Everybody liked Edmund Kuempel. He never had a mean word for anybody. No one enjoyed being in the House more than he did. Longtime Capitol observers will recall the days when he went around the floor stealing kisses from women colleagues. After his heart attack in a House elevator near the end of last session, no one thought he would ever return to the chamber again, but, after quick action by Dr. John Zerwas, he made back it before the end of the session. Kuempel ran unopposed for reelection. He was chair of Licensing and Administrative Procedures, a committee that handles a lot of bills that can get members in trouble (gambling, liquor), and ran it without any problems–and that is saying a lot for that committee. I will tell you my one and only Edmund Kuempel story. Back in 2003, when UT won the NCAA basketball regional in San Antonio, and the Legislature was fighting over tort reform, my son and I left the arena early to beat the traffic. A car came speeding up the aisle toward us. I kept waiting for it to slow down, getting more nervous by the second. It squealed to a stop a few feet away. I shielded my eyes from the headlights. What maniac was driving? It was Kuempel and his wife. “I thought you might want to be in an accident before tort reform passes,” Kuempel said, “because you’ll never collect a dime afterward,” and he squealed away. Rest in peace, big guy.
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