TABLE OF CONTENTS
Texas Legislature, House of Representatives, Special Investigation Committee on the Reburial of Felix Longoria:
An Inventory of Special Investigation Committee on the Reburial of Felix Longoria Reports and Routing Correspondence at the Texas State Archives, 1949
The Texas House of Representatives is one arm of the Legislature of the State of Texas (the other being the Texas Senate), which the Texas Constitution (Article III, Section 1) vests with all legislative power of the state. The primary legislative power is enacting laws, and the most visible function of the legislature is to make public policy through drafting, considering, and passing bills and resolutions. Biennially, the House of Representatives elects a speaker from its membership to serve as its presiding officer. The House of Representatives consists of 150 representatives elected in even-numbered years for two-year terms. A representative must be at least twenty-one years old, a qualified voter, and a resident of Texas for at least two years and of the district represented for at least one year immediately preceding election.
In addition to legislative powers, the legislature exercises other types of authority. Constituent powers include the ability to alter the state constitution, and the members' authority to exercise powers of attorney in behalf of their constituents. Directory and supervisory powers allow the legislature to regulate the state's administrative machinery, made up of boards, commissions, and departments that conduct the affairs of state. The legislature establishes and funds these bodies and defines their functions. Executive powers of each house include selection of legislative officers, employees, and chairs and members of committees. Investigative powers are exercised through the formation of standing, special, interim, and joint committees to study an issue. House committees are usually charged with a particular purpose by the speaker, although this may also be accomplished by a resolution adopted by the house. Each legislative house holds judicial powers over its members, including punishing or expelling members for cause.
The legislature meets in regular session on the second Tuesday in January of odd-numbered years and in special sessions when convened by the governor. The length of the regular session is limited to 140 days. Special sessions are limited to 30 days, but the number of special sessions that may be called is not limited. Only legislative matters submitted by the governor may be considered in special session. All legislative sessions, except for the senate's executive session, are open. Neither house may, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days or move to a place other than where the legislature is sitting. Two-thirds of each house constitutes a quorum, the number of members required to conduct business. If a quorum is not present, a smaller number may vote to adjourn and compel absent members to attend. The house is required to keep and publish a journal of its proceedings and to record the vote on any question on which three members who are present demand an actual count of yeas and nays.
The House of Representatives functions through committees set up under its own rules. The house maintains more standing committees than the senate. By custom the speaker appoints standing, special, and conference committees, although the house is free to designate its own method of selection. Under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1961, the committee system was expanded, and provisions were made whereby standing, special, and general investigating committees created by each body could function whether or not the legislature was in session. As of 2009, the house has 34 standing committees:
(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, 11th (2001) ed.; and the Texas House of Representatives Committees web page http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/welcome.htm, accessed February 19, 2009.)
In June 1945, Private First Class Felix Longoria of Three Rivers in South Texas, was killed while on a volunteer mission on Luzon in the Philippines during World War II. His remains were not recovered until 1948 and were then shipped home for burial. In January 1949, the funeral director in Three Rivers and Longoria's widow, Beatrice Longoria, discussed the use of his chapel for her husband's services, and at that point their stories diverged. The funeral director would later claim the two agreed that discord among the Longoria family might cause a disturbance in the chapel, and so Longoria's house would be used for the service. Longoria said that the funeral director refused use of the chapel because the white population of Three Rivers would not want Mexican Americans to hold a service there. She discussed the matter with her sister, who put her in touch with Dr. Hector Garcia, founder of the American G.I. Forum, a civil rights organization for Mexican Americans. Garcia received the same rationale from the funeral director that Longoria claimed she did, and he brought the matter to the attention of U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, who quickly arranged for Felix Longoria to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The burial took place on February 16, 1949.
The next day, February 17, 1949, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Simple Resolution 68, 51st Texas Legislature, Regular Session, to create an investigating committee in regard to the reburial of Felix Longoria, to establish the accuracy of reports of discrimination in the matter which had received international publicity. The five-member committee consisted of Representatives Cecil Storey, chair; Tom Cheatham; James M. Windham; Byron R. Tinsley; and Frank Oltorf. On April 7, the committee filed two reports; the majority report concluded that no discrimination had taken place, while the minority report signed only by Oltorf held that the funeral director's words and actions were discriminatory.
(Sources include: the enabling legislation, the Handbook of Texas Online article on the Felix Longoria Affair, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/FF/vef1.html, accessed February 6, 2009, and the materials themselves.)
The Texas House of Representatives is one arm of the Legislature of the State of Texas (the other being the Texas Senate), which the Texas Constitution (Article III, Section 1) vests with all legislative power of the state. In February 1949, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Simple Resolution 68, 51st Texas Legislature, Regular Session, to create an investigating committee in regard to the reburial of Felix Longoria, a U.S. soldier from Texas killed in the Philippines during World War II, to establish the accuracy of reports of discrimination in the matter which had received international publicity. These records consist of the majority and minority reports of the Special Investigation Committee on the Reburial of Felix Longoria and accompanying routing correspondence, 1949. The reports are typewritten copies sent to U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson by Texas State Representative Abraham Kazen, Jr. on the day the reports were filed in the Texas House, April 7, 1949. Copies of the letter from Kazen to Johnson on that date, and a reply from Johnson four days later, accompany the reports. The majority report includes a paragraph crossed out but still readable, that did not appear in the published report in the House Journal. The records of the committee, cited in the majority report as consisting of 372 pages contained in three volumes, are not held at the State Archives, and their whereabouts are unknown.
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
Special Investigation Committee on the Reburial of Felix Longoria reports and routing correspondence, House of Representatives, Texas Legislature. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 1990/144
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum on May 29, 1990.
Rebecca Romanchuk, February 2009
The Journal of the Texas House of Representatives, 51st Legislature, Regular Session (1949) includes the majority and minority reports of the committee, p. 1420-1424. The journal is available online at the Texas Legislative Reference Library website through its Legislative Reports database.
Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, Austin, Texas