Слике страница

3. We have provided further safeguards against abuses in legislative procedure, by requiring that all bills shall be printed in their final form at least three days before their passage, prohibiting riders on appropriation bills, providing for notice to municipal authorities before special acts relating to the larger cities can take effect, prohibiting the issue of passes by railroad, telegraph and telephone companies to public officers, enlarging the express constitutional powers of the president of the Senate, and changing the date for the annual meeting of the Legislature from Tuesday to Wednesday for the better convenience of the members of the Legislature.

4. We have removed the prohibition against the sale of the Onondaga Salt Springs which are a source of annual loss to the State. We have also removed the prohibition against the sale of the Hamburg canal in Buffalo, which is about one mile in length and which serves no purpose except to breathe pestilence. We have also provided that the public lands in the Forest Preserves shall never be sold or leased, and that the timber thereon shall never be cut. This amendment is deemed important, as it will preserve the water supply of our principal streams and a health resort for the people of the State.

5. We have removed from the Constitution all mention of the office of coroner so that the Legislature may deal freely with that branch of the public service now in such unsatisfactory condition.

6. The passion for gambling to which the system of lotteries formerly ministered has found fresh opportunity under the so-called Ives pool bill, and under color and pretext of betting upon horse races, is working widespread demoralization and ruin among the young and weak throughout the community. We have extended the prohibition against lotteries so as to include all pool-selling, book-making and other forms of gambling.

It is claimed that this provision will array in opposition to the proposed Constitution a great and unscrupulous money power, but we appeal to the virtue and sound judgment of the people to sustain the position which we have taken.

7. We have abolished the statutory provision limiting the right of recovery for injuries causing death to five thousand

dollars. There is little or no attempt to defend the justness of this limitation. There seems no adequate reason for fixing a limit by statute upon damages to be recovered in case of death, while for an injury which does not produce death, they are unlimited. The control of courts over excessive verdicts furnishes ample protection in either case.

8. We have sought to throw greater safeguards around the elective franchise by prescribing a period of ninety instead of ten days of citizenship before that right can be exercised, so that naturalization may be taken out of the hands of campaign committees and removed from the period immediately before election.

We have found that in some cases upon the eve of an important election, a single judge has naturalized citizens at the rate of more than five hundred a day. Such a procedure, of course, precludes all inquiry into the qualifications of the applicant. It is degrading to citizenship and an injury to every citizen, whether native or foreign born. We think the simple provision which we propose will do much to prevent its recurrence.

We have also included institutions supported by private charity among those whose inmates do not acquire or lose a residence for the purpose of voting.

We have modified the language relating to elections so that if any mechanical device for recording and counting votes is so perfected as to be superior to the present system, the Legislature may make trial of it.

We have established in the Constitution the well-tried and satisfactory system of registration of votes, forbidding, however, any requirement of personal attendance on the first day of regis tration in the thinly settled regions outside of the cities and large villages, where voters would have long distances to travel to the place of registration. And we have provided for securing an honest and fair election by requiring that on all election boards election officers shall equally represent the two principal parties of the State.

9. We have provided for a new apportionment of Senate and Assembly districts, and for that purpose have fixed the number of the Senate at fifty and that of the Assembly at one hundred and fifty.

The number of Senators was fixed at thirty-two in 1801. With this number the Senate districts, as formed under the Constitution of 1846, were of reasonable and convenient size so that each Senator could come in contact with his constituents and readily represent them. In 1846, the only county in the State which had more than one Senator was New York, which had three.

In 1846 the citizen population of the State was 2,450,778, and in 1892 it was 5,790,865. In 1846 the ratio of population for a Senator was 76,586, and in 1892 it was fixed at 180,899.

In 1894 we have fixed the ratio at 115,817.

Since 1846 the great increase of population in the cities entitling them to additional representation in the Senate has required a corresponding decrease in the representation of the country districts, so that those districts have been constantly enlarged and their representation in the Senate has been constantly decreased. The object of the proposed increase is to restore the country districts to substantially the same relative position in which they were in 1846 and to provide for the increased representation of the cities by the increase in number so that there will be effective representation of the country as well as of the city districts.

The increase of the number of the Assembly was deemed necessary to maintain a due proportion between the members of the two houses, and to permit in the apportionment of members a more reasonable recognition of the great difference in population in the smaller counties of the State. Under the present apportionment St. Lawrence county, with 80,679 citizen inhabitants, has one member of Assembly, or the same representation accorded to Putnam county, with 13,325 citizen inhabitants. Such wide differences in representation are undesirable and unjust, and have been greatly reduced by the increase from 128 to 150, while the effectiveness of the body has not been impaired.

It is believed that the distribution, both of Senators and Assemblymen, by this arrangement, has been made with absolute fairness. In both cases they are distributed in exact accordance with population, so far as the maintenance of county lines permits, and no change in the distribution has been asked or suggested by any one.

Attack has been made upon two rules laid down in the proposed measures for the guidance of the Legislature in future apportionments. One of these is the rule that no county shall

have more than three Senators unless it shall have a full ratío for each Senator, although smaller counties may receive a Senator or an additional Senator on a major fraction of a ratio. The reasonableness of this rule is manifest when we consider that in the large counties which include many Senate districts the surplus population of all those districts is to be taken together as a whole in determining whether another Senator shall be awarded to that county, while the surplus population of the smaller counties is not taken together for that purpose, but considered separately. So that an equal number of Senate districts outside of a great city might have many times a surplus population which would entitle the city to another Senator and still receive no additional representation.

Even with this limitation the advantage is greatly on the side of the city as against the country districts, on account of their small territory and the fact that all their representatives stand for the entire city.

The other rule attacked is that no one county shall have more than one-third of all the Senators, and New York and Kings county together shall not have more than one-half of all the Senators.

We submit this to the people of the State without a doubt as to its propriety and fairness and in confident expectation of their approval.'

Before another Constitutional Convention presents its work to the people, it is probable that the cities of New York and Brooklyn or the greater city formed by their union will contain a majority of the inhabitants of the State. If the present system continues they will be able to elect the Governor, the State officers, a majority of the Senate and a majority of the Assembly. Both by force of numbers and by the multiplied power of compact organization and cohesion among the representatives from a single county responsible to a single local political organization, they will be able, absolutely, to control the government of the State. What will be the consequence of compelling the vast region extending from the city of New York to the St. Lawrence and to Lake Erie, with its varied interests, sentiments and opinions, not over well understood by the inhabitants of the city, to submit to such a domination? Would such an arrangement conduce to the permanent welfare of the State? Our

opinion is that it would not; and that the provision which secures to the whole State outside of the city a bare half of one house of the Legislature, leaving to the city such control as its numbers may give over the other house and over the executive department, is a slender enough safeguard against so unfortunate a result.

We believe the provision to be sound in principle; that somewhere in every representative government there should be a recognition of variety of interest and extent of territory, as well as of mere numbers united in interest and location.

Such a departure from the rule of strict numerical representation is recognized by the Constitution of the United States in the organization of the Senate, by the Constitution of the State of Pennsylvania in limiting the representation which the city of Philadelphia may have in its Senate, to one-sixth of its members, and by the Constitution of the State of Maryland, in limiting the representation which the city of Baltimore may have.

Similar provisions have been adopted by the State of Ohio affecting Cincinnati and Cleveland, the State of Missouri affecting St. Louis, the State of Rhode Island affecting Providence and by other States of the Union having large cities. It is the rule rather than the exception throughout the Union.

10. We have declared in the Constitution the principle of civil service reform; that appointments and promotions are to be based upon merit and ascertained, so far as practicable, by competitive examination.

We have sought by this to secure, not merely the advantage derived from declaring the principle, but the practical benefit of its extension to the State prisons, canals and other public works of the State and to which, under the existing Constitution, the court of last resort has decided that civil service rules cannot be applied.

11. In addition to the foregoing provision for the improvement of the State prison administration we have prohibited the contract system of convict labor. By these two provisions we have adopted, in full, the recommendations of the commissioners of the Prison association in their report of 1867, and declared a settled policy in accordance with the most enlightened views. of our time, with the belief that the application of these provis

« ПретходнаНастави »