Governor Ben W. Olcott's Administration
Governor's Message, 1921
Source: Message of Ben W. Olcott Governor of Oregon to the Thirty-First Legislative Assembly Regular Session Convened January 10 1921
Members of the Legislature:
Grave responsibilities rest upon this Thirty-first Oregon Legislative Assembly. I feel gratified that in addressing you I am addressing a body of men that will take into serious and full account the gravity of these responsibilities, that will meet them with only the best welfare of the state at heart, and that will apply themselves to their tasks with a patriotism, a vigor and an earnestness which will mean nothing but a better, a happier and a more prosperous condition of our people.
Under our constitution the governor shall give to the legislative assembly information touching upon the condition of the state, and recommend such measures as he shall judge to be expedient.
We have been passing through an era of great prosperity which has reflected itself generally throughout the state. More recently has come a decline in prices, touching some of our leading products and many look ahead to the coming biennium with none too optimistic a view. I would not be one to assist in the creation of a psychological panic, nor, on the other hand, would I advise that business be transacted with a feeling that the conditions which have existed during the past few years are to be with us always.
It is our duty to gravely weigh these conditions; to use such vision and prophetic power as we may have been endowed with by our Creator, and in our solemn acts of legislation reflect well upon the possible contingencies as well as upon conditions as they now confront us. I think I speak the common mind when I say that our era of high prices is passing; that I feel there may still be a greater slump in business; that employment conditions may be less satisfactory; that there are possibilities of industrial decline and a smaller return for our agricultural and horticultural products, and for the products of our forests and streams. We trust that prosperity will remain, that each of our citizens will have his full and fair share of it, but I believe we should look ahead to other possibilities and attempt to adjust our acts on the basis of such contingencies.
With faith in the sound, hard-headed business sense of the American people, I must say I look to the future with the utmost confidence. I believe that business, which is now going through a reconstruction period, will soon readjust itself and the prosperity of this state will continue to flow to its citizens. But this is a time when we should studiously avoid enacting legislation which might tend to unsettle rather than stabilize industry.
The people of the state by their ballots have increased the cost of state government largely in excess of that allowed in the six percent limitation amendment. Measures adopted by the people at the special election last May carried heavy tax provisions and the expenses of these must be met. Burdens of taxation, already heavy, have been augmented to a great degree but it removes none of our responsibilities in seeing that our institutions and necessary adjuncts of state government continue to operate efficiently and well.
You, as legislators, by the practice of economy in your appropriations, by a careful scanning of items for those that are unnecessary and unwise, may very materially help the situation. The executive and administrative arms of government must fulfill their responsibilities to the people, after you have made appropriations for them, by a sound and economical administration of affairs, based upon efficient management and judicious expenditure. I for one wish to assure you that it will be the aim of the executive department to ever keep foremost the thought that state business must be conducted on a business basis and under strict business management.
With a thought of possible assistance to you I have asked a committee composed of persons well versed in the subject to ascertain possible sources of additional revenues from indirect taxation.. The direct tax against real property and improvements I understand furnishes about seventy-five percent of our state revenue and it is proper and right that those who can afford to pay their just share of governmental expenses, but are not now compelled to do so, should be assessed in a fair measure for that purpose. The findings of the committee which I have mentioned will be available to members of the legislature at all times for such assistance as it may give them in their efforts.
Oregon, being essentially an agricultural state, I bespeak your consideration and help in ascertaining ways and means to bring products of the farm closer to the consumer. Some well devised move of this sort would be of vast benefit both to the people on our farms and to the population of the cities. While the people rejected the state market commission bill, I do not consider that as a repudiation of the idea that there should be a more direct means of disposing of the products of the farm, and legislation tending to curb excessive profits in between the producer and consumer will be a decided boon to mankind.
I need not mention to you that it is a well defined legislative interpretation in this state that the six percent limitation amendment mean not only that no greater tax levy shall e made from year to year by the tax levying body than an increase of six percent over the preceding year, but it means as well that the legislature shall confine its appropriations within the available revenues. I shall deem it my constitutional duty as the executive to disapprove any items that may be in excess of the six percent limitation. While I feel assured that no member of your boy would take any other view of the amendment than the interpretation that has been given it by all legislatures, still I feel I would be remiss if I, as well, did not state my position in that regard so that it may be clearly understood at the outset of the session.
Our Budget System
Perhaps one of the gravest responsibilities is to deal with the financial system of our commonwealth. I have long believed that the basis of an economical administration of state affairs in the budget system. We have had such a system in operation in this state since 1915, with splendid results. But there are weaknesses in the system which I desire to call to your attention, and also, in turn, to present what I consider a remedy.
Our budget is prepared on the following basis: The head of each department, institution of state activity estimates his needs for the coming year and, except in the care of state institutions coming under the board of control, submits these estimates directly to the secretary of state. He, in turn, compiles them in budget form for submission to the legislature. The secretary of state has nothing to so with these estimates save to act in a purely ministerial capacity and do the mechanical work of compiling. Estimates covering the state institutions are submitted to the board of control by the various institution heads, and before such estimates finally pass into the hands of the secretary of state for inclusion in the budget, they are carefully gone over by the board, and altered or changed as deemed necessary and wise.
I believe all estimates should be passes upon y some responsible body before they are presented to the legislature and its ways and means committee for their consideration. This body should have such an intimate knowledge of the need of the state that it could prune estimates down to essentials, and this enable the legislature at the outset to take stock of its finances and determine to what extent appropriations may be made to cover them, as the final responsibility, of course, got the appropriation of the people’s money rests upon the legislature.
Under present conditions there is no central body responsible for the budget estimated, leaving each department and branch of the state government to make such estimates and claims upon the state’s finances as they see fit. I recommend that the state board of control be made responsible for all budget estimates, and that each department and branch of the government be required to submit their estimate to this board a sufficient time in advance of the biennial session of the legislature to permit a full examination of all claims. The board of control should be given authority to consider and prune these estimates at it deems necessary for the best interests of the state. After the board had passed upon the estimates they should be files with the secretary of state for compilation in budget form for presentation to your body. This change in the budget system would give to the legislature the benefit of the judgment of the members of the board of control, who by experience are familiar with the needs of the state. This would necessarily place a heavy additional burden upon the members of this board, and ample provision should be made for providing the board with necessary expert and clerical help to give this matter the close attention which its importance would warrant. Our budget would then be a budget in substance as well as in name and I am convinced that the results attained from this plan would more than justify any expense that may be connected with it.
Our financial affairs should be subjected to the closest scrutiny. Every just demand should be met as far as it is possible to do so. Every unjust and unnecessary demand should be eliminated. I submit this to you for careful thought. Expenses of state government are growing rapidly. Expenditures should be placed upon the soundest business basis it is possible to attain and no more firm nor sure foundation can be found for the business structure than a budget carefully prepared under some responsible guiding head.
The first charge upon the public finances should be the care of those unfortunate wards of the state, who through some mental or other defect are restrained against their will. While continually confronted with the growth of the state and the consequent increases in the number of such wards, Oregon has liberally supplied wards for such institutions in the past and I have no fear that the legislature now convening will do other than extend to our institutions all financial support within its means. Realizing that the six per cent limitation amendment still confronts us, the board of control in passing upon budgets for these institutions has carefully eliminated everything that it deems unnecessary and unessential.
Our first wish is for ample maintenance so that the unfortunates may be properly fed and clothed, given proper medical attention and all of the necessities required to make them as happy and comfortable as possible under the conditions into which circumstances have forced them.
I would urge that these men, women and children be made your first care above all other considerations in the expenditure of public funds and I will guarantee for the board of control and the institutional heads careful and conservative expenditure of these funds.
There has been some talk of the erection of an additional Capitol building. I appreciate to the fullest extent the crowded and cramped quarters in which our departments are housed, and the handicaps under which they suffer because of such crowding, and every consistent effort should be made to alleviate such conditions. But while we are attempting to care for youthful offenders in a training school, the physical plant of which does not reflect credit to the state; while the institution for the feeble-minded and the state hospitals for the insane are crowded to capacity, and while other institutions are suffering for want of room, I am of the opinion first consideration should be given to these institutions.
Boys’ Training School
The boys’ training school I consider one of the most important of all of the institutions coming under state support. Here is laid the foundation for present reform of future criminals and present conditions show us the economic fallacy of leaving undone any step which may result in turning the youthful offender into a good citizen. The physical plant at the training school is hopelessly obsolete. The building is antiquated, the plan of the institution is medieval, and the name of “training school” attached to it is without apology. With the exception of a few successful, but limited attempts to provide some vocational training for the boys, nothing is done to prepare them to battle with life by the use of their hands in an honest trade. Academic instruction is given, it is true, and to a measure in a satisfactory degree but the instruction received is but poor material upon which to remodel a life started under such unfortuitous circumstances and such impractical environment.
The percentage of criminals in our penitentiary who graduated from reform schools is so startingly high as to leave the inference that perhaps, rather than reforming, these schools breed criminals. Such a school presents all of the aspects of an economic waste. If we send these boys into the world from the training school, only to receive them back into the penitentiary, the state’s burden merely continues and grows from year to year. Aside from any humanitarian standpoint, aside from the social fallacy which permits these boys to become criminals when a large percentage of them at least might be reclaimed, it is a sheer financial extravagance to herd these boys into a cavernous, gloomy institution, practically as devoid of hope as the structure is of sunlight, there to let crime breed and fester and develop.
I feel that one of the gravest responsibilities that rests upon this legislature; that rests upon the people of the state; that rests upon every man and every woman of us wherein any responsibility at all might lie, is in the future of these one hundred and forty odd little souls confined in that institution and the thousands of other little souls who will succeed them there as the years pass on.
I will not attempt to outline in detail here what steps should be taken to remedy the situation. They have been outlined before and the last legislature provided for an inspection of the school with the idea in view of securing recommendations as to an entire revolution in the scheme of handling and in the physical plant of the institution. I will pass that phase by saying that now we make scant provision for vocational training for these boys; we make no attempt at segregation; but superficial provision is made for gathering data as to the history of individual cases, and as the physical plant stands today the incorrigibles and those for whom there is a chance become as one under the millstone that is grinding them down, and where one actual criminal enters the institution, more leave it.
I believe the state should rehabilitate its training school and give to the thousands of homeless or worse than homeless boys who will sooner or later become unwilling inmates there a school that will be a school indeed. It should be a school which would produce honest, self-reliant citizens, rather than hardened and hard-boiled criminals, and a school which instead of being reared on the foundations of false economy and false pretenses, would be reared on the solid foundation stones of the right kind of environment and education for development of the minds, the hands and the hearts of its inmates.
It is a pleasure to call your attention to the condition of the Oregon State Penitentiary which I believe to be equal to any time in its history, both as to the physical appearance of the plant and the morale of the men. This is a condition that exists regardless of the fact that but few appropriations have been made for betterments and repairs at the institution during the past several years, due to the fact that on two occasions the electorate were asked to pass upon the question of an appropriation for a new penitentiary and until such decisions were passed the current legislative assemblies doubted the wisdom of expending much money in betterments or repairs on the old plant. Through the initiative of Dr. R.E. Lee Steiner, temporarily acting as warden, as his successor, L.H. Compton, the present warden, vast improvements have been made at the place, largely through betterment funds derived from work at the institution itself. I will be pleased to have the members of the legislature investigate the institution and ascertain what has been done there.
It is deemed essential, and the part of wisdom, to establish an industry at the plant which will keep the men from being idle, which will do away with the necessity of appropriating money for the maintenance of such men as may be employed therein, and which, at the same time, will not complete with outside labor and which, as a deeply important consideration, will allow money to be earned by the men themselves to assist in the support of their wives and children who often become a charge on public charity or the philanthropy of their friends.
After due consideration recommendation is made that an appropriation be provided for the initial investment in a box factory at the prison. Lumbermen engaged in the manufacture of boxes have expressed their sympathy with the movement. It is a well known fact that the supply of boxes is inadequate to meet the demands of our enormous fruit industry and these may be manufactured at a minimum expense and the maximum of profit for the institution, and at the same time be sold at a reasonable cost to the consumer. This plan would seem to offer a happy solution of the prison employment problem without coming in unfair competition with free labor. It is believed sound sense that whatever industry is established should be an industry drawing upon a native raw material and not necessitating shipments of raw materials from abroad or from another state, at a heavy first cost, and with high freight charges. A modest equipment should furnish employment the year around for at least one hundred inmates of the institution, and the balance could be provided employment in other lines largely available now.
The plan is to entirely eliminate waste by delivering the raw logs inside of the prison walls, there to be cut into box shooks, and such other products as found feasible, such as chair rounds and numerous other small articles, essential to institutional work. The slab wood would be used as fuel by the institutions themselves, with the result there would be no waste.
I am advised by those closely in touch with prison management that such a plant could be operated in a manner which would require the employed prisoner to first earn a sufficient amount of pay for his own maintenance cost to the state and that over and above this amount certain sums, the product of his labor, could be set aside monthly or weekly to be disbursed in the support of his dependents.
Such a plan would largely, if not completely, solve the year around problem of idleness at the penitentiary; it would give the man himself something to work for in a gainful occupation, and in addition would remove from the rolls of public charity the names of hundred of innocents, who are victims of a misstep made by their husband and father. These latter are the people who pay the heavy penalty for man’s misdeeds. Seldom, if ever, does the man himself suffer comparable to the sufferings of the women and children who must move and live in society at large, ostracized because of their loved one’s anti-social tendencies, and further suffering under the stigma of having to depend upon public funds or private charity for support.
This legislature has an opportunity to take a great forward step by the expenditure of no great sum of money and I strongly request that you give most sympathetic consideration to this proposal as it will be further outlined to you by those in touch with the prison management.
Prison Flax Plant
We still have the flax plant at the prison in operation. As an industry it does not fit prison needs because it gives employment at only certain times of the year and then to only a limited number of men.
I desire to report to you that, after due and careful consideration, it was decided that to further allow convicts in the flax fields for the purpose of pulling flax was economically unsound. As a result, during the 1920 flax season, it was insisted that the flax growers provide for the pulling of flax by free labor. This was done with a great degree of success and a minimum of complaint, both from growers and pullers.
The state has largely done its duty in regard to the flax industry. It has demonstrated beyond a doubt that flax may be grown here successfully. The time has come to place flax on the basis of every other agricultural product. The wheat grower, the prune raiser, and the numerous other men engaged in agricultural pursuits receive and ask for no subsidy from the state. They are required to employ their own harvest hands and meet their own labor problems without the assistance of convict labor. I am convinced that the place for convicted men is inside the walls of the penitentiary, so far as they may be kept there, and working them on the outside, save where it is absolutely necessary, is fallacious in principle and demoralizing in practice.
I would continue the operation of the prison flax plant to handle the crop on the inside of the walls, but would do so only until such time as there has become established and in actual operation a privately owned plant of sufficient magnitude and soundness to give assurance that all of the flax crop will be taken care of through that medium. When such time comes I believe the prison flax plant should be discontinued and the state realized as much as it may from the sale of the plant I suggest that this legislature authorize the board of control to take such steps at any time such a plant is actually in working operation and ready to handle the crop. My reason for this is based upon the belief that those who would be willing to finance a new private venture may be standing aloof, unwilling to come in and compete against a state plant. If it were written upon the statute books that whenever private capital shows its good faith toward the industry that the state retire from it, an impetus would be given to private capital to develop the industry here on a large scale. It is important that we enact laws for the encouragement of private investments, and I believe such a law, granting this discretionary power to the board of control, might have a highly salutary effect on bringing a material amount of new capital into Oregon.
Prison Wood Camp
In conjunction with the statement that wherever possible convicts at the penitentiary should remain within prison walls, I wish to call your attention to what has been done at the prison wood camp. Several years ago the board of control entered into a contract for the cutting of a large acreage of stumpage to furnish fuel for the state institutions, and to carry out this delayed contract the present wood camp was established near Aumsville in November, 1919. Previously a camp had been conducted in another location. On the recommendation of the then warden, Dr. Steiner, a paroled man was placed in full charge of the camp. Up to now approximately 4,500 cords of wood have been cut at the Aumsville camp, at a nominal cost to the state, the men being paid 50 cents a cord for the wood they cut, this being paid them upon their leaving the institution. An average of about twenty-five men have been employed daily at the camp. Only five of them have escaped during the entire time, and of these all but one have been recaptured and returned to the institution. There have been no guards over the camp aside from foreman, the paroled man in question.
Despite this splendid record I believe this situation could be improved if the legislature would allow the employment of paroled men entirely on this work, with no convicts from the inside of the walls allowed there. Now, when a man leaves the institution, unless he has had an opportunity to earn a little money as a prisoner, or had funds when received, he leaves the prison with five dollars and a suit of clothes. If he could be given an opportunity to work at the wood camp for a time at a reasonable wage, until he had earned sufficient money to make him somewhat self-reliant, his opportunities for returning to good citizenship on the outside would be vastly improved; the possibilities of his again committing crime be vastly lessened; the necessity for allowing convicts outside of the prison walls be that much diminished, and the expense to the state in securing the wood not very greatly increased.
While touching upon the fallacy in our laws which places men behind prison bars without proper occupation to prevent their own idleness or to provide support for their families, I wish to lay particular stress upon our law which provides for the conviction of a man of a felony for failure to support his wife and children. I would not condone such an offense in the least. But the state spends thousands of dollars a year bringing these men back for prosecution and places many of them in the penitentiary. That is well and good as far as it goes. But the wrong is not remedied. The law, while intended as a deterrent, works as a punitive measure only. The man is embittered behind prison walls; the wife and children secure no more support than before the prosecution, save the pittance from public charity awarded by the mothers’ pension act, and when the prisoner is discharged he is so bitter against those who sent him to the penitentiary that the wife is again abandoned and the children pauperized, because the man feels he has paid his penalty and refuses to give assistance further.
I would believe in the law which prosecutes such a man because no man should attempt to evade the responsibilities he has brought on himself when he enters wedlock and brings defenseless children into the world—providing that law compels him to actually do something for their support of his conviction and sentence. This may be accomplished through the installation of a proper industry at the prison, and the conditions to which I have just alluded give one of the strongest arguments in favor of the installation of the box factory at the penitentiary as previously recommended in this message.
Care of the Blind
At the special election last May provision was made for the creation of a school for the adult blind in Portland. Apparent weaknesses in the law have brought a ruling from the attorney general that the millage funds provided for under this act do not become available until 1922, and, in addition, the act is so loosely drawn as to leave several of its provisions ambiguous and in need of amendment for more certainty in interpretation, particularly as to the extent of the powers and duties of the board of control. Proper amendments might be made to provide for the early functioning of this conceived institution.
While upon the subject of the blind I respectfully direct your attention to the possible necessity of developing more highly the vocational side of the training at the present blind school. The object of the school, as I understand it, is to give a chance to these afflicted children to become self-supporting citizens, regardless of the handicap under which they suffer. This is done to a certain extent, but I believe it may be amplified by installation of additional means for vocational training which will give them larger and more diversified fields for the exercise of their developed talents.
While perhaps it is not pertinent here, nevertheless I wish to say that people of the state who are interested in the progress of the blind are working toward the end of devising means for group employment of the blind in connection with some of our industries. It is a move which has worked successfully elsewhere and no doubt will here. Coordination of that work with the vocational instruction in our blind schools, both in the present institution and the one to be constructed for the adult blind, will have a far-reaching effect in the solution of this problem. The war, with its trail of permanently blinded heroes, has opened up many new methods for the rehabilitation of the blind which have been used with surprisingly successful results.
It is with a great degree of satisfaction that I am able to report that very few if any of these high-minded blind students ever seek for the bread of charity after leaving the institution. Though most of us could conceive of no worse fate than to be deprived of our sight and set upon our own resources and initiative with the world dark to our eyes and the sunlight and shadow shut away from us forever, these boys and girls turn bravely to their allotted tasks, work them out cheerfully, and provide the means for their own sustenance as competent citizens. Their work should be an inspiration of the most exalted kind. To give them every assistance toward making their difficult road through life easy should be a rare privilege for each of us.
Our two state hospitals at Salem and Pendleton have functioned splendidly under admirable management during the past biennium. Of all of the wards of the state, the unfortunates confined in these institutions because of mental disorders are worthy of having their existence made as comfortable as possible. In your careful distribution of the funds which are at your disposal I am certain that you will be as magnanimous and liberal as possible to these institutions. They have been operating on a sound basis, both financially and in the larger sense for which they were intended, the proper care and treatment of the insane. The state is fortunate in being ale to secure the services of such high-class men as those who form the heads and staffs of these two institutions, and the recommendations which they make to you in regard to the care and management of them are worthy of every favorable consideration you find yourselves able to give.
One important work which has heretofore been neglected in this state is that of keeping a watchful eye on and giving assistance to the insane after they leave our state hospitals. The prison has its parole officer to be an aid to the paroled man but no such function exists for the state hospitals.
It would be an act of great humanity and of splendid business sense to authorize the superintendents of the state hospitals to designate persons for that purpose. The insane are discharged, presumably cured, but often without friends to aid them in securing employment or to help them in any way. The state which confines them for a period of time and breaks off their relations with the world should aid them to find their proper place again when the hospital doors open to release them from restraint.
Aiding Escapes from State Institutions
We have upon our statute books an act making it a criminal offense for any person to aid or abet in the escape or attempt to escape of any convict in the state penitentiary. This act should be broadened in its effect, or parallel statutes should be enacted, making it a similar offense for any person to aid in the escape of any one confined in the boys’ training school, the girls’ industrial school, either of the state hospitals for the insane or from the institution for the feeble-minded. Such a law or laws would be of great benefit to the institutions and would be for the protection and promotion of the welfare of institutional inmates as well as for the protection and benefit of society at large.
Eleemosynary institutions which care for indignent, homeless or orphan children and which receive aid from the state seem to have been functioning well during the past biennium. A noble work is being done by such institutions and without state aid it would be difficult for them to thrive, and, in fact, many of them would probably be compelled to desist from their philanthropic activities. It is a healthy sign when the public conscience takes cognizance of these little waifs who are turned adrift to float hopelessly upon the sea of humanity unless rescued by the powerful arm of society. I know you will continue to give these the material support necessary for their sustenance and proper development.
I have entered into detail in regard to some of the state institutions wherein conditions existed to which I wished to call your more especial attention. The Girls’ Industrial School, the State School for the Deaf, the Oregon State Tuberculosis Hospital and the State Institution for the Feeble-Minded all have been continuing their work during the past biennium for the purposes for which they were intended in a mannder to meet with the approval of the board of control. I have no need to tell you that each of these institutions is carrying out a highly deserving work; that each one is entitled to your time and careful thought in the consideration of their needs and that none should be slighted in granting the funds necessary for the continuation of their highly beneficial work during the next two years.
The use of motor vehicles has grown to such tremendous proportions, that not only our city streets, but our state and county highways frequently are congested with traffic and danger to life and limb becomes greater daily.
Laws never can wholly eliminate this danger. But they may become effective to a large degree in saving the lives, limbs and property of our citizens and very earnest consideration should be given to any and all suggestions which may be offered in the way of traffic regulation. Many will be offered; many will be untenable and undesirable, but none should be passed over without careful thought. If measures of any kind may be adopted which will result in the saving of one human life, or the saving of one individual from being maimed and mangled, they should be accepted gladly and readily.
I am informed that there is a concerted movement on foot for the adoption of uniform traffic laws throughout the states. To this end the secretaries of states of Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon recently met and formulated a code of traffic regulations, with the purpose of urging its adoption in their respective states. The intention of this action is to secure the greatest possible convenience to the motorist, so that in moving from one state to another state he may not be required to conform to a different code of laws prescribing and restricting his activities. If we are to take a step in the line of uniformity in this direction we must cooperate with these states to the fullest extent, else we shall fail in any such effort.
The matter of traffic regulation is one of immense and growing proportions. Its possibilities are so great as to forbid any detailed recommendations in this message but I am confident that you will give the careful consideration to the subject which it deserves.
How to meet the Japanese situation in this state is one that will come before this legislative assembly for consideration and possible determination
As in other Pacific coast states murmurings have long been heard in Oregon that the Japanese, an alien race of differing ideals and aspirations from our own, are gradually acquiring a tenacious foothold within the confines of the state, and that unless their progress is curbed they will become yearly more and more of a menace to our institutions. This is a question too widely discussed and upon which our people have too well formed ideas to evade the issue.
Realizing the importance of the subject and the magnitude to which it has grown in the minds of the people, I caused an investigation of the situation to be made personally, by the Hon. Frank Davey, a member of your honorable body and a capable, conscientious and honest investigator. He went into the subject with open mind and for the purpose of securing a fair and impartial statement of the Japanese situation as it exists in those localities of the state where the Japanese problem is uppermost. Mr. Davey has compiled a report giving ideas and expressions as gathered from various citizens in the communities which he visited and also covering generally data as to the progress of that race in Oregon, industrially and otherwise. Copies of this report will be submitted to each of you for your information.
In my opinion steps should be taken by means of proper legislation to curb the growth of the Japanese colonies in Oregon; to preserve our lands and our resources for the people of our own race and nationality. I believe the ultimatum should be issues that it is the sense of the people of Oregon, speaking through their representatives, that this state is a state with a government of Americans, by Americans and for Americans and that Americanism is the predominant asset of its citizenry.
Here in Oregon the pioneer blood flows more purely and in a more nearly undiluted stream than in any other state of the Union. As a precious heritage, passed down to use from those heroic fathers who braved the perils and the trials and tribulations of pioneer days, it should be preserved unsullied as they gave it to us. I believe in that pioneer blood. I believe that when the little band of men voted at Champoeg that the soil of this state should come under the dominion of the American flag that they intended that whosoever should come to Oregon should come as Americans, or should be of such a race that they could be assimilated into a nation which believes in the traditions and ideals for which we have fought.
The Japanese are a race high in culture. They have made remarkable progress since Commodore Perry, an American, first opened to them the door which showed them the dawning rays of a western civilization. They are a courteous people, a high-minded people, a people of education and of progress. But they are not our people. We cannot assimilate them and they cannot assimilate us. Oil and water will not mix. I would live in peace and amity and concord with them, but it would be a peace and amity and concord which extended the hand of friendship across the sea. So long as Japanese and American attempt to till their acreage side by side, so long will there be enmity and distrust. Centuries of history have shown us that Mongol and Caucasian must each work out his destiny alone.
There should be peace between the two nations, but conditions as they now exist can serve no other purpose than to finally lead these two nations to the brink of serious eventualities. I believe the Japanese should work out his destiny in Asia, in the continent which God allotted him, and under God we should work out our own destiny on the American continent.
This may be the most momentous question to consume the time of your deliberations. Whatever you do with it, I know you will act fairly and justly. That you will act with the highest idea ever before you that first, last and always we are American citizens and that what is to be done will be done with the firm resolve to preserve this state as foremost in its loyal allegiance to the flag which we all revere.
Under our constitution it is the duty of the executive to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. A modest appropriation was made by the last legislatures for the payment of expenses of special agents employed by the governor in law enforcement work. Emergencies required that this be materially enhanced through the emergency board. When activities of radicals were rampant, this office, at the request of some leading citizens, conducted thorough investigations of those activities and cooperated to the fullest possible extent. Other extraordinary situations made a drain upon the funds, including an investigation of the state treasurer’s affairs made under the direction of the attorney general and the grand jury.
The larger share of the funds were expended in enforcement of the prohibition law. This office had investigations made in every county of the state, and in addition thereto investigated, either through its agents or through the proper law enforcing officers of the various counties, every complaint made to it. In this connection I wish to say that I have found the district attorneys and sheriffs of the various counties ready to respond and cooperate for the advancement of law enforcement. It must be understood that sheriffs very frequently labor under a heavy handicap, particularly in the enforcement of the prohibitions laws, as they are well known in every community of their respective counties, and their appearance is a signal for discontinuance of operations. We have endeavored to answer appeals for assistance from sheriffs where we could.
The executive office is asking for an appropriation of $10,000 for the biennium in the continuation of the employment of special agents.
To give greater latitude in this work, however, I ask that the laws be amended so that all of the fines collected for violations of the prohibition law be placed in the county funds as a special fund for the prosecution of law enforcement work, to be paid out on the approval of the district attorney and to be expended at his direction. This would provide district attorneys with a fund whereby they could collect evidence in prohibition cases and employ special agents at their discretion. It would be an added incentive to the agents to carry on their work successfully, as the greater the number of convictions the longer the work could continue. Some such plan as I have suggested I believe the only equitable adjustment for the financing of this work, and at the same time will be the only successful way in which sufficient funds may be raised to stamp out illicit manufacture and sale of liquor.
The problem has become much greater since the national prohibition act went into effect. Before that time our main problem was to capture and convict bootleggers who secured supplies of whiskey from other states. As the source of bonded supply dwindles the army of bootleggers becomes greater, and our principal problem now is to deal with the moonshiner and his emissaries who dispose of his wares. Their name is becoming legion and the federal government cannot do the work alone.
I would be opposed to any alteration of the prohibition laws which would make them less effective. If they can be amended so as to bring about better enforcement results I will welcome such changes and be glad to give them my hearty approval.
Roads and Highways
Under the direction of an able and self-sacrificing highway commission our immense road program has advanced during the past two years steadily toward the desired goal. The people have spoken in no uncertain terms as to their desire for good roads. The Oregon plan for financing road building through bonds, the interest and maturity of which are paid off thought the revenue derived from motor vehicle licenses and the gasoline tax, has so far more than justified itself, inasmuch as returns from such licenses are in excess even of the estimates of the most ardent advocates of the plan.
The path of the highway commission by no means has been altogether as smooth as the roads which it is laying. Prices for materials have been high; freight rates increasingly; labor conditions far from satisfactory as far as road building is concerned; contractors hesitant because of fluctuating prices on commodities and labor, and numerous other difficulties have arisen to make progress difficult. Gilt edge Oregon bonds have sold below par because of an abnormal condition of the bond market. Yet, under a heavy demand from all classes of people, as amply indicated by the vote at the special election last May, those who are paying the bills desire roads and more roads as rapidly as they can be constructed. The commission has gone ahead with the work against heavy odds, and while no one connected with the administration of the commission’s affairs attempts to deny there has been some waste, possibly some extravagance, some excessive costs, nevertheless I believe the work has been done as expeditiously and as economically as human wisdom would allow under the abnormal conditions and times confronting the state and nation and taking into consideration insistent demands by those furnishing the money that the roads be forthcoming. We must also bear in mind that, as long as human nature is as it is, as long as minds are constructed along different lines and track in different grooves, there will be disagreements over highway projects and highway work, as there are disagreements over every other subject under the sin. These disagreements many times seem large to us, because we are dealing with a large subject, uppermost in the minds of the people. To five to the greatest number the best that we can; to five as nearly a dollar's worth of road for a dollar’s worth of money as human ingenuity and human limitations will allow, and to furnish as durable and as satisfactory a system as perishable materials will permit must be our first duty and object. I am confident that such is the aim of our highway commission, and I am equally confident that legislature wishes to see nothing else done. I am equally confident we will have your active and hearty cooperation in bringing about such realities.
More funs through bond issues will be needed by the commission and the people have authorized you to grant such finds. The question of changing the road map undoubtedly will come up for your consideration. I would earnestly urge that you coordinate your work with the commission in this regard, that you meet with the commission on common ground. The commission has made a scientific and exhaustive study, not only of the road situation, but of the manner in which the funds may be used in giving the largest returns to all of the state. I am pleased to abide by the commission’s judgment in these matters, and if any changes are contemplated I would suggest that they be made by and with the commission’s sanction and consent. Such is the logical and proper way to bring about the largest and best results for all concerned.
Our Timber Resources
Oregon has about one-fifth of the nation’s timber supply within its borders and more standing timber than any other state. While it is now third among producing states it will soon be first and its annual lumber pay roll is approximately $50,000,000. Timber is one of our greatest resources and assets and we should look ahead to its conservation and production to the vest of our ability. To denude our forests without looking ahead to their replacement would be a calamity to the commonwealth.
Our State Board of Forestry, which in the manner of its composition and its functioning is probably the most advances in the Union, has recently adopted a forestry policy unparalleled by any other state and which represents a definite and exceedingly forward looking program. The board itself will see that this policy is brought to your attention in detail but among other things the board advocates state forests, assistance to farmers and timberland owners in management of their properties, tax reform, land classification, protection of all potential forest lands and a campaign of education looking to better understanding of our forest problems. As chairman of the state board I appreciate what care and thought have been given to the outlining of these plans and the immense value which they may be to the state.
Fire prevention is one of our greatest problems and one of the most important in the preservation of our forests. Ample aid should be given to that branch of our forestry work. Our climate and the species developed here are highly favorable to rapid forest growth and natural reforestation. In maintaining our fire prevention work on a high plane we are not alone protecting our great existing forest resources, but we are assuring rapid development of timbered areas for future use. In those areas fitted to natural timber growth and not essentially fitted for agricultural development we find that the forests will naturally reassert themselves after cutting, if fire does not prevent. Consequently the key to solving the reforestation problem for Oregon may be found in our efforts to prevent fire and to keep fires from destroying the new growth. Proper fire prevention will mean a natural reproduction of our forests during the course of a reasonable number of years. It is one of our most solemn duties to protect and preserve this enormous asset and to augment it and replenish it while we may. I am certain this legislature will not slight the demands which will be made upon it from that direction. Every effort is being made by the board to secure a continuance of federal assistance for fire prevention; timber owners themselves bear a great share of this expense, and the burden of the cost is by no means borne by the state alone.
Aerial Fire Patrol
One of the most successful phases of forest fire prevention work in Oregon during the past two years has been the aerial forest fire patrol, manned by aviators of the United States Army, working under the direction of the war department and the state and federal forest services. We hope to see that patrol extend all over the Pacific Northwest. No appropriation is being asked for this from the state, although the emergency board granted assistance in the sum of $5,000 last year, only a small portion of which was used. The patrol is financed by the federal government and gives to army aviators the finest possible kind of practical training. While exact figures are not obtainable it unquestionably has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars of fire losses to the State of Oregon during the past two fire seasons. The aerial patrolman may see over a great area, while the land patrolman has greatly restricted vision and a greatly restricted area to patrol. The aerial patrolman may cover hundreds of miles in a day to the tens of miles covered by the patrolman on foot. The aerial patrol is the greatest single step yet taken in advance in forest fire patrol work, and, while we are asking for no money from the state in carrying on this work, it will receive the constant and continued cooperation of our forestry department, and we do ask the earnest moral support of each of you in connection with any measures which may come before the federal government for a continuance and expansion of this work.
Accomplishments of the aerial fire patrol in Oregon during the past year may be summed up briefly from a report of the air service of the war department. This report shows that from July 1 to September 15, inclusive, one hundred and twelve patrols were made out of Eugene, Oregon, covering 27,688 minutes of flying time; with 1,988,090 square miles of lands patrolled; 54,535 miles flown by the planes and 648 fires discovered. Out of the station at Medford, Oregon, from July 1 to September 15, inclusive, 71 patrols were made. The flying time for these patrols required 16,365 minutes, with 974,151 square miles of territory patrolled and 32,730 miles flown by the planes. These patrols discovered 85 fires. The figures disclose that the aviators in the Oregon patrols located a total of 733 fires during the season. None but the Omnipotent knows how many of these incipient blazes might have become devouring conflagrations, bringing in their wake waste and ruin to millions of dollars of timberland had they not been located by the keen-eyed pilots aloft and stamped out before becoming irresistible.
Industrial Accident Commission
The Industrial Accident Commission of Oregon has grown into one of the most important functions of state government. The affairs of that commission are now in splendid condition; claims are met promptly; the addition of an expert accountant as a member of the commission has resulted in a record of the funds being kept which is plain and intelligible to the ordinary layman; and back payments from employers have been collected until deficits are reduced to a minimum. Before the special session of 1920 a committee of fifteen, containing representatives of the employers, employees, and citizens of the state at large was designated to investigate proposed changes in the workman’s compensation act and make recommendation to that session. This was done so successfully it was deemed advisable by all parties in interest to continue suck work under a similar committee. This committee has had a large number of meetings, has gone carefully into all suggestions and recommendations which have been offered, and has had at its command at all times the services of the members of the commission as well as their employees. Not only has the method of considering these amendments by the committee proved highly beneficial to the workmen’s compensation act but has given a splendid basis for considering advanced proposals along the line of safety first and accident prevention work-highly essential features in our industrial life of today.
Rehabilitation work, first recommended by this committee previous to the special session and authorized by legislation of that session, has proved itself a wonderful success. One member of the commission has devoted much of his time to development of this work. As a result an expert investigator of the federal government has declared the work of the Oregon commission to be far in advance of that in any other state; numerous other states are investigation our methods for adoption by themselves, and, what is better than all, the commission’s activities are showing large results in placing maimed and injured workers back in the field of self-supporting, competent and happy citizens.
I bespeak for this committee’s recommendations your most careful and earnest consideration. The work being done by the commission vitally affects the welfare of thousands of citizens of our state and any legislation in connection with it is worthy of deep and thoughtful attention.
Oregon’s Soldiers, Sailors and Marines
Two years ago, while memories of Chateau-Thierry and the Argonne were fresh in the minds of everyone, much was talked of as to assistance for our returning soldiers, sailors and marines, and considerable was done. Our financial educational aid act has brought inquiries to us from every state in the Union, from those who would re-enact it into law elsewhere. Legislation was provided furnishing money for their immediate needs. An effort was made to work out some satisfactory land settlement and reconstruction projects, but these failed to meet with the approval of the people at a referendum election. In other ways efforts were made to show the men who gave up their places in civil life to fight our battles abroad for us, that the people of the state were not unmindful of the sacrifices they had made.
Their deeds and sacrifices should by no means be forgotten. If by any possible chance it appears there may exist any unemployment situation during the coming biennium; if there is a chance that some of them may be in hardships or straits of any kind, this legislature should do all in its power to foresee such as prospect and to see that a remedy is at hand should see contingency arise. I would further suggest that if any continuation of land settlement plans are contemplated that by all means they have as their basis a preferential right to be extended to honorably discharge soldiers, sailors and marines.
I cannot let this opportunity pass without remarking upon the splendid manner in which these men have become absorbed back into civil life; upon the magnificent way in which they are taking up arms in the battles of peace. In the organization of their American Legion they have shown a whole-hearted patriotism and a desire for a continuation of a high type of Americanized citizenship which makes them doubly worthy of any consideration which should be shown them by this legislature.
Financial Aid for Our Fighting Men
A reluctant congress has had before it for some time a proposal to give a slight reward to the soldiers, sailors and marines of the great war for the services they rendered. At thirty dollars a month, these men offered to sacrifice their lives, and those who returned home unwounded and in perfect health, nevertheless rendered great sacrifices without hope of reward. I firmly believe the nation should do something for these men. If the nation will not, Oregon should come forward in the same spirit of patriotism which actuated her during the war and show in a material way her deep appreciation for the services given. I further believe the state should wait no longer. Congress has delayed and haggled over this measure until the light of hope is fast fading. If we do our share, and congress eventually should come forward with additional funds, our men will then receive little enough for what they did.
I appreciate that our soldiers, sailors and marines went into this war without hope of monetary reward. No monetary reward could repay in even an infinitesimal part of a measure for what they gave up and for what they did. But that does not remove the fact that we owe them, and our prosperity forever will owe them, a boundless debt of our sentiment in words is well and good, but it may be conveyed in a substantial way which indicates that we mean each word we say.
I would have the state give these men at least $25 for every month of actual service they each had in the military or naval branches of the United States government. I would not call it a “bonus.” It would not be a bonus. It would be a very small share of their rightful due, particularly when compared with some of the wages paid to men who worked at home while these men were fighting abroad.
I realize full well that your legislative assembly cannot appropriate any such sum of money as would be required to stand the expense of paying this amount of money to the soldiers who served from this state. The six percent limitation amendment would forbid that.
But, in the first instance, the money should come from all of the people themselves, in a generous response for the service rendered. This legislative assembly can, and I believe it will, refer to the people for their consideration a bill of this nature and I believe the people of the state are sufficiently appreciative of these great services to respond with an enormous majority in favor of such a measure.
I respectfully urge upon you to place such a measure before the people of the state to be voted upon at an early date.
None of us can ever forget the spontaneous outpouring of Oregon National Guardsmen when the call came for America to enter the great war, nor are the people of this state unmindful of the record they made during that period of stress and storm. The National Guard has now been made our first and strongest arm of national defense and Oregon holds a proud place among the states of the nation in its National Guard personnel. It is essential to the welfare of the state that the Guard be maintained upon a high plane. We are to get many more companies and units of various kinds. The federal government stands a large share of the burden of this expense, but the state must stand a reasonable share. I urge upon the legislature to so its full duty in this regard.
Soldiers’ Home at Roseburg
The surviving veterans of the war between the sections are becoming more feeble with each passing year, and much as we regret to whisper it, yet it is an inevitable truth that there can not elapse many more years before they have passed into history. At one of the most beautiful sites in the state, near Roseburg, the state maintains a home for these old veterans. Some recommendations will come to you for the support and betterment of that home and by all means it should be aided to the extent of your finances. It is a duty not to be lightly slighted, for us to see that these men, who fought on so many battlefields, who went through so many of the dark shadows for the preservation of our Union, should spend their declining days surrounded by all of the cheer and affection we may show them.
I have mentioned the American Legion to you, and I would also call your attention to the splendid record in peace at which has been made by the Grand Army of the Republic. At each roster roll the camps of that army finds their ranks thinned, but those who are left may look back over a record of solid patriotism and splendid citizenship which soothes and sustains them in the last few years of their lived, and which, aside from their record in war, should make them forever enshrined in the memories of their countrymen.
Work of the insurance department has been progressing satisfactorily and that department has been yielding a revenue of about $275,000 a year to the state. Experience has shown that non-resident property owners in many cases place insurance on their property, in some instances in large amounts, with companies not authorized to transact business in this state. This results in the state losing the revenue it would otherwise receive in fees from the companies and taxes on the premiums. It in turn works an injustice on the companies complying with our laws and contributing a large share of revenue. I believe the condition one that should be remedied.
The 1919 legislature created a new duty for the insurance department-the licensing of real estate brokers. This branch of the work is developing into one if considerable importance, and one yielding considerable revenue. No discretion is given to the department in the issuance of licenses. I believe its functions should be broadened so that licenses could be refused to persons unable to establish a good character. Inviting as we do the citizens of the world to make real estate investments with us and establish homes here, it is essential that those newcomers should be accorded honest treatment at the hands of honest real estate agents. Enlargement of the powers of this department as suggested will, I am certain, be a long step in that direction.
The insurance commissioner, who is ex officio state fire marshal, is able to report constant reductions in fire insurance rates from the activities of that department. The loss ratio fixes the cost of insurance, and the work of the marshal and his deputies has been bringing very satisfactory results in many cities of the state where recommendations of the department have been heeded.
A most deplorable catastrophe occurred at Klamath Falls a few months ago when a number of citizens lost their lives and heavy property loss was experienced. The lessons drawn from that fire lead me to recommend that the fire marshal’s department be given greater authority to make rules for the protection of life and property. Rigid enforcement of fire prevention statutes under state regulation takes out from local complication this important phase of activity and many lives and much property value may be saved in the future by giving to the fire marshal a sufficient degree of latitude in his work.
Expenses of the department are covered by assessments on insurance companies, which are deeply interested in prevention of conflagration losses. I am advised that the insurance companies will have no objection to a slight increase in the rate of taxes assessed against them for this work, and for the good of the department and the safety of our citizens recommend that such an increase be authorized.
Every effort should be made to give as full protection as possible against carelessness of mismanagement under our present banking supervisory system. Expense of supervision is borne by banking companies coming under the act, and I am advised by the office of superintendent of banks that the present schedule of fees, which has not been changed since 1913, does not come up to the necessary requirements. It is suggested that the law be amended to increase the scale of fees based upon total resources, less capital and surplus, instead of being based on deposits, as under the present act. The superintendent of banks has further advised me he believes there will be no objection to the change from the bankers of the state.
Another change suggested by the department, and one I believe to be salutary, is proposed new requirement that banks in cities of over 50,000 population be required to have a minimum capital of $200,000, rather than the $100,000 required now, except where such bank is located beyond the two mile limit from the central post office of such city. This change would affect the city of Portland alone and I believe it desirable that such requirement be made for any institution located in the heart of a cite of that size. The federal law imposes such a requirement upon national banks in Portland and the state should at least be as watchful over the welfare of its depositors in state banks, as the federal authorities are over the welfare of depositors in national banks.
Protecting Bond Investors
The recent suspension of a large Portland bonding house, dealing in municipal bonds, and the resultant possible financial loss to many of our citizens, demonstrates the necessity of state regulation and supervision over such business. While comparatively new, the business of dealing in municipal bonds has increased so rapidly that it is now being conducted upon a very large scale. This is, perhaps, due to the fact that municipalities finding it impracticable to finance necessary governmental projects by direct taxation, have had to resort to the issuance and sale of bonds. This policy is continually expanding and the amount of bonds rapidly increasing in volume, the results of which is that the business of dealing in such bonds is correspondingly increasing, and the people who invest in such securities are entitled to every protection the law can afford.
It is evident that no department of state has exercised any jurisdiction or supervision over this business, and the heads of the corporation and banking departments are of the opinion that present laws do not give either department jurisdiction over such business. Therefore I recommend the immediate passage of legislation specifically covering this situation, and while I am confident any law you may pass will fully meet the requirements, I would suggest that provision be made to require and concern dealing in such bonds to furnish satisfactory proof and security to guarantee its ability and responsibility to deliver the bonds bargained for or reimburse the investor as promised. From what examination I have been able to make I am of the opinion that the regulation and supervision of this class of business should properly be placed under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of banks.
Taxation may be successfully imposed only to a certain point. When our lands, our industries and the products of our soil can no longer bear that burden, taxes become confiscatory and increases must cease. It is wrong policy to force taxation to a point where the burden becomes excessive. Increase of direct taxation should be brought about mainly through increases in development; through more and larger industries; through greater productivity of our farms, and a greater number of our farms occupied, thus bringing the consequent increases in valuations. Any measures you may enact to bring about such much desired and beneficial results will be salutary in the extreme and deep thought should be given to the best way to effect them.
Oregon is developing largely in an industrial way. These industries should be given every reasonable and proper support from her people for they mean much to the future progress of the state. Legislation should be carefully weighed in regard to its effect on industrial progress and care exercised in determining that prospective laws do not carry burdens too heavy for industries to bear. We wish to see our citizens of all classes prosper; we wish to see good results for our industries as they mean larger wages, more prosperity for the worker, better returns for the farmer, the banker and the merchant. Prosperity or poverty for our wage earners closely follow on the success of failure of our industries. I can not magnify too strongly the necessity for the exercise of soundly tempered judgment in the enactment of any laws which may have such a decided bearing on the future financial welfare of all classes of our citizens.
Money may be saved and greater efficiency obtained by a more centralized administration of some of the state’s labor activities. I believe the purely administrative affairs of the Board of Inspectors of Child Labor and of the Industrial Welfare Commission should be centered in the office of State Labor Commissioner. The boards themselves should be retained in an advisory capacity to the Labor Commission. Based on current budget estimates the Labor Commission informs me $10,000 can be saved nest biennium by such consolidation and a greater efficiency brought about. He, too, favors the plan and I believe it should be adopted.
A substantial saving also may be made and greater efficiency obtained by consolidating the office of State Sealer of Weights and Measure with the office of State Dairy and Food Commissioner. The office of State Sealer of Weights and Measure is now lodged in the State Treasury Department, but it has no relation to or direct connection with the functions of that department, while, on the other hand, the duties of State Sealer are in complete harmony with the duties of the Dairy and Food Commissioner and could be preformed by the same deputies.
I am assured by the Dairy and Food Commissioner that this consolidation would result in substantial saving, as he could perform the duties of State Sealer with a very slight addition to his present force of field men. I think this consolidation should be made,
State Lime Plant
Special reports furnished to the executive office by the State Lime Board show that the plant at Gold Hill closed in December, 1919, for the principal reason that the funds were completely exhausted. A financial statement by the board showed unpaid bills amounting in $2,215.06, and a net operating loss for the plant of $11,243.73 on the balance sheet of April 15,1920. I understand that this stands approximately the same at the present time save for some additional rentals accumulating under the contract on the quarry leased by the board.
The board at a meeting in October was of the opinion that the plant can be operated successfully if its operation be restricted to the late spring and summer and the early fall months, and if sufficient funds can be provided as operating capital to enable the board to operate the quarry and grind limestone to store it for sale during the fall and winter months. The board is asking for an appropriation for this operating capital.
Anything this legislature may do in reason to develop agriculture should be done. It is the backbone of our state and is one of the greatest of its tax producers. Agriculture as an industry certainly is worthy all assistance, and while the lime plant has palpably been a failure financially in the past, I believe it should be continued for another biennium. If it can be made beneficial for our farm lands, by all means we should continue its operation, even if at some loss to the state. If it develops our agricultural resources the loss will be repaid indirectly in a large volume and nothing should be done toward its abandonment until it is shown that farmers of not wish its further continuance and can no longer benefit by it.
Habitual Offenders Act
Our state constitution provides that “laws for the punishment of crime shall be founded upon the principle of reformation, and not of vindictive justice.” It is a wise and humane provision and our legislators have observed it in the enactment of their parole laws and in the safeguards which have been thrown about accused or convicted men. But society should be protected against the confirmed and incorrigible criminal, the man who has shown himself a felon beyond hope of reform.
In a sister state a law known at the “habitual offenders’” act has been in successful operation for some years. Under that law, after a man has twice served sentences in a penitentiary on a felony charge, and for a third time has been convicted for the commission of a felony, he may be tried under this act and sentences to prison for life. I believe such a law should be enacted here. In the first instance, those who have served two terms for felony in our sister state are apt to leave there because of fears of future consequences and come into Oregon to continue their criminal career. In the second, and the more important instance, we may have ample reason to feel that if two terms in the penitentiary can not reform a man, he is incorrigible and beyond the hope of reformation and the proper place for him is in close restriction, behind prison bars, where is no longer a menace to society and no longer jeopardizes human life. Oregon should have a similar act and I trust you will write it upon out statute books.
The matter of public health is of paramount importance. Development of sanitation along scientific lines is becoming almost a creed, accepted by the great majority of our people as a necessary adjunct of the public welfare. Requests for support of these bodies having for their purpose the benefit and betterment of the public health should be met by as liberal response as the public finances will allow.
Our experience with influenza epidemics has shown us that this dread disease strikes when and where it pleases, and that an epidemic may develop almost overnight. Our state resources have been taxed to the limit and it has been impossible to meet these emergencies properly at times. The American Red Cross has cooperated splendidly. While we trust no further epidemics of this nature will arise man can not prophesy such good fortune. As a possible safeguard and aid in time of emergency, I suggest that the law be so amended as to allow the county courts to make a transfer of funds, when in their discretion such is necessary, to provide means for combating such epidemics. One of our counties not many months ago found itself virtually helpless, because of its isolated situation, and because of the lack of nurses and medical help. A judicious use of county funds at that time might have prevented many deaths and much suffering. But the county court sat with its hands tied, although expressing itself as willing to come to the rescue.
Higher Educational Institutions
At the special election last May the people of the state made handsome provision for the finances of the higher educational institutions by substantially increased millage taxes, as set under way by the legislature preceding this.
It is pleasing to note the advances made by all of our higher institutions of learning. It has been my pleasure and good fortune to visit each of them a number of times during the past two years and I wish to report to you that there is a splendid feeling of cooperation between the respective facilities and student bodies; that the spirit of loyalty to the institutions, the state and nation existing among the students is most gratifying, and that all of these institutions are functioning with a degree of success and are producing earnest, conscientious and well founded citizens who will mean much to the future life of the state.
Auto Mechanics Fees
The 1919 legislative assembly created the State Board of Automobile Mechanics Examiners. Under the law creating the board a fee of five dollars was exacted from each applicant taking the examination. Twelve hundred and thirty-two applicants took such examination and pair the required fee, according to the final report of the board. The law creating the board was declared unconstitutional and the board ceased to function. Its report showed that the board deposited funds with the state treasurer aggregating $6,160.00, while the board’s total expenditures amounted to $4,676.41, leaving on deposit with the state treasurer a balance of $1,483.59, which has reverted to the general fund. Inasmuch as the applicants under this law paid their fee in good faith, and because of the unconstitutionality of the act, received no benefits from it whatsoever, I recommend that all these fees be repaid. A state appropriation of $6,160.00 would be required for this purpose. The defunct board filed with my office an itemized statement giving the mane and address of each applicant and the amount of fee pain in each case, and this list will be transmitted to the ways and means committee for its consideration.
Jason Lee Memorial
Before you in this Hall of Representatives you see a splendid portrait of Jason Lee, unveiled there during the present year, with appropriate ceremonies attended by and participated in by leading citizens of the state. Regardless of creed or denomination all citizens of Oregon owe an undying debt of gratitude to the memory of Jason Lee. He pioneered the way which not only opened Oregon to civilization but which made it one of the state of the Union. As a man of heroic mold who took a foremost place in the founding of our commonwealth we owe to his name a high degree of praise.
In Washington, D. C., in the rotunda of the capitol building, two niches are provided for each state of the United States in which they may place the busts of two citizens to whom they care to give such remembrance. Oregon’s niches are vacant, awaiting the action of the state. I am advised that it is within the province of this legislative assembly to decree that the bust of Jason Lee shall forever stand in the nation’s capitol, typical of one of our foremost citizens and I urge upon you that you take such steps as will bring this about, making a fitting appropriation to cover the expense of such a bust as will be a credit to the state and to the man whom we wish to honor.
Oregon Building at San Francisco
At the close of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco in 1915, the magnificent Oregon Building at the exposition was turned over by the Oregon Commission at the fair to the then Commander of the Western Department of the United States Army for the use of the officers and men of the army. At his death complications ensued which caused the Oregon Commission, in conjunction with this office, to extend the use of the building to the commander of the department, and his successors, for the use of the officers and men of the army. I believe this is a splendid way for the State of Oregon to dispose of the building and I recommend that legislative confirmation be given to such deed of trust.
Investment of State Funds
There is a general public feeling, joined in by the state treasurer, who has charge of the investment of State Industrial Accident Commission finds, that the responsibility for such investment is too heavy, and the duties in connection therewith are too grace and serious a nature, to repose them entirely upon the shoulders of one public official.
I believe the legislature should grant this relief to the state treasurer and therefore recommend that legislation be enacted providing that before the state treasurer may invest such funds he shall obtain the approval of the State Industrial Accident Commission for each investment. This suggestion is in line with a recommendation embodied in the report of the Committee of Fifteen which as been making a study of the workmen’s compensation law.
Our Tourist Asset
Oregon is spending forty millions of dollars in the development of her highways. Primarily this is for the benefit of our own citizens; to being markets closer to the farmer; to make country life more attractive, and to open all of our state to the urban population as well. But back of this is an immense asset in the share of the tourist. To speak openly, the tourist is going to be one of the biggest factors in refunding our highway expenditures. I believe that those tourists who enter Oregon over these highways during the next ten years will more then repay to us all the money which we are expending on them. Aside from that hundreds of them will locate here; they will become our future citizens; they will open up our new lands; bring new money among us and assist in developing old industries and in establishing and building up new ones. We can not fail to take full advantage of this opportunity.
We are expending thousands of dollars in urging the tourist to come here. It is necessary that we care for him when he comes. He must be given a genuine welcome; he must be given proper accommodations; our state must be open to him for such a welcome. The welcoming of and the handling of tourists coming to Oregon should be developed along soundly organized lines and I ask your consideration of proper measures to this end.
While touching upon the magnificent asset we have in tourist travel to and through the state, I wish to call your attention to the highly satisfactory results which have been brought about through appropriations which have been given to the Pacific Northwest Tourist Association. Large returns are certain to come from such expenditures and I believe their reasonable continuance a matter of sound investment.
Fair Board Accounts
The Oregon State Fair Board is the only department connected with state government that is allowed to go from biennium to biennium without having its vouchers and accounts pass through the hands of the state auditor. Your attention is called to this fact as a condition which I believe should be remedied. It may be essential that the fair board have the use of a revolving or emergency fund to handle the payment of its premiums, prizes and incidental expenses during the period of the fair, but, as a matter of plain business, the fiscal affairs of the fair board generally should go through the state auditor as other accounts are audited, and I strongly recommend that laws be enacted for that purpose.
Fish and Game Licenses
I am of the opinion that the present annual charge of $1.50 for fish and game licenses is too small, and recommend that it be increased to $2.50. Our wild life is the property of all the people of the state, and it is fair, equitable and just that those who consume that life in the name of sport should bear a reasonable share of the burden in the cost of its propagation and preservation.
As we have been developing our highways and inviting tourists to share in the glories of our state, the feeling has been growing constantly that steps should be taken to protect those sylvan beauties which in many instances have been destroyed in the denuding of the forests. This is a subject of such vast importance to the welfare of Oregon that in the near future I hope to advise you of my findings and recommendations in regard thereto in a separate message to your honorable body.
I wish to thank you for bearing with me in the reading of this message. You have been elected to positions of great trust. In many ways the condition of our people depend upon what action you may take in these legislative halls. They look to you for calm and deliberate discussion of those matters of import which will come before you; the look to you to expend their money judiciously and well; they look to you as their representatives to safeguard their interests, to cherish their ideals and to preserve inviolate the trust which they have reposed in you. From my knowledge of the thought and disposition of the various members of your body I feel that you have come here with only the welfare of the state and its people deeply impressed in your hearts and that you will give to the problems confronting you the earnestness, the serious thought and the untiring efforts which they deserve.
The executive and administrative departments of the state government will be at your disposal at all times with such information or assistance as you may seek from them.
When this session is concluded and you will have returned to your homes, I sincerely hope that I may say with you that we have kept the faith and have rendered our services only a they should ever be rendered by faithful servants.