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IN THE YEAR 1869.
STATE OF NEW YORK, EXECUTIVE CHAMBER,
To the Assembly :
I return, without my signature, an act entitled "An act to authorize the Trustees of the First Presbyterian Church and Society of the Town of Perry to convey certain real estate," which was passed in the Assembly January 14, 1869, and in the Senate February 9, 1869.
No special legislation is necessary to attain the object of the bill. The Legislature, long ago, very wisely provided by a general law for such cases. It will be seen, by reference to that portion of our Revised Statutes which relates to religious corporations, that the Supreme Court may, upon application, make an order for the sale of any real estate belonging to such corporations, and direct the application of the moneys arising therefrom to such uses as the court may deem to be proper and for the interests of the society.
The wisdom of the Legislature in placing this power, by a general enactment, in the Supreme Court has never been doubted, and need not now be discussed. It may be convenient, in some instances, to obtain authority directly from the Legislature for the
sale of the property of a church; but it is always safer to refer the applicants to the court, the rules and regulations of which provide for proper and necessary inquiries into the merits of such application.
I am sorry to be compelled to interpose my veto in the case of a bill of so little apparent importance; but I have long deplored the fact that so many applications are made for special legislation in cases which are or should be covered by general laws. These applications press heavily upon the valuable time of public men, and add largely to the public expenses. They should be discountenanced and discouraged. General laws should be passed to meet, as far as possible, the requirements and wants of the people, and special legislation should always be refused in cases which are already covered by general enactments.
JOHN T. HOFFMAN.
ALBANY, February 17, 1869.
To the Assembly :
I return, without my signature, an act entitled "An act to amend section one of chapter 404 of the Laws of 1868, relative to building a bridge at Fort Covington."
The original act authorized the commissioners of highways of the town to borrow three thousand dollars to be expended in rebuilding a bridge across the Salmon river. The present bill increases the amount to four thousand dollars.
By a general act passed April 3, 1849, entitled "An act to vest in the board of supervisors certain legislative powers," &c., it was provided among other things that such boards in the several counties of the State (except New York) might authorize any
town in their respective counties to borrow any sum, not exceeding four thousand dollars in one year, to build or repair any roads or bridges in such town, and prescribe the time for the payment of the same, which time shall be within ten years, and for assessing the principal and interest thereof upon such town.
This general law renders any special legislation in regard to the bridge at Fort Covington wholly unnecessary. The subject properly belonged to the board of supervisors, which for such and certain other purposes is the county legislature.
In a message which I communicated to the Assembly on the 11th inst., in returning a bill without my signature, I called attention to the fact that applications for special legislation in cases covered by general laws pressed heavily upon the valuable time of public men, and increased largely the public expenses, and I suggested that special legislation should always be refused in cases covered by general enactments.
I feel it to be my duty to take every proper opportunity to urge these views upon the consideration of the Legislature, and to do all in my power to check an evil which has grown to be one of great magnitude.
JOHN T. HOFFMAN.
ALBANY, February 23, 1869.
To the Assembly:
I return, without my signature, a bill entitled " An act to provide for raising moneys for the payment of the improvements necessary to be made on the roads and bridges in the town of Ellicott, in the county of Chautauqua."
The first section of this bill is identical in language with section 4, article 1, title 1, chapter 16, part 1 of the Revised Statutes,
which is the general law defining the amount of money that the commissioners of highways in the several towns of the State may call upon the supervisors to cause to be levied in any one year for roads and bridges, except that by the general law the amount is limited to two hundred and fifty dollars, while by this bill it is increased to one thousand dollars in the town of Ellicott. It is simply a change in this one point of the general law, limiting the benefit of the change, if any, to one town in the State.
If this bill sought to provide for a temporary need of the town of Ellicott it would be unnecessary, because, under the provisions of another general law, viz., chapter 615 of the Laws of 1857, commissioners of highways may now cause to be raised seven hundred and fifty dollars in addition to the two hundred and fifty dollars above mentioned, if they obtain the consent of the town meeting to such increase.
The second section of the bill now under consideration provides that chapter 615 of the Laws of 1857 shall still be in force as to the town of Ellicott, so that the result of the bill, if it becomes a law, will be that the commissioners of highways in the town of Ellicott will hereafter exercise greater powers than those conferred on the same class of officers in other towns.
I have little doubt that, with the growing desire and need for improvements in our roads and bridges throughout the State, and especially in view of the large increase in the prices of labor and material which has taken place, the sums provided to be raised by the general laws referred to are, or soon will be, insufficient for the average ordinary expenditures of commissioners of highways in many towns in the State.
But I submit respectfully to the consideration of the Legislature, that the remedy is not to be found in special laws, relieving first one town and then another from the inconvenience, but
in an amendment to the existing general laws, so that any town in the State can take advantage of it when necessary. This amendment may be made (if in the judgment of the Legislature it is needed), either to the section of the Revised Statutes to which I have referred, or to chapter 615 of the Laws of 1857. In either case it would meet the object sought to be attained by this particular bill, and would also relieve the Legislature from the consideration of many special applications hereafter. I have already, in two instances, expressed to the Assembly my views in opposition to unnecessary special legislation, and I need not repeat them. I regret the necessity which compels me to make this communication, but I feel confident it will receive your approval.
JOHN T. HOFFMAN.
ALBANY, March 8, 1869.
To the Senate:
I return, without my signature, a bill entitled "An act to provide for filling vacancies in the office of Justice of the Peace in Lowville, Lewis County," which was passed by the Senate February 16, 1869, and in the Assembly February 24, 1869.
There are general laws (see Revised Statutes and chapter 476 of the Laws of 1859) providing for filling vacancies in the office of justice of the peace throughout the State.
If the general laws are defective the public interest demands that they be amended. The time of the Legislature should not be occupied, nor should the statute books be incumbered, with special acts providing for filling such vacancies in particular