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Time running out for lawmakers

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By Jay Miller

Three days to go and a thousand bills to cover. That’s a tall order and it won’t be filled.
At the beginning of this session, when the leadership battle between Democratic candidate Sen. Pete Campos and conservative Democrat candidate Mary Kay Papen was fought, it was explained that the president pro tem of the Senate appointed all the committees. To many, that didn’t seem like a crucial power.
But it is. The committee chairman can hold a bill in his/her committee for the entire session without hearing it. The old accounting principal of first-in, first-out doesn’t apply. An important bill simply can be ignored.
Occasionally it gets less simple. Back in the 60s, Fred Foster, chairman of the House Education Committee, grabbed a bill he didn’t like, placed it in the bottom drawer of his desk. Locked the drawer and proclaimed it would never see the light of day. The action really wasn’t necessary but Fred wanted to make a point.
Sen. Tom Benavides wasn’t even a committee chairman but somehow he got hold of the original copy of a bill, which is the only copy that counts. He got in his car and drove it to Juarez, where it remained for the rest of the session.


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