most complex legislative packages to move through the Legislature this session. Elliott Naishtat Characterized by one political reporter as “the oldest Boy Scout,” Naishtat has, after three sessions passed a critical mass of good legislation. Bill by bill, from tenants’rights legislation to environmental protection bills, the Austin Democrat has; in small ways, made life better for working people, children, patients in nursing homes and mothers unable to collect on child-support. Last session he passed more bills than any other member and this session he is again among the leaders. But by improving the world in small increments, he is something of a stealth legislator, filing most of his bills below the radar of vested economic interests. Like other beleaguered members of the Travis County delegation, with the exception of Susan Combs, who does much of the beleaguering, Naishtat has had to fight the developers who use the Legislature to circumvent Austin’s environmental regulation. Naishtat, a former aide to Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, has the same values he brought with him when he arrived in Texas 28 years ago as a VISTA volunteer from New York. The difference is that now he is making it into law. Glen Maxey “Glen Maxey has become an expert on the parliamentary process,” said Austin envi Elliott Naishtat, Sherri Greenberg ronmental attorney Mary Kelly, adding that Maxey, who has served in the House since 1991, doesn’t rely exclusively on parliamentary skills. “He fights, he stands up for what he believes in,” said Kelly. “He has become a really great legislator.” Maxey took on the session’s environmental bete noir, Susan Combs, in a floor fight over Combs’ takings bill and by the end of a day spent collaborating with small cabal of House members, much of the bill’s harm was, at least temporarily, undone. Maxey, at the very least, forced the House into a moment or two of self-examination when he delivered a speech on one of a dozen “Austin-bashing” billscrude assaults on environmental regulation by legislators “whorin”‘ for developers. At his best, he pressed on with his standard human-services agenda, passing, for example, a bill that regulates the sale and purchase of viaticals, a new practice by which the terminally ill sell life insurance policies to a third parties, thus providing themselves with needed cash before they die. Maxey’s bill puts the unregulated and often exploitative viaticals business under the control of the Texas Insurance Commissioner. As the whip for the Legislative Study Group Maxey provided information and organized floor support and opposition, while still working his own bills. Sheni Greenberg Perhaps the most moderate member of the Travis County delegationbarring Susan Combs, which in itself is a good idea Greenberg has also, bill after bill, made the state a better place. “Sherri jumped in with both feet on our issues,” said Debby Tucker, of the Texas Council on Family Violence. According to Tucker, a Greenberg bill that creates a centralized computer record of protective orders will make travel much safer for women who are threatened by spouses or companions. “If someone is visiting their family and an abusive spouse shows up, the woman can prove to local authorities that there is an order that keeps that person 100 feet away from her,” Tucker said. Currently, records of protective orders are often kept on file cards in county offices. Tucker added, a computerized list of protective orders will make it easier to apply a provision of the federal Brady Bill that prohibits anyone under a protective order from purchasing a handgun. Greenberg was co-sponsor of the judicial campaign finance reform bill with Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston and she also managed to get the House to approve a non-binding referendum on the right to carry a concealed weapon, though the measure, like many good measures enacted by the House, was killed in the Senate. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29