Слике страница

The first two maladjustments, namely, absence of correlation between the respective committees of the two houses and lack of centralization of related work in the hands of single committees, are due largely to historical and political causes. Committees have grown up irregularly with the needs of the state. When a new and important function is undertaken, there is great pressure to establish a new committee rather than to relate the work to that of an appropriate committee already in existence. Each new committee affords new opportunities to make assignments to importunate members who are often more anxious for selfadvertisement than for work. Each new committee also brings in its train clerkships and other perquisites which are regularly employed to reward party service. Thus no permanent staff of informed experts is ever found attached to ordinary committee service. The results of frequently entrusting important functions to a body of inexperienced legislators assigned to a committee and aided by a staff of servants recruited from local party workers are so patent as to need no commentary here.

The second maladjustment, the lack of co-ordination of the legislative committees to the great branches of state administration is to be attributed to two causes. In the first place the administrative organization of the state has been so broken into minor and disjointed subdivisions that an adjustment of committees to them has been impossible. In the second place, the idea that the legislature should be a genuine scrutinizing agency over the several branches of administration instead of a seeker after patronage in them is so recent as to have received little or no attention from those concerned with legislative organization and procedure.

Legislative Staff Agencies

Although legislation is an exceedingly complicated and technical function, being related on the one hand to complex human relations and to previous acts and judicial decisions on the other, it is only recently that state legislatures have begun to build up a permanent expert service. At the present time the legislature of New York has at its command the following staff agencies:

1. A legislative bill drafting commission composed of two com

missioners and charged with the duty of aiding in drafting legislation, giving advice as to constitutionality and other legal questions, making researches as to proposed legislation, and advising on matters of consolidation of the laws.

2. A commissioner charged with the duty of indexing the laws and statutes of the state.

3. A temporary board of statutory consolidation composed of five members charged with the duty of reporting to the

legislature a practice act, rules of court, and short forms-
the consolidation and simplification of the civil practice
of the courts of the state.

4. A board of estimate composed of the governor, lieutenant-
governor, president pro tempore of the senate, the chair-
man of the finance committee of the senate, the speaker
of the assembly, the comptroller, the attorney general and
the commissioner of efficiency and economy (now abol-
ished) and authorized to prepare and transmit to the
legislature an estimate for a budget for the amount re-
quired to be appropriated by the legislature for the con-
duct of public business for the ensuing fiscal year.
5. A commission for the promotion of uniform legislation in the
United States to consider and recommend uniform laws
on certain specified subjects.

6. A number of special commissions from time to time to report
on matters for legislative action.

It is evident from a survey of these agencies that some of them could be consolidated in the interest of efficiency and economy and at least one of them, the board of estimate, is not adapted to the purpose for which it was created.* There is certainly no reason why the promotion of uniform legislation and the indexing of the statutes should be separated from the general work of the bill drafting commission. In giving proper technical advice, that commission must be entirely familiar with existing law and in a position to index it with more precision than an independent officer. The promotion of uniform legislation is not so remote from bill drafting and legislative research that it requires separate organization and office equipment. The constant resort to special commissions on legislative subjects suggests that the staff agencies for supplying information to the legislature must be inadequately equipped for the performance of the duties vested in them by law.

Local Legislation

The working power of the best organization in the world can be utterly destroyed by overloading it with details and by constantly injecting extraneous issues concerning which the members cannot possibly be informed. What may be said, therefore, of our state legislatures which are now overburdened with a mass of legislation relative to the affairs of counties, towns, villages, and cities, about which the members in general are almost wholly ignorant and the members from the localities involved only partially informed? It is a well-known fact that each legis

*For a discussion of the board of estimate see the Proceedings of the New York Academy of Political Science for October, 1914, pp. 141-192.

lator is constantly harassed by the demands of his constituents for local legislation, that the pressure to obtain this legislation compels him to sacrifice larger affairs of the state to local necessity, that the time of the legislature is withdrawn from the consideration of great questions to the transaction of petty business and that the finances of the state and of localities are disorganized and wasted by special legislation.

The present constitution recognizes the evils connected with this system and touches upon it slightly (Art. III, secs. 16, 20, 26, 27; Art. VIII, sec. 10; Art. XII, sec. 2), but it does not go to the root of the difficulty, namely, by conferring home rule upon counties and cities in such a form to relieve the local communities of the necessity of constant application to the legislature for powers.

Of course, it is obvious that by conferring general powers of local legislation upon cities and counties, the problem of the state and the community is not solved. Questions as to what powers are actually conferred upon the communities will constantly arise, and the will of the state must be superior to that of the local body. The limitations on the legislature are in this regard subject to judicial interpretation and by granting home rule to localities the control of the courts may be substituted for control by the legislatures.

There is, however, another method of exercising the control of the state over local legislation. Local legislation under general grants of power may be subject to administrative supervision in the first instance, with appeal to the courts as the last resort. In Michigan, where general powers are conferred upon counties, important local legislation under this grant is subject to the approval of the governor. In California, it is submitted to the legislature for approval or rejection. In England, the most satisfactory solution of the problem seems to have been made.*

If the vast mass of local and special bills which now clog the legislative machine, divert attention from matters of large significance, and degrade members to the level of negotiators for petty local favors, could be disposed of in such a manner as to secure state-wide control, and at the

*In England the power to authorize local bodies to perform many functions and undertake various enterprises is vested by law in several appropriate central administrative officers, subject to the approval of Parliament. When a local body seeks a new power or authorization it applies to the appropriate department. On receiving an application the department makes inquiry into the advisability of granting the request, holds hearings, and gives all interested parties a chance to be heard. All orders granted are arranged in proper groups and submitted to Parliament for its approval. If there is no objection to any of the orders the entire group goes through unopposed. If there is objection, then a hearing is granted and the measure is treated like any other ordinary bill. In practice, however, this relieves parliament of a large mass of petty legislation and centralizes the initial responsibility in the hands of expert administrative officers. See in Lowell, The Government of England, Vol. I., Chap. xx.

same time relieve the legislature, the gain for efficiency and real responsibility would undoubtedly be enormous. Any reduction in the amount of "log-rolling" is a step in the direction of better government, and the substitution of administrative for legislative control over matters of local concern is full of promise.



In other relations it has been said that one of the prime reasons for the representative system is to make officers charged with carrying on or administering affairs of state responsible to the people for their acts; and that this, when analyzed, means: responsibility for leadership, responsibility for the fidelity and fitness of subordinates, and responsibility for efficiency in management—for the use of men and money as measured by results. It has also been said that the function of the legislature is to serve as a regularly organized constitutional means for enforcing executive responsibility. This suggests consideration of the provisions in the constitution of the state defining the regulations of the legislature and the executive.

Responsibility for Use of Executive Power Implies Leadership

Responsibility for the use of executive power inevitably implies leadership. Executive power and leadership cannot be separated. In both public and private business, those who are charged with high duties. and who are made responsible for their proper discharge must be leaders or failures. On the contrary, irresponsible official leadership means autocracy. Irresponsible, unofficial leadership means domination by political "boss."

Need for Executive Leadership Understood at Time of First Constitution

At the time the first constitution was adopted there was a very definite comprehension of the need for executive leadership, though, as before pointed out, the plan for making the official leader responsible had not been developed as a matter of public law (above pp. 54-58). It was also understood that autocracy must be prevented at any cost. The wellestablished constitutional principle was therefore adopted that the administrative officer must wait on legislative authority before he could raise or spend money, before he could proceed with any undertaking. As has been shown, this principle is not inconsistent with executive leadership. But does not in itself provide for executive leadership. So far as the executive is concerned it is purely negative in its importance. It is positive only in the opportunity it gives for the enlargement of legislative power when executive leadership is not provided for.

The conclusion that the need for executive leadership was understood when the government was first established, appears from the provision of the organic law of the state, which declares that "the executive power shall be vested in a governor," but, paradoxical as it may sound, the first

« ПретходнаНастави »