The Globe-News profiles Amarillo's more-or-less hometown Approps Chair.
Procedure is policy.
Unlike virtually all of his colleagues in the Texas Legislature, Rep. Warren Chisum never went to college.
Yet, in his 18-year legislative career, the Pampa Republican not only gradually became a key player, but now he is chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee, the most influential committee in the 181-member, two-chamber Legislature
He didn't go to college because he and his wife, Omega, decided to get married when they were high school sweethearts. The couple, who has two children, Jeff and Kim, and five grandchildren, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in August.
"I hesitate to say we couldn't afford college, but it would've been easier for my family than her family, but together we could not have gone," Chisum said. "So we decided to go to work and I went to work in Pampa in the oil fields and I was fortunate to have made enough money" to eventually start a business.
But starting a business and eventually getting elected to the House were hard work, he remembers.
Compared to most of his colleagues, especially from the Panhandle and the South Plains, Chisum is also an exception. He got into politics late, at age 50. And during his first term, he considered not returning to Austin for a second time.
"I decided pretty quickly that probably this wasn't the place for me to stay so I had some second thoughts about it," he said. But he changed his mind after studying the House rules and procedures.
"I felt when I came back the second time that I had a distinct advantage (over other legislators) because I studied the procedures," he said.
If memory serves, former House Appropriations Chair Talmadge Heflin doesn't have a degree either. That's a bit of a surprising coincidence. But then, getting a degree doesn't make you any smarter.
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