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The President then made the following announcement:
It has become my duty to announce that a vacancy exists in the 9th Senatorial District of this State, occasioned by the death of William Stoddard, the Senator of that district,
And, also, that a vacancy exists in the 24th Senatorial District, occasioned by the removal of Harrison H. Wheeler from that district.
Mr. Childs announced that Hon. William F. Hewitt, Senator elect from the 8th District was present, with credentials, and prepared to take his seat.
Mr. DeLand announced that Hon. John D. Lewis, Senator elect from the 24th District was present, with credentials, and prepared to take his seat.
Mr. King announced that Hon. John P. Cook, Senator elect from the 9th District was present, with credentials, and prepared to take his seat.
Messrs. Hewitt, Lewis and Cook then came forward, took and subscribed the oath prescribed by the constitution, and took their seats as Senators.
Mr. Sutton moved that a committee of two be appointed to wait upon the House of Representatives and inform that body that the Senate is ready to proceed to business; • Which motion prevailed.
The President announced as such committee Senators Sutton and Butterfield.
After a brief absence the committee returned from the House and reported that they had discharged the duty assigned them.
Report accepted and committee discharged.
21 o'clock P. M.
MESSAGE FROM THE OTHER HOUSE.
The President announced the following:
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Lansing, March 3, 1874. To the President of the Senate :
SIR-I am instructed by the House to inform the Senate that Messrs. Thomas, I. Walker and Hoyt have been appointed on the part of the House to act with a like committee on the part of the Senate to wait upon the Governor, and inform him that the two Houses are prepared to receive any com-munication which he may be pleased to make.
DANIEL L. CROSSMAN,
The message was laid on the table.
Mr. Childs moved that a committee of two be appointed on the part of the Senate to act with the committee already appointed on the part of the House to wait on the Governor and inform him that the two Houses are now ready to receive any communication he may be pleased to make ;
Which motion prevailed.
WHEREAS, Notice of the death of Hon. William Stoddard, late Senator from the 9th Senatorial District, was officially communicated to the Senate this morning by the President, therefore
Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the appreciation of the character of Hon. William Stoddard, late Senator from the county of Hillsdale, and the loss sustained by this Senate and the people of the State, by his death ; Which resolution was adopted.
The President appointed Senators Dewey, Cook, and McGowan as such committee.
After a brief absence the committee appointed to wait upon the Governor returned, and informed the Senate that they had discharged the duty assigned them, and that the Governor had informed them that he would meet the two Houses, in joint convention, at 3 o'clock p. m., and communicate to them by special message.
Report accepted and committee discharged.
Resolved, That the standing rules of the Senate be amended by adding two additional members to the committee on the judiciary, such persons to be named by the chair.
On motion of Mr. Crosby, The resolution was laid on the table. A committee from the House appeared and informed the Senate that the House was in readiness to receive the Senate in joint convention, to hear the message of the Governor.
On motion of Mr. DeLand,
The Sepate proceeded to the Hall of the House of Representatives to meet the House in joint convention.
(For proceedings of the Joint Convention, see House Journal.)
The Senate returned to the Senate Chamber, and was called to order by the President.
Roll called : u quorum present.
The President announced that the Senate had met the House in joint convention, and listened to the reading of the special message by the Governor, Hon. J. J. Bagley. The President also announced the following:
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Lansing, March 3, 1874. To the President of the Senale :
SIR-I am instructed by the House to transmit the message of His Ex
cellency the Governor, delivered this day to the two Houses, in joint convention.
DANIEL L. CROSSMAN,
Clerk of the House of Representatives.
In accordance with the provisions of Joint Resolution No. 19, passed at your
of Washtenaw County, I. M. CRANE,
of Eaton County, I. D. CROUSE,
of Livingston County, JOHN DIVINE,
of Sanilac County, J. R. DEVEREAUX,
of Houghton County, W. M. FERRY,
of Ottawa County, E. W. GIDDINGS,
of Macomb County, H. H. HATCH,
of Bay County, D. H. JEROME,
of Saginaw County, E. W. MEDDAUGH,
of Wayne County, S. C. MOFFATT,
of Leelanaw County, ASHLEY Pond,
of Wayne County, H. H. RILEY,
of St. Joseph County, CHAS. UPSON,
of Branch County, H. G. WELLS,
of Kalamazoo County, E. WILLITS,
of Monroe County, S. L. WITHEY,
of Kent County, L. WOODWARD,
of Oakland County, as a Commission to prepare such amendments and revision of the constitution, as, in their judgment, might be necessary for the best interests of the State and the people. The Commission met at the Capitol on the 27th day of August last, and completed their labors on the 16th day of October, having been in session thirty-nine days. In the appointment of this Commission I endeavored to select gentlemen representing, not only the varied interests of the State, but also the different shades of opinion on public matters. It seems to be the import of the resolution that the report of the Commission be submitted to the present Legislature; and there are many good reasons why this should be done, which have influenced me in calling you together in special session. These are patent to anyone upon a moment's reflection, and need not be enumerated here.
The resolution under which the Commission met declares what is well understood by all, whose business or inclination has called upon them to examine it, “ The existing Constitution of the State of Michigan is defective in many respects, and needs to be amended to conform to the growth and development of the State, and the advanced ideas of the people.” The work of the Commission has now been before the people since October last, and, it is but fair to presume, has received candid and careful attention. In calling you at this time to consider their report, the proposed amendments will be kept before the people, until they shall have an opportunity to express their will upon them at the ballot-box in November next, and cannot fail to have a more intelligent, fair, and careful consideration than if the matter be postponed by waiting for a regular session, until the general election in 1876, when the heat and partisan strife of a Presidential contest will assuredly prevent
questions of State interest, of however much importance, from receiving the unprejudiced judgment of our citizens. I doubt not that each one of you has already given the subject careful and earnest attention, and I hope your action as a body may be such as will, approved by the people, give to the State Constitution that will be a chart without errors for every public officer,-a sure guarantee to every citizen of his individual rights, and by and under which our State may continue its progressive march in the development of its material resources, and establish economy, prudence, and fidelity in the management of public affairs, as the organic law.
I feel it hardly my province to express an opinion as to the merits or demerits of the amendments, or to make such suggestions or recommendations as would be expected upon usual matters of legislation, yet I cannot refrain from briefly alluding to some of the propositions of the Commission.
I deem first in importance the provisions pertaining to finance and taxation. Sec. 1, ART. X No county, city, township, or other municipal corporation, shall become a stockholder in, or make any loan or gift to, or lend its credit in aid of, any person, private corporation or association; nor shall any county, city, township, or other municipality construct or become the owner of any railroad. The provisions of this section shall not prevent such municipalities from aiding enlistments and in the support of the families of soldiers in time of war; or supporting their poor in such manner as may be provided by law.
Sec. 2, Art. X. Each organized county shall be a body corporate, with such powers and immunities as shall be [established] prescribed by law. All suits and proceedings by or against a county shall be in the name thereot. The power of counties to levy taxes, borrow money, and contract debts, shall be restricted by law.
SEC. 15, ART. X. No city or village shall incur indebtedness, including that incurred by or on behalf of any school district within its corporate limits, so that its aggregate debt at any time shall exceed ten per cent on the valuation of its taxable property, 18 shown by the assessment roll.
Sec. 5, ART. XIV. Every law hereafter enacted by the legislature, creating a debt or author.. izing a loan, shall provide a sinking fund for the payment of the same.
SEC. 9, ART. XIV. The State shall not aid, by gift, or pledge of its credit, any person or cor. poration, nor shall it subscribe to, or become interested in, the stock of any corporation, nor assume any indebtedness of a municipal or other corporation. The provisions of this section shall not apply to educational, charitable, reformatory or penal institutions which are, or may be, under the care and control of the State.
These are golden words, and might well be engraved on stone and placed in the walls of every capitol in the land. They say to us, " Keep out of debt if possible, but if you must make a debt, let it be for a legitimate purpose, restrict it to your ability to pay, and provide for its payment.
Happily for us as a people, we have not been as wasteful and improvident in contracting debts for schemes, which ought either to be paid out of current taxation, or not sanctioned at all, as many of our sister States have been. While our State debt is decreasing annually, every year sees the bonded indebtedness of our cities and towns increase. The policy of issuing bonds for municipal and local purposes is unwise, expensive, and leads to public extravagance. The people of a municipality in voting for the issue of a thousanddollar ten per cent bond for twenty years, forget that the moment the bond is issued they have assumed an obligation of three thousand dollars.
There is, of course, a class of county, city, and township improvements that the future should perhaps belp pay for. This, however, is amply provided for by permitting an indebtedness equaling ten per cent of the valuation.
The adoption of the several provisions above enumerated in the organic law of the State will forever close the door against the schemes of selfish speculators in paper railroads and other wild financial plans. We shall be prudent in our public expenditures, out of debt and out of danger, and set an example, as a State, worthy of imitation by each citizen in his private busi
Had the spirit of these provisions been the rule of action in the man
agement of private and public affairs, we should not have witnessed such a panic as that which so recently swept over our country.
In no department of its labors have the Commission shown more wisdom tban in the provisions in Sec. 22, Art. IV., restricting special legislation, confining the business of law-making within its proper bounds, and thereby saving an incalculable amount of public time and money.
Fully one-half of the time of each legislative session is consumed in enacting special laws for individuals, localities, and prirate interests that are of no interest or necessity to the general public.
Special and local acts receive less careful consideration than those in which the public at large are interested, and thus much unwise and mischievous legislation finds its way into our statute books.
General laws are safer and better in every case in which they can be made to accomplish the desired end. Over-governing is a growing evil that these restrictions would do much to cure.
The changes proposed in the judiciary department, in Article VI., are radical. The proposed increase in the number of the Supreme Court Judges to five would give a permanency and solidity to judicial decisions that an evenly divided court cannot give, while the increase of business coming before the court will soon require an additional Judge.
Believing that education is a necessity to good self-government, we spend millions of dollars annually, to educate ourselves and those who are to come after us, to make sure that our government shall be good; and so long as our people are thus educated, just eo long will they be fitted to elect their own judges.
Our experience for the past twenty-five years with an elective judiciary is to my mind an abundant proof of this statement.
In very many cases partisanship has been silent, and the people have united in casting their suffrages for judges whom they knew to be upright and capable, regardless of all other considerations. There can be no higher evidence of the fitness of an intelligent people to select their own judges than this. I believe that whenever political power is taken away from a people, their fitness to be intrusted with power is decreased, and that whenever they are called upon to perform new duties, they are stimulated to fit themselves to perform them intelligently and well.
The Commission, in sections 1 and 2 of Article IX, provide that in lieu of the present salaries paid the State Officers and Judges, they shall be fixed by the Legislature. That the salaries of some of the State officers, and especially those of the Circuit Judges, demand a revision, seems to be generally conceded. Very many of our counties have, at different times, made appropriations to be paid directly to the Circuit Judge. There is no practice so reprehensible as this; but the necessity of it has seemed so apparent that the impropriety and illegality of it has been overlooked. I trust that by no action of yours or the people will our county authorities be tempted in the future to make these unconstitutional appropriations. Since the first of January, 1873, five of our Circuit Judges have resigned, for the reason that they could not pay their expenses and support their families with their salary. These frequent changes in the judiciary, in the matter of expense alone, cost more than a fair salary, while they take away from our judicial system what should be its leading characteristics, viz.: permanency and stability.