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laws are those which relate to a single city, or to less than all the cities of a class. Special city laws shall not be passed except in conformity with the provisions of this section. After any bill for a special city law, relating to a city, has been passed by both branches of the legislature, the house in which it originated shall immediately transmit a certified copy thereof to the mayor of such city, and within fifteen days thereafter the mayor shall return such bill to the house from which it was sent, or if the session of the legislature at which such bill was passed has terminated, to the governor, with the mayor's certificate thereon, stating whether the city has or has not accepted the same. In every city of the first class, the mayor, and in every other city, the mayor and the legislative body thereof concurrently, shall act for such city as to such bill; but the legislature may provide for the concurrence of the legislative body in cities of the first class. The legislature shall provide for a public notice and opportunity for a public hearing concerning any such bill in every city to which it relates, before action thereon. Such a bill, if it relates to more than one city, shall be transmitted to the mayor of each city to which it relates, and shall not be deemed accepted unless accepted as herein provided, by every such city. Whenever any such bill is accepted as herein provided, it shall be subject, as are other bills, to the action of the governor. Whenever, during the session at which it. was passed, any such bill is returned without the acceptance of the city or cities to which it relates, or within such fifteen days is not returned, it may nevertheless again be passed by both branches of the legislature, and it shall then be subject as are other bills, to the action of the governor. In every special city law which has been accepted by the city or cities to which it relates, the title shall be followed by the words "accepted by the city," or "cities," as the case may be; in every such law which is passed without such acceptance, by the words "passed without the acceptance of the city," or "cities," as the case may be.]
§ 6. All elections of city officers, including supervisors and judicial officers of inferior local courts, elected in any city or part of a city, and of county officers elected [in the counties of New York and Kings, and] in all counties wholly within a city or whose boundaries are the same as those of a city, except to fill vacancies, shall be held on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday in November in an odd-numbered year, and the term of every such officer shall expire at the end of an odd-numbered year. [The terms of office of all such officers elected before the first day of January, eighteen hundred
and ninety-five, whose successors have not then been elected, which under existing laws would expire with an even-numbered year, or in an odd-numbered year and before the end thereof, are extended to and including the last day of December next following the time when such terms would otherwise expire; the terms of office of all such officers, which under existing laws would expire in an even-numbered year, and before the end thereof, are abridged so as to expire at the end of the preceding year.] This section shall not apply [to any city of the third class, or] to elections of any judicial officer, except judges and justices of inferior local courts.
§ 2. Resolved (if the Senate concur), that the foregoing amendment be referred to the legislature to be chosen at the next general election of senators and in conformity with section one of article fourteen of the constitution be published for three months previous to the time of such election.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE STATE
HE line of demarkation between the municipality and the commonwealth is being more clearly drawn to-day than ever before. The fact that the spheres of city and state are, and ought to be, separate and distinct is more generally recognized to-day than it has ever been. We are beginning to learn that the state government has problems of its own which should engage its entire attention and that cities can best transact municipal business without the assistance or the interference of the state.
Just as the states have reserved the right to transact their internal affairs without interference from the national government, so the cities are asserting the right to meet municipal problems without interference from the state. The powers that in the past have been yielded up to the state government by its cities are being reclaimed.
Municipalities are no longer willing to await the pleasure of a distant legislature before instituting changes which appeal to the head and heart of their citizens. Cities of every class have awakened to the necessity of regaining the privileges which they conceded to the state before the individual interests of the city and state grew so far apart.
With more than seventy per cent of New York's total population living in towns of more than 10,000 inhabitants, it is no wonder that the sentiment for home rule has crystallized into successful action.
The cost of municipal government bears more heavily on the citizen than the cost of state government. He is more personally affected by changes in the community in which he lives
1 Read at the meeting of the Academy of Political Science, November 20, 1914.
than by changes which affect the state as a whole. While the state protects him in his civil and political rights it is the municipality, in largest degree, which regulates his comfort and determines the conveniences and opportunities which make for his progress and prosperity.
The state therefore can well afford to give to its cities full power in purely municipal affairs. There are certain rights, however, which it cannot yield in our present form of government. Being charged with the duty of preserving the legal rights of its citizens, and being responsible for the public health and the public safety, the state cannot delegate to a municipality its powers in these matters.
In the local administration of a city government, the municipality is properly supreme. The men who administer municipal affairs are acquainted with the particular needs of their cities, they know what manner of administration is most acceptable to the majority of their fellow citizens, they understand local needs and local conditions. In any matter concerning the development of their city they are able to speak and act from personal information and accurate knowledge.
Every motive of expediency, therefore, as well as every principle of justice, demands that local matters should be under the sole jurisdiction of local authority, just as matters affecting the entire state should be under the sole jurisdiction of the state government.
There is more than a sentimental side to agitation for home rule, but that sentimental side demands consideration in a government which is expressly founded upon the highest ideals of equity and justice. Just as the thirteen colonies had the right to revolt from a distant government, when that government refused to consider the needs and the rights of the colonies, so the municipalities of a state may appeal to the same principles of justice in their unwillingness to accept the authority of a distant legislature, too much concerned with other matters to act with wisdom on municipal problems. Just as free men enjoying a liberty which permits them to make the most of their abilities and opportunities can climb to heights unscaled by their less fortunate brothers, so free cities endowed with the right to
work out their destinies without interference from any source may achieve a degree of progress and prosperity which cannot be secured in any other way.
New York has gone far to liberate its municipalities from the leading strings of the state government. It has awakened to the wisdom of permitting its cities to attain their fullest growth, their greatest measure of healthy development. It has recognized the injustice of compelling its cities to kneel before its legislature for the right to make necessary changes in the administration of municipal affairs.
Each year sees some new measure of freedom granted to the municipalities of New York; each decade sees the principle of home rule more firmly entrenched in New York's laws. The present year has witnessed the enactment of a law which marks distinct forward step in the emancipation of New York's cities. The optional city-charter law passed by the legislature last March is built upon the underlying principle of home rule. It frees municipalities from the necessity of applying to the legislature for desired changes in their charters and gives to every city of the second and third class the right to choose the sort of charter that the majority of its voters want, without appeal to any outside authority. There is no need for me to recount the details of this law.
The merits of the optional city-charter law should be expounded by the men who secured it rather than by the man who combined manifest duty and honest pleasure in signing it. But I may be permitted to say that the effect of the optional city-charter act will not only be to give a deserved measure of freedom to New York's municipalities, but will relieve New York's legislature of duties which are all the more onerous because they are undesired.
Under the optional city-charter act the municipalities of the state will at last be able to live under the precise form of municipal government which their citizens believe best fitted to their needs. They will be able to select a commission form of government or a city-manager type. And while this freedom of selection is not an absolute guarantee of good government, it does make possible the establishment of the only kind of gov