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The Extra Session

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Si.-initol-s mid llcprcsentutiv'". In accordanco with the provisiolis of cint rosolütion No. 10, passed at your last sossion, I appoint S. M. Cutcheon, of Washteuaw county ; I. M. Crane, of Eaton county ; I. D. Crouse, of Livingston county ; John Divine, of Sanilac county ; T. B. Devereaux, of Houghton county ; W. M. Ferry, of Ottawa county ; E. W. üiddings, of Macomb county ; H. II. Ilatch, of Bay county ; D. H. Jeroiue, of Sagiuaw couuty; E. W. Meddaugh, of Wayne county ; S. C. Moffatt, of Leulauaw county; Ashley Pond, of Wayne ount ; H. H. Riloy, of St. Joseph county ; Chas. Upson, of Branch county ; H. G. Wells, of Kalaniazoo county ; E. Willitt, of Monroe county ; S. L. Withoy, of Kont county ; L. Woodward, of Oakland county, as a coramission to prepare such amondinents and revisión of tho constitution, as, in their judgment, niight bo necessary for the best intorests of tbc Stato and the pooplc. Tho coramission met at the Uapitol on tho 27th day of August last, and completed their labors on tho lCth day of Octobor, having been in sesaion thirty-ninR days. In tho appointniont of this commission I endeavored to select gentlemen representing, not only the varied interests of the State, but also the differont shades of opinión on public matters. It seems to bo tho import of tho resolution that the report of the commission be submitted to tho present Legislaturo ; and thore aro ruany good roasons why this should be done, which havo influenced mo in calling you together in special session. These are patent to any ono upon a moment's reflection, and need not be enumerated here. TUR WOEK OF THK r OMMISSIOX. Tho resolution undor which the couimission mot declares what is well stood by all, whose business or inclination bas callod upon thom to examine it. " The existiug constitution of the State of Michigan is defootive in many respecta, and neods to be amended to conform to the growth and developmentof the State, and the advanced ideas of the people." The work of the commission has uow been bot'oro the people since October last, and, it is but fair to presumo, has received candid and careful atteution. In calling you at this timo to considei their report, the proposed atncndments will be kept bofore the people until they shall have au opportunity tQ express their will upon thom at the ballot-box in November next, and cannot fail to have a more intelligent, fair and careful consideration than if the matter bo postponed by waiting for a regular session, until the general olectionin 1876, when the heat and partisan strifo of a Prosidential contest will assuredly provont questions of State interest, of howovor much importauce, from receiving the unprejudiced judgment of our citizens. f doubt uot that each one of you has airead y given the subject careful and earnest attention, and I hope your aotion as n body may bo such as will, appioved by tho pooplo, givo to the State a constitution that will be a chart without errors for every public officer, - a sure guarantee to evory citizen of bis individual rights, and by and undor which our State may contiuue its progrossivo march in tho developmeut of its material resources, and es tablish economy, prudenco, and fidelity ín the management of public affaire, as the organic law. I feel it hardly my provinco to express aa opion as to tho merits or deinerits oi tho amendments, or to make such suggestions or recommendations as would be expected upon usual matters of legislation ; yet I cannot rofrain from briefly alluding to sonie of tho proposition ol the Commission. FINANCE AND TAXATI03T. I doem first in importance the provisions pertaining to finance and taxation Sec. 1, Abt. X. No county, city, township, or other municipal Corporation shall bocome a stocklioldor in, or mako any loau or gift to, or lend its credit in aid of, anv person, private Corporation the owner of any railroad. The proviaious o this section shall not provent such municipalitie trom aiding enlistments and in the support o the families of soldiers in time of war ; or Bup portiug their poor in sucli manncr as may bo provided by law. Sec. 2, Art. X. Each organized county shall lo :i body corporate, with such powers and immuni ties as shall be (established) prescribed by law All suits and proceedings by or against a counti shall be in the immo thereof. The power o counties to levy taxes, borrow raoney and contract debts, shall bo restricted by law. Sec. 15, Art. X. No city or villago shall incur indebtedne8s, including that incurrcd by or on behalf of any school district within its corporate üiuits, so that its aggrogute debt at auy time shall exceed 10 per cont on tho valuation of lts taxable property, os shown by tho assessnicn roll. Sec. 5, Art. XIV. Every law hercafter enactec Ijy the Legislatura, creating a debt or authorizing a loan, shall provide a sinkiug fuud for the payment of the same. Sec. 9, Art. XIV. Tho State shall not aid, by gift, or plodge of its credit, any person or corporation, nor shall it subscribe to, or becomc interested in, tho stock of any Corporation, nor assurae any indebtedneas of a municipal oí other corporation. Tho provisions of this section shall no apply to cducattonal, charitablc, reformatory or penal institutions which are or may be under tlie caro and control of the State. These aro golden words, andmightwel bo engraved on stone and placed in tho walls of overy capítol in tho land. They say to ua, " Keep out of debt if possible but if you must mako a debt, let it be for a legitimato purpose ; rostrict it to your ability to pay, and próvido for its payment." Happily for us as aa a peoplo, we havo not been as wasteful &nd improvident in eontracting debts for schemes, whlch ought cither to bo paid out of current taxation, or not ganctioned at all, as many of our sister States have been. - Whilo our State debt is decreasing annually, every year sees the bonded indobtedness of our cities and towns increase. The policy for issuing bonds for municipal and local purposes is unwise, oxpensive, and leads to publio extravagance. The peoplo of a municipal ty in voting for the issue of a thousand-dollar ten per cent. bond for twenty years, forget that the moment tho moment tho bond is issued they have assumed .in obligation of 3,000. Thero is, of course, a olass of county, city, and township improvements that the future should perhaps help pay for. This, however, is ainply provided for by permitting an indebtedness equaling 10 per cent of the valuation. The adoptionof tho soveral provisions abovo enumerated in tho organic law of the State will forevor close the door against the schemea of kelfisb. speculators in paper railroads and other wild finanoial plans. Wo shall bo prudent in our public expenditures, out of debt and out of danger, and sot an example, as a State, worthy of imitation by oach citizen in his private business. Had tho spirit of these provisions boen tho rule of action in the management of private and public affairs, we should not have witnessod such a panic is that which so recently swopt over our rountry. LEOISLATIYE HEFOU MS. In no department of its labors havethe eominission shown moro wisdom tlian in the provisions of Sec. 22, Art. IV., restricting special legislation, confining the businüS3 of law-making within its proper bounds, and thoreby saving an incalculablo amount of public timo and inoney. Pully one-half of the time of each legislative session is consumed in enacting special laws for individuáis, localities and private interests that aro of no interest or necessity to tho goneral public. Special and !ocal acts receivo tess carctul consideration than those in which the public at largo are interestod, and thus much viuwiso and mischievous logislation iinds its way into our statuto books. General laws aro safor and botter in every case in which thoy can bo mado to accomplish tho desired end. Over governing is a growing evil that the?o rostric(ions would do much to cure. THE JCDICIAKY. The changos proposed in tho judiciary department, in Article VI., are radical. The propospd increase in the nutsber of the Supreme Court judges to üro would givo a permaneney and solidity to judicial decisions that an evenl y divided court cannot give, while the increase of business coming beforo tho court will soon require an additional judge. Believing that education is a nccessity to good solf-government, wo spend uiillions of dollars annually, to edúcate oursolves and thoso who ara to come aftor us, to make sure that our govornnient shall bo good ; and so long aa our people ure thus educated, just so long will they be fitted to elect their own judges. Ourexperience for the past twenty-five yoars with an electivo judiciavy is to iny mind nu abundant proof of this statement. In very many cases partisanship has boen sileut, and the people have united iu casting thcir suffrages for judges whom they kuew to bo upright and capable, regardloss of all other considerations. There can be no higher evidence of the fitness of an intelligont peoplo to select thoir o wn judges than this. I beliovo that whonover political powor is taken away from o people, theiv fitness to bo intrusted with power is decreased, and that whenover they aro called upon to perforra now duties, thoy are stimulated to fit thomselvoR to perform them intellieontly and well. THE 3ALARIKS. Tho couimission, in section 1 and Ü of Article IX., provide that iu lieu of the present salaries paid tho State oflicers and judges, they shall be fixed by the Legislature. That the salaries of soine of the Stato officers, and especially those of tho Circuit Jndges, demand a revisión, seems to bo generally conceded. Very many of our counties have, at different times, made appropriations to bo paid diroctly to the Circuit Judgo. Thero is no prac'■■ tice so reprehensible as this ; but the ne! cosaity of it has seemed so apparent that the impropriety and illegality of it has beon overlooked. I trust that by no action of youra or the people will our county authorities bo tempted in tüe tuture to mako these unconstitutional appropriaions. Sinco the lst of January, 1873, five of our Circuit Judges have rosigued, for ,he reasou that they could not pay their expenses and support their families with ;heir salary. Theso froquent changes in ;he judiciary, in the matter of expense alone, oost moro than a fair salary, while ;hey take away f rom our judicial system what should bo its leading characteria;ics, viz : pormanency and stability. Tha present constitution was adopted in 1850, - noarly a quarter of a century ago. Our only State institutions at that ;ime wore the State Prieon and the University. Tho receipts and disbursements of tho State Treasury were loss than $400,300 por annum, while to-day they are nearly $2,000,000. Alraost every State officor at that timo received in fees more than his salary. No monoy was paid the Stato by its treasurer for interest on deposit of State funda. To-day no State officer receives a single feo of any kind. From table " N." in the Auditor General's report for 1873, you will learn that the paymonts into the troasury of tho Stato for interest on public deposits, and fees from the State officers from 1854 to Septomber 30th, 1872, were $291,435 47, and the receipts from the same sources for the year closing September 30th, 1873, were $39,160 58. From 1838 to the year 1855 not a dollar was received from any of these sources. I fail to find in the ünancial reports of other States any such aggregate of roceipts as this, - in niany of them none at all, - from similar sources. I cali your attention to theso figures for, though often publishcd, I believo they are not often read. These facts show very plaiuly that what ever may have been the intention of tho frame of our present constitution, the groater portion of the State officers received in fees each year more than their salary. The practico of paying tho deputy State officers a greater salary than the principal would seem to indicate that it was expected that the deputies should do the work and the principáis draw the lees and wear the honora. The business of the Qdf uJmv Mjamxm _tr qur.h voluuie that his duty (if he does it personally and not by proxy), must give to it his entire time and attention. That they do not, is simply because some time and attention must be given to somo pursuit or occupation by which they can live. Ought we not in lieu of this pernicious system to say to our public oflicera : " Your salary shall be a reasonablo one ; you shall have such assistants as tho business of your office demands ; but we oxpect and demand of you, your personal attention and your individual care of the duties of your position." This is tho straight, plain, and economical way. I do not believe in high salaries for public ofiicers. A salary that will induce men to seek position tbr the sake of the salary would tend to deteriórate tho public service. It is not pleasant to reflect that the best men often cannot afford to serve the State, and that a private fortune must bo an indispensable condition in illling certain important public positions. This, too, will deteriórate the public service. Wo all havo au oarnest and commendable desire to procure economy in administra tion, and patterns of republican simplicity in public life; we can do this, not by parsimony nor by extravagauco, butbyoccupyingacommon ground of comtnon sense that lies between the two. I havo said that au educated, intelligent people are abundautly qualiflod to elect their own officers. I also believe thoy are willing to pay their public servan ts decently and fairly as they would do in private affairs. THE RAILROADS. Tho article on " Corporatious other thau Municipal" contains some new provisions, and makes changes in existing provisions, all of which 1 think are improvements. But I refer to this article not so tnuch for the purposo of calling your attention to what it contains, as for what it does not contain. Sec. 11 of this article is left to stand as in the present constitution. It is apparent that the solé and simple purpose of tho first paragraph of this section is to secure and preserve to the public, the beneüts which come from competition of railroads in tho carrying business ; there is no other thought or idea in it. And it is equally apparent that tho provisión, as it stands, will fail of this purpose. " Consolidation of stock" is only one of the modes by which " parallel or competing lines" may combine and become one in interest. A very common method of effecting the samo result is for one of the competing companies to lease the road of the other. Another is to acquiro the controlling interest in the stock of the competing company, and thus secure control of the road. There are also other dovices for securing the same result. If it be conceded that tho policy of advantages of competition in railroad transportation is wholesome and j ust, as I think it must be, then this provisión should be so altered and amended as, if possible, to accomplish this end. Upon reference to the proceedings of tho commission it will be seen that the section as reported by tho committeo on corporations reads as follows: " No railroad corporation shall consolídate its stock, property, or franchise with any other railroad corporation owniug a parallel or corapeting line ; and in no case shall auy consolidation take place, except upon public notice given, of at least lixty days, to all stockholders, in sueh manner as shall be provided by law." "Nor shall any such corporation lease any parallel or competing line of road, and 110 two or more parallel or compoting linos of raüroad shall be ruu or operated, directly or indirectly, wholly or in part, under tho same management or supervisión, or under or subject to any arrangement, agroement, or understanding with roference to rates of faro or freight to be charged, or for the división of earuings." If any attempt to preserve the advan tages of railroad competition is to be made at all in the constitution, it should bo broad enough to do it well. The issuo of stock, bonds and certificates of indobtedness by railroads, except for valuo recoived, ie alike au injury to the honost stockholder or creditor and to the people. The practico is wrong and is universally condemned in individuáis. - The State should, if possible, put it j yond the power of these beings which it i creates to practica it. I suggest the ; priety of requiring all corporations organ ized under the laws of this State to niaintain an office therein, where ita books shall be kept, showing the amount of capital stock subscribed and paid in, tho names of its stockholders and the amounts owned by each. Such books should bc kept in the State for the inspection of stockholders and for the benefit of creditors. lt frequently becomea tho duty of tho State to investígate the affairs of corporations within it, when such books are absolutely necessary ; indeed, the State is largely interested in requiring every taxpaying Corporation to keep and maintain within the Stato such books, not only, but in addition thoreto books showing fully its fínancial condition. This, togetUer with the other mattere referred to in connection with this article, I beg to commend to your most caroful consideration. Thoso suggestions aro made from no spirit of hostility to corporations. Every citizon of this State must appreciato the value of railroads in developing our natural resources and in promoting our prosperity. They can only be constructed and operatod in tho future, as in tho past, by means of corporate cxistenco. In all their rights and in their legitímate interests they deserve, and I have no doubt will receivo, as they heretoforo hare done, tho fostering caro and Írotoction of wholesomo laws. Unjust egislation against them would have the effect to cripplo their powers for usefulness, and this, in its effect, would reaoh and injure us all. The self-interest of tho people of the State is, therefore, alono sufficient to prevent such legislation. But, on the other hand, no unduo sensitivenoss should deter us from imposing upon them such restrictions and regulations as are demanded by the interests of the people, and of such a character as to furnish to tho corporations no just cause of complaint, and aro equally n protection for the corporators. There is no State in tho Union in which the rates of freight are lower than in this, nor in which the roads aro inanaged more direotly for the intorests of the people. Compotition is the ohief cause of this condition of thingn, while the fact that the managers of uiost of our roads are oui own citizensand interested in the prosperity and welfare of the State also, has much to do with it. The inoro roads wo have the more competition we shall have, and liberal legislation invites the building of roads and thus competition is kept up. Tho propositions above enumorated are proposed in this spirit of liberality, and should have a placo in the organic law as safeguards for the people, the roads and the stockholders. IN GENERAL. There aro many other provisions in tho report of the committoe that are important and worthy of mention, but I fear I have already trespassed upon your time and patience in what I have said. I do not forget that I have no voice in the building of the constitutional fabric, except through the ballot-box. My pride in our State, my hope that its legislation shall bo equal, just, pure, and wise, is the only excuse for the suggestions I have ventured to make. In con8idoring the question of remodoling the organic law of the State, I presume no one of you, or any citizen, expects you to adopt an instrument that will suit each individual mind. Sincere boliefs and decided opinions may often have to be given up, that tho greatest good to tho greatest number may be aecompïished. I trust that this is the spirit in which you have come togethor, and that from it you may créate a constitution that will meet the approval of your own judgment and that of tho people, whose representativos you are.


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