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307 WEST 5TH STREET AUSTIN, TX 512.477.1137 Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, which failed to call the bill week after week. “Each week we’ve been waiting in anticipation, and it’s getting later and later’ ,’ he said. There are 29 death row inmates in Texas who were convicted as juveniles, 23 of whom are minorities. Long represents one of them, Napoleon Beasley, who was convicted of a 1994 carjacking murder in Tyler. His case has been appealed to the Supreme Court; his execution is scheduled for August. “In every other aspect of the law, a 17-year-old is a legal infant, in terms of competency to execute a will or contract, or commit a tort:’ says Long, who notes that since 1990, Texas has executed one quarter of all juveniles executed worldwide. Currently, he adds, no other country in the world allows the execution of juveniles, except for perhaps Iran \(where the Burnam, too, thought that the committee, chaired by Rep. Juan Hinojosa \(Dbill: “A lot of people have a real vindictive attitude toward children. The signal that I’m getting is that the chairman thinks this one doesn’t have a chance of making it through the process’ ,’ Burnam said at the time. Texans concerned about the death penalty should take heart in the likely success of other bills this session, he added, noting that a bill providing for state-funded DNA testing of some inmates has been signed by the governor, and a ban on executing the mentally retarded has passed out of committee in both houses. Meanwhile, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee passed a bill on April 11 calling for a statewide vote on a two-year death penalty moratorium. Surprise: on April 18, just as we went to press, H.B. 2048 was reported out of committee. Those liberals can be such pessimists sometimes. YOU MAKE THE CALL In early April, a crack team of Texas legislators Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff, Senator Rodney Ellis, House Speaker Pete Laney, and House Approrpriations Committee Chairman Rob Junelltraveled to Washington to meet with President Bush and with Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, with whom they raised concerns about Medicaid costs. Democratic spin: forced by Presidential politics to cut taxes last session, Texas must now go to the Bush administration to beg for money. An alternate view: The Texans were there to “have a discussion:’ not ask for moneythis according to Ratliff’s press secretary Nick Voinis. Granted, they did discuss some important issues: for instance, the fact that the federal share of Medicaid costs is based on a state’s overall economic status. \(Because of this, and because many other regions of the state are doing relatively well, the Texas border gets less federal Medicaid money by percentage appear that most of those issues seemed to involve, well, asking for more money. CRY OF THE WOUNDED BOOZE BARON Shipping alcohol in, out and around Texas hasn’t been straightforward since at least Prohibition. Part of the reason for the shipping complications lies with the “three-tiered” system set up by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code in 1935. The Code’s three classes of alcohol handlersproducers, wholesalers and retailersare kept separate to discourage a booze monopoly. For the most part it has worked, except that only four companies control wholesaling of all liquor and 85 percent of wine. The drawback for small wineries in Texas is that it’s bad economics for them to pass their wine through this second tierthey just can’t produce the volume that would make up for the low profit per bottle, and they say the wholesalers aren’t interested in them anyway. The wholesalers are very interested, however, in preventing small wineries from selling booze straight to the public. 892 would let wineries ship to wet areas anywhere in the state, providing they and the shipper have special permits. It also allows wineries in wet areas to sell onpremises, a move Swinford’s office says is meant to encourage tourism. To open the spigot to other states, Rep. Anna 1046, a bill that would allow wineries to ship straight to residents through the creation of new shippers’ and carriers’ permits. “It’ll make the difference between being profitable and not’ ,’ said Ed Manigold of Spicewood Winery. “The direct economic impact would be about $500,000 as opposed to maybe $50,000 now.” He said the area’s income from tourism would be about $1.5 million and that sales tax revenues would increase one-hundred-fold. The big distributors aren’t giving up without a fight. They’ve argued that the bills would let minors order wine for themselves, especially over the Internet. “I’m just fascinated how concerned the booze people are about minors getting wine:’ Mowery scoffed. “They’re going to order wine and wait so many weeks to get it?” Despite her bill’s requirement that a 21-year-old sign for delivered wine the Licensed Beverage Distributors of Texas, a wholesalers’ lobby, has campaigned against them. This took an embarrassing turn in March when wholesalers distributed postcards depicting a white teen selling alcohol in a blighted downtown setting, complete with gang graffiti and a black youth in the scene. Several black legislators took offense at the racial stereotype in the appeal, and the mailing was discontinued. If the winery bills pass, the big distributors may be hit in the ego more than the wallet. Tim Dodd of the Wine Marketing Research Institute at Texas Tech says that experience from other states and countries has shown that letting small wineries ship directly to customers would affect the amount going through wholesalers in “the one percent range” WEGIVEUP We were discouraged to learn of our irrelevance in Larry L. King’s fine piece on former Texas Observer editor Willie Morris, which appears in the May issue of Texas Monthly: “After reading Willie’s reporting on the Legislature,” King writes, “no less than Norman Mailer said that ‘neither he nor anybody else need bother with the subject further:” 4/27/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13