Governor Oswald D. West's Administration
Biennial Message, 1913
Source: Oregon Messages and Documents, 1910-1912, Letters, Salem, Oregon, Willis S. Duniway, State Printer, 1913.
OSWALD WEST Governor of Oregon, To the
Twenty-Seventh Legislative Assembly Regular Session 1913
To the Honorable, the Members of the Legislature of the State of Oregon:
GENTLEMEN: In accordance with the usual custom, and the command of the Constitution, it again becomes my pleasant duty to present for your information a brief statement of the condition of our public affairs and offer for your kindly consideration a few suggestions which, it appears to me, would make for the greater development of the State and the increased prosperity of her people.
Important questions will be presented for your consideration at this session, among them: A compensation act, a revision of our judicial system, an insurance code and the Jefferson Street Levee and the Columbia Southern irrigation matters. These have been brought to your attention and quite fully discussed through special reports which have been mailed you from time to time.
There is, therefore, no need of my taking your time, or trying your patience, with a detailed discussion of these several questions. Suffice it to say that the reports have been prepared by men who have given the subjects most painstaking investigation and study and whose recommendations merit your earnest consideration.
THE STATE’S FINANCES
The State’s finances are in a splendid condition. We have no debts, bonded or otherwise, to worry us and there are ample funds on hand to meet all current expenses. Unexpended appropriation and accumulated receipts from license fees and other sources in excess of a million dollars will be available for expenditure during the ensuing year and make necessary a State tax levy of but $1,000,00 as against $3,000,000 last year.
THE STATE INSTITUTIONS
You were promised two years ago that the maintenance appropriations made by you for the support of our State institutions would answer the purpose and that you would not be called upon to make deficiencies good. I am pleased to advise you that this promise has been kept.
Our State penal and eleemosynary institutions have an approximate population of 2,700 inmates. Their care has necessitated the hire of 370 employees and an average annual expenditure during the past two years of about $1,000,000. This is a vast sum of money for the taxpayers of the State to be called upon to pay each year, yet it is a condition which to be met. These institutions are a product of the times and present day society and until we consent to study the causes which fill them and take steps to remove these causes we may expect to be called upon to meet, not only the present demands, but greatly increased burdens in the future.
Too often these institutions have been used as political footballs so that their affairs and needs have many times failed to receive at the hands of the legislature the sober, sincere and unbiased consideration which they merited. Inmates have been made to suffer through failure of the legislature to provide adequate funds for their care and support—this due at times to indifference on the part of a superintendent and at others to a desire on the part of someone in the legislature to embarrass him in his work. Politics is not now a factor in the management of these institutions. The present board can say, and without fear of contradiction, that this influence has never in a single instance dictated the selection of an officer or employee at one of them.
The last legislature treated the institutions with fair liberality, and the board, through close attention to their affairs and the hearty co-operation of officers and employees, offer them today for your inspection in a far superior condition than has ever before existed. Should their needs receive the consideration which they merit at your hands, and I am sure they will, the board can promise you tow years hence a group of institutions ranking among the best, if not the best, in the United States, and this notwithstanding that many of the buildings are old and out of date.
The reports of these several institutions set forth in detail the expenditures during the past biennium and make known their future needs. Copies of these reports having bee mailed you, it will not, therefore, be necessary for me to discuss their needs except in a general way.
THE STATE PURCHASING BOARD
The Purchasing Board has proved its usefulness not only in simplifying the purchase of supplies for State institutions and at most satisfactory prices, but in pointing out the advantages which would accrue to the State from a further consolidation in the management of all State institutions.
A SINGLE BOARD OF CONTROL
All State penal and eleemosynary institutions should be placed under a single board of control and to avoid creating new officials and expense the said board should consist of the Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer. The State Purchasing Board should be merged with this board. By this arrangement the management of our State institutions can be greatly simplified and the cost reduced.
THE SOLDIERS’ HOME
The Soldiers’ Home appears to be receiving fair treatment at the hands of the legislature and offers many comforts to those old patriots who through wounds, misfortune or old age have been obliged to throw themselves upon the mercies of the State. The Commandant is not asking a single dollar for betterments and, if no change is made in the rules governing admission, will ask no greater amount for maintenance than was appropriated at the last session.
It is being asked, however, that the rule limiting admissions to those who draw pensions not exceeding $20.00 per month be abrogated and that no restrictions whatever be applied. Inasmuch as the ranks of the veterans are growing thinner each day and in the view of the great debt we owe them, it would undoubtedly be an act of justice to remove the restriction. Should this be done, however, the legislature must first make provision for the erection of additional quarters and the additional cost of maintenance.
The overcrowded conditions which have prevailed at the Oregon State Insane Asylum at Salem during the past few years have been relieved to a certain extent by the occupancy of the new receiving hospital and will be further relieved by the transfer within have been made upon the first of the year had it not been for an unfortunate delay in supplying certain hardware needed for the final completion of the institution.
The present needs of our insane therefore are well cared for but their future requirements must not be overlooked. The growth of the State demands that reasonable provision be made for an increased population. It would be inhuman to permit a recurrence of the overcrowded conditions of the past.
Our insane asylum is a wonderful institution. Its management is the best. No similar institution can offer its unfortunate inmates better food, more comfort or more kindly treatment.
The new hospital at Pendleton when finished will be complete in every detail and will stand as a model as far as construction and arrangement is concerned. To avoid past blunders and great financial waste the board in drafting its plans took into consideration the demands which the future would make upon it and laid the foundation for a much larger institution than at present constructed. The administration building, the heating plant and laundry are of sufficient capacity to supply the needs of an institution of far greater size, and future additions, therefore, may be confined largely to the erected of additional wards for the accommodation of an increased population.
INSTITUTIONS FOR FEEBLE-MINDED
The institution has been unable to meet the demands for admission made upon it. The last legislature, owing to the crowded condition, appropriated funds for the erection of a building to relieve the situation, but made no provision for the maintenance of an increased population. In view of this no particular haste was made by the board in the matter of erecting the new dormitory. It is now completed, however, and will be ready for occupancy at any time or as soon as the legislature makes provision to cover the necessary additional maintenance cost. Additional buildings will have to be constructed at an early date if the ever increasing demands upon the institution are to be met.
This institution was established to serve a worthy purpose but for some reason, either because it is improperly located, its advantages not thoroughly understood, or because it is ahead of the times, is not proving the success its friends anticipated. The board having supervision of the institution’s affairs is made up of a number and public spirited citizens who have unselfishly devoted much time and effort in an endeavor to make it a success. Most of these gentlemen contend that the institution should be continued and believe that it will eventually prove its worth. I am unable to take this view of the situation, however. It may be that I am looking more to the expense than the benefits, but I cannot help thinking that under some different system the same money could be made to produced far greater results.
The institution is top-heavy. We are spending much money to heat and maintain a large structure which is of but little use to the inmates. This unnecessary burden and the small population produce an unusually high per capita cost. It seems to me that until the demands of the State justify the maintenance of such an institution, that all indigent sufferers from tuberculosis should be permitted to patronize such private sanitariums as may be license by the State through the State Board of Health and that a reasonable per capita charge be paid to cover the expense of keeping them. This arrangement would work a considerable saving for the State while the people would not shirk their duty toward these poor unfortunates.
Should the institution be abolished the buildings could be used for a Home for the Aged or a Home for Wayward Girls.
THE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF
This school is well located and such buildings as have been erected are well adapted to the needs of the institution. Some additional outbuildings and equipment are still needed as will be shown by the report of the superintendent.
Many acres of land surrounding the institution, formerly swamp and brush, have been reclaimed through the aid of convict labor and have proven most productive. These lands will do much towards keeping down the maintenance cost of the institution.
THE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND
The buildings at this institution are not only veritable wooden fire traps, but are so located that a railroad track, a mill race and a creek, which at times in the winter is a raging torrent, must be crossed by the blind children in going to or from the school or city.
Fire proof buildings should be provided or the school closed. Otherwise it is only a question of time until we will be called upon to shudder at an awful holocaust. I am opposed to any further appropriation for the maintenance of this school unless it comes coupled with provision for better fire protection. Should fire proof buildings be provided for the school, the matter of securing a more suitable location for the same should be given consideration.
THE STATE TRAINING SCHOOL
This institution is being used as a dumping ground for boys who should be living in better homes. Many parents cause, or permit, their children to be committed her for no other reason than that they may be relieved of the burden of their maintenance . This should not be tolerated. Parents should not be permitted to cast a life-long stigma upon a child in order that they may be relieved of a duty which they owe to it and to society.
On the other hand there are incorrigibles committed here who are too vicious to be associated with boys whose reformation would otherwise be possible. These should be sent to another institution—a reformatory, a halfway station between the training school and the penitentiary, a place where those whose age or records make them out of place at either institution, could be confined.
The institution’s daily average population appears to have been one hundred and the monthly per capita cost $23.25, to say nothing of the expenditures for betterments and improvements. Of this monthly per capita cost about $10 went for salaries of officers and employees. This is an amount nearly twice that of similar expenditure at the penitentiary. These figures go to show that the institution is, and will be for years to come, top-heavy, and that it is placing unnecessary burdens upon the taxpayers.
I would, therefore, recommend that the institution no longer be used for the purposes to which it is now devoted. I would further recommend that simple cottages and other necessary buildings be erected upon the lands owned by the State at Union, Oregon, and that after about one-half of the boys now at the school have been returned to their parents or placed in suitable homes, the remainder be transferred to said farm at Union there to receive all necessary training and education.
THE OREGON STATE PENITENTIARY
This institution had its birth about forty years ago. Added years and population brought it added filth and added rubbish. For two whole years we have shoveled and scraped and scraped and shoveled in an endeavor to make the institution and grounds clean and sanitary. We have made much progress, but still have far to go. However, this coming year will see such work pretty well taken care of and the institution and properties take on an appearance which will compare favorably with the best of similar institutions in other states.
The superintendent’s report presents in detail much information in regard to the affairs of the institution and merits your careful consideration. The institution’s problem is what to do with its surplus labor. This question must be met. During the past year we have been able, in spite of unjust criticism, misrepresentation and many obstacles, to keep the men all busily engaged and at occupations which were of profit to the public.
Upon taking office I found scores of idle men in the institution and their ranks were suddenly swelled by the cancellation of the stove foundry contract. Notwithstanding the dilapidated structures and the filth and rubbish sadly in need of removal, many of these idle men were locked in their cells or permitted to loaf around the prison year.
To relieve the situation, those whom it was thought could be trusted were sent out to work on the roads and at various State institutions. The balance were kept busy in and about the prison premises cleaning and repairing the building and in clearing and reclaiming waste and unproductive lands.
The people of this State at our recent election by a large vote endorsed the policy of working convicts on county roads and at State institutions. It can therefore be taken as a settled policy and one which will take care of about one-third of our prison population. A similar number can be utilized in the ordinary upkeep of the prison and prison properties. This leaves one-third of the population not provided for. These men cannot and must not be left in idleness. The institution can work out its own salvation if the management is given the right and authority to conduct it on business principles and use institutional earnings to cover operating expense, install additional industries and take care of needed improvements.
Turn to the brick year account of 1911 and you will find, notwithstanding over one-third of the brick manufactured was delivered to State institutions at $5.000 per thousand, the sum of $16,700 was turned into the State Treasury. Ten thousand dollars of this amount was profit and the total would have been $12,000 had full value been collected for brick furnished the institutions.
Then came the critics who attempted to prove it was unlawful for us to make money for the taxpayers and we were obliged to cease. It was with difficulty that we found a way to manufacture brick to meet the needs of the several State institutions during 1912 and keep within the law as pointed out by our critics.
The total cash earnings of the institution during the biennium was $40,955.01. Earnings through labor furnished State institutions and counties, figured at 75 cent per day, but not collected, amounted to $29,615.75, making a total of $70,570.76 or just about one-half of the maintenance cost of the institution.
What Oregon’s prison policy shall be in the future rests largely with you. We have put forth our best efforts in an endeavor to solve the prison labor problem and feel that we have made much progress—in fact far more than was thought possible in the beginning.
With the installation of industries and the manufacture of articles of State institutions only, the prison can within a few years be made self-supporting. Industries can be gradually installed and paid for out of the institution’s earnings if such a course is authorized, but if not authorized then an appropriation of at least $25,000 should be made for the use of the management in procuring needed machinery.
The last legislature appropriated $11,250 to install 24 new steel cells. Through favorable prices on materials and the use of our own labor we were able to install 48 cells, thus fully supplying the demands of the institution.
Our institutions of higher education are either needed or are not needed. If needed they should receive liberal support; otherwise they should be abolished. Provision should be made at this time for placing them on a millage tax basis in order that they maybe relieved of the necessity of coming begging to the legislature each session.
OTHER PROPOSED INSTITUTIONS
Drunkard’s Home—Our jails and State institutions are crowded with victims of the drink habit. These unfortunates are a continual expense of the taxpayers. A meritorious compensation act which makes each industry provide for the families of its killed and injured is being proposed at this session. In view of this, I can see no reason why the burden of providing for down and out “booze fighters” or their families should not be borne by the liquor traffic. These individuals being the product of the saloon should be cared for by that institution.
A Reformatory Necessary—Some day, and in the no distant future, this State must have a reformatory where the better class of prisoners may be placed and thus avoid their being thrown in contact with the confirmed criminals at the penitentiary. Should the recommendation made as to the State Training School be followed that institution could be used as a reformatory to accommodate the said better class and overflow from the prison. The lands surrounding the institution could be farmed through the aid of this labor and the products distributed to such institutions as might be in need of them.
Home for the Aged—Figures obtained for the year 1911 show $236,272.23 to have been spent by the several counties in this State in the support of their poor. It is estimated that there are about 600 of these unfortunates now being cared for by the counties. This number could be cared for at a State institution for about one-half the said cost and receive much better treatment than many of them are now receiving. Should the tuberculosis sanatorium be abandoned, the buildings and grounds would afford an ideal location for such a home. The cost of maintaining the home would be apportioned to the several counties upon the basis of the number of inmates charged against each.
Home for Wayward Girls—There is a crying need for a home for wayward girls and a request which will be made at this session for the establishment of such an institution merits your earnest consideration.
PRIVATE SANITARIUMS AND CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS
All charitable institutions receiving State aid and all private sanitariums devoted to the care of the insane should be under State supervision and regulation.
TRANSPORTATION OF INSANE AND PRISONERS
The average per capita transportation cost based upon admissions during the biennium ending September 30, 1912, for the insane and prisoners was as follows: Convicts, $37.00; insane, $13.00.
It will be seen that it costs the taxpayers far more to transport a prisoner than it does an insane patient. This difference in cost is due to the fact that the insane are transported by attendants from the asylum while the prisoners are delivered at the prison by the sheriffs. The cost of transporting the insane is now only about one-half what it was when the work was being performed by the sheriffs. The transportation of prisoners should be placed with the prison authorities; or legislation of some kind should at least be adopted with a view of reducing the cost.
The State does not insure its property, for it is well able to carry its own insurance. However, it might be good business, and prevent sudden burdens from being thrown upon the taxpayers if an insurance fund was created through annual appropriations, to cover fire losses in the future.
I can see no good reason why the State should not engage in a general insurance business and would recommend that the appointment of a commission be provided for with a view of fully investigating the subject and submitting a bill to the people at the next election.
We still need good roads legislation. The people indicated through their votes at the last election that they were opposed to any but conservative action along these lines. We have made some headway during the past two years, and the way is open for further progress through the passage of legislation not inconsistent with the vote of the people at the said election.
The ocean beach from the Columbia River on the north to the California State line on the south should be declared a public highway.
USELESS OFFICES, APPROPRIATIONS AND LAWS
The taxpayers are being the burdens of many useless officials and appropriations and should be given relief. The Code contains many out-of-date and useless laws which should be repealed.
The practice of the past of submitting for your consideration blanket appropriation bills should be avoided. These bills should be reduced to the smallest practical unites in order that the members may have a better opportunity for considering the merits of each.
Our constitution should be amended so as to permit the Governor to veto any item in an appropriation bill. As the matter now stands useless appropriations are allowed to slip through for the reason that they are included in a bill carrying appropriations of merit.
Three tax amendments approved by the legislature were submitted to the people at the last election. Of these two were defeated and by a very small vote. Their defeat was not due to any particular opposition, but because of the great number of tax measures upon the ballot and the inability of many voters to distinguish them from others which they were anxious to defeat.
Similar measures should be again submitted, for they open the way for rational tax reform. The amendments should permit the adoption of the so-called “Michigan plan” of devoting the taxes collected from public service corporations to the support of the public schools. Such a plan would do away with the necessity of school districts levying a tax.
In this connection you should not allow the many burdens which will be thrown upon you to cause you to forget the needs of rural schools. Upon these schools we depend largely for the growth and development of our rural districts. Whatever contributes to their development adds to the wealth of our State.
It is the duty of the Board of State Tax Commissioners, in January of each year, to ascertain the total amount of money necessary for State purposes and to apportion the same among the several counties. In ascertaining this amount the law states that the board shall take into consideration all items of expense to which the State will be subjected under the existing laws, all deficiencies, including interest upon unpaid warrants, the current expense of the Oregon National Guard, the sum required for the support of the University of Oregon and the Oregon Agricultural College, and when such apportionment is made in an odd year that $200,000 shall be added to cover appropriations which may be made by the legislature for additional public buildings.
The system is all wrong as it fails to equalize the levy as between odd and even years. Last year the levy was in round numbers $3,000,000, this year $1,000,000. The board, following the law, has estimated the State expense for 1913 at $2,200,000. After deducting cash on hand, or which will be on hand, there is left a balance of about $1,000,000 to be raised by taxation.
Should the appropriations at this session place the expense for the biennium at the same figure as the last, viz., $5,600,000, there will remain the sum of $3,400,000 to be taken care of in 1914. Deducting $600,000.00, or the estimated amount of accumulated license and other fees, would leave $2,800,000 to be raised through direct taxation in 1914 as against about $1,000,000 this year.
To bring about greater equality as between odd and even years, the law should make it the duty of the State Board, consisting of the Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer, to prepare for the use of the Tax Commission a budget setting forth the amount which in its opinion would be necessary for the proper conduct of the State government. This would enable the board to base its levy upon actual needs and not upon useless standing appropriations, and would make possible far greater equality between years. And further it would place upon the State Board the responsibility of keeping a check upon expenditures and would make even an ambitious politician on the board a valuable asset, for, being held to account the taxpayers for all extravagant recommendations of levies, he would be inclined to be conservative.
This reform has long been needed. The matter is submitted with a hope that you will see your way clear to approve the suggestion.
Most important among the questions which affect the interests of the laboring classes in this State is the proposed compensation act. Just compensation to an injured workman or his family is right in principle. The measure proposed was drafted only after painstaking investigation by representatives of the different interests involved. These different interests each had to give and take a little in order to construct a measure which would work for the common good. It is easy to find fault with a measure of this kind, but so long as it is founded upon sound principles minor objections should be waived in order that the bill may become a law and given a trial. Its shortcomings, should any exist, will develop and can easily be taken care of in the future.
A minimum wage bill will also be presented for your consideration. The bill is aimed primarily to protect the working girls of this State in a living wage. Such a law would fill a long-felt want and would go far to remove conditions which often drive deserving, but helpless, girls to lives of shame.
It appears that the eight-hour law passed at the last election was without an enacting clause and will therefore be of no effect. I would, therefore, suggest that a new bill covering the eight-hour feature of the said bill be passed at this session.
The Labour Commissioner in his report has called your attention to the needs of labor in this State and I hope you may find time to look carefully into his recommendations.
WIDOWS’ PENSION BILL
A measure providing for the pensioning of widows will be presented at this session. The bill appears to possess much merit and deserves your earnest consideration.
AUDITOR OF MUNICIPAL ACCOUNTS
This State needs an auditor of public accounts. A good man in this position would each year save the cost of his office many times over. AS matters stand today millions of dollars are being expended annually by public officials and practically without supervision. This failure on our part to throw proper safeguards around such expenditures opens the way for waste and graft.
Legislation providing for a uniform system of accounts throughout the several counties should be passed and measures along these lines will be offered for your consideration.
WATER POWER AND IRRIGATION POSSIBILITIES
The federal government has indicated its willingness to appropriate $50,000, to be spent, with a like sum to be appropriated by the State, in the investigation and development of the water power and irrigation possibilities along the Deschutes River. The subject is fully covered in the reports of the State Engineer and the State Conservation Commission. This is a matter which deeply concerns the future development and prosperity of the State and I sincerely hope the movement will have your support.
The Conservation Commission in its report has also called your attention tot eh long standing neglect of our mineral resources . The Commission makes many valuable suggestions which are worthy of your consideration.
Aided by the State Land Board I have been negotiating with the Federal government for the exchange of all scattered school sections within the boundaries of the Federal forests in this State for a compact body of timber. Should the trade now under negotiation be carried through, it will result in the State securing title to some very desirable lands, and will go far in making our State school of forestry rank with the best of the nation. A plan for the administration of this State forest will be submitted for your approval.
COOS BAY WAGON ROAD GRANT
Congress by an act of March 3, 1869, granted to the State of Oregon certain lands to aid in the construction of a military wagon road from the navigable waters of Coos Bay to Roseburg, in this State. The lands granted were alternate sections of public lands, designated by odd numbers, to the extent of three sections in width on each side of said road. It was provided that the lands granted should be exclusively applied to the construction of said road and that no other purpose and should be disposed of only as the work progressed. It was further provided that the grant was made on condition that the land should be sold in quantities not to exceed one-quarter section to any one person, and at the price not to exceed $2.50 per acre.
On October 22, 1870, an act was passed by the legislature of this State granting to the Coos Bay Wagon Road Company “all lands, rights-of-way, rights, privileges and immunities heretofore granted or pledged to the State by the act of congress heretofore cited, for the purpose of aiding said company in constructing the road mentioned and designated in said act of congress, upon the conditions and limitations therein prescribed.”
On the 4th day of February, 1908, the government brought suit against the Coos Bay Wagon Road Company, or rather its successor the Southern Oregon Company, to forfeit to the government, the lands embraced within this grant. No trial or hearing has yet been had in the case.
I wish to submit for your consideration the following:
1. That the State and not the government is the proper party to bring suit to recover these lands.
2. That the provision in the Federal grant that the lands should not be sold in quantities to exceed 160 acres to any one person and for a price not exceeding $2.50 per acre, are self-executing limitations upon the power of the State of Oregon to alienate the lands embraced within the grant.
3. That the act of the legislature of October 22, 1870 should not be construed as a conveyance of the title of the lands in question from the State to the Wagon Road Company, but merely in the nature of an equitable assignment of the proceeds to be derived from the future sales of the lands in accordance with any act of congress.
4. That any attempted violation of the Federal grant by the State of Oregon, being an unconsummated act, could not be made the basis of a claim for forfeiture by the United States.
5. That the State is entitled to resume the administration of this grant and, in accordance with the provisions of the act of congress of March 3, 1869, proceed with the enactment of laws necessary for the disposition of the lands.
6. That the State of Oregon in resuming the administration of this grant should ascertain the amount that would have been derived from the sales of the lands at the time of the grant, had the terms of the act been complied with, also taxes paid by the Wagon Road Company and supervisory expenses incurred, in order that the said company may be reasonably reimbursed and justly dealt with.
The Governor is admonished by the Constitution to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, but neither the Constitution nor the statutes give him adequate authority to execute this command. It is true that he may call the militia to his aid in the execution of the laws, but this is an extraordinary power which it should be necessary opt exercise only upon grave and extraordinary occasions. The Governor should not be forced to use the artillery of the State to bombard bootleggers or pursue blind pigs.
The governor should not be expected to go out and gather evidence and arrest and prosecute offenders. That is a function which should be performed by subordinate officials chosen for and charged with that particular duty. If these officials fail to perform their duty, the Governor, being charged with the enforcement of the law, should have some suitable reserve powers which would enable him to call them to account. He should have power to remove them, at least temporarily. Such a power would have a wholesome effect upon delinquent officials, while in no manner embarrassing those who faithfully perform their sworn duty.
Our liquor laws should be strengthened as follows:
Shipments of liquor of any kind into dry territory, except under certain restrictions, should be prohibited.
The sale of near beer should be prohibited in dry counties.
No license for the sale of liquor should be issued to anyone doing business outside of an incorporated city or town.
Saloons should be kept closed Sundays, and on week days between the hours of say 11 o’ clock at night and seven o’ clock in the morning.
No saloons should be permitted in or about a railroad station.
All saloons should have open or glass fronts; all chairs and card tables should be prohibited.
Saloons should not be permitted to cash checks.
Illegal sale of liquor by druggists should work a forfeiture of license to do business.
The several measures recommend by the Portland Vice Commission should be given State-wide application and stringent laws as to the sale of cocaine, morphine and similar drugs should be enacted; also laws which will better enable us to abate nuisances through injunction proceedings.
Degenerates and the feeble-minded should not be allowed to reproduce their kind. Society should be protected from this curse. Our asylums and our prisons are being populated afresh through such parentage. We confine the vicious and the irresponsible for a while, only to send them forth to blight the future by the creation of defective children that grow into the criminal or the imbecile.
Society is crying for protection and this protection should be given. False modesty, in the past, has caused us to speak softly and to handle this subject with gloved hands. Recent disclosures have emphasized the fact that the time has come to speak aloud.
The State has been shocked by the recent exposures as to degenerate practices. But this is an old story to those who deal with our jails and our asylums. Should you gentlemen desire to investigate this subject I would refer you to the superintendents of the penitentiary and the asylum.
But do not delude yourselves with the idea that these conditions are confined within the walls of our prisons or asylums. These degenerates slink, in all their infamy, through every city, contaminating the young, debauching the innocent, cursing the State.
Two remedies are needed—one of prevention, another of cure. We have been session to session been considering the first. We should now act upon the two.
Sterilization and emasculation offer an effective remedy. I would recommend, therefore, that a statute be enacted making it the duty of our State penal and eleemosynary institutions to report all apparent cases f degeneracy to the State Board of Health. It should be made the duty of the said board to cause investigation to be made and, if the findings warrant, to cause such operations to be performed as will give society the protection it deserves.
“BLUE SKY” LAW
A “Blue Sky Law” proposed at the last election failed to pass, not because the voters were opposed to such protective legislation, but because it apparently created a new office and carried an appropriation.
This is a question which merits your careful attention and I earnestly hope you will favor legislation which will drive from our State the many bogus concerns which are preying upon our citizens.
It should not be forgotten, however, that the passage of such an act will throw a vast amount of work and investigation upon someone and the work cannot be carried on successfully without a reasonable appropriation.
A law to regulate the business of “loan sharks” has been prepared and will be submitted to you for your approval. Such a law has long been needed in this State and I earnestly hope one may be adopted at this time.
COUNTY FAIRS AND SALARIES
The present system of making appropriations for support of county fairs is not only unscientific but leads to much log-rolling in the legislature. An equitable system whereby each county would receive just treatment should be worked out and substituted for the present indefensible method. Some new system should also be adopted with a view of equalizing the salaries of the different county officers and do away with the practice of continually applying to the legislature for increases.
The passage of a law throwing restrictions around the carrying of concealed weapons do much to prevent crime in this State.
The man who carries a revolver usually does so because he expects to have occasion to use it and if he continues to carry one it is only a question of time until he does use it. To reduce the number of revolvers carried means to reduce murders and hold-ups.
APPROPRIATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY FOR PUBLIC USE
The Constitution says that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation. By just compensation is meant the value of the property. The law also says that such property shall be assessed at its full cash value. Yet we find the State and municipalities called upon in condemnation proceedings to pay for a needed piece of property many times its assessed value.
This condition of affairs should not be allowed to exist. The assessed value should be more of a guide to the price which the public should pay. It should not under any circumstances be obliged to pay more than double the assessed value and the passage of a law to this effect would result in a great saving for the taxpayers of the State.
The office of State Immigration Agent and the State Immigration Board should be consolidated. With the coming of the Panama Canal there will be much work for this board to do. The next few years will decide whether our State is to receive an increased population of desirable or undesirable citizens. The flood-gates of Europe are soon to be thrown open and it will be the work of the Immigration Board to see that the stream which flows toward this State carries as many farmers and home-builders as possible.
The committee appointed in accordance with an act of the last legislature to select a site for Oregon’s buildings at the coming San Francisco Exposition met with kindly treatment at the hands of the good people of California. Oregon was especially favored in that she was given the first choice of the offered sites and it is to be hoped that there will be erected thereon a building which will be admired by all.
This exposition will undoubtedly prove the greatest of all expositions and will redound to the benefit of the entire west. The Pacific Coast states in particular will profit and each in proportion to its activities in bringing to the attention of the visitors its wonderful resources.
A liberal appropriation should be made that Oregon may make a showing in keeping with her wealth and resources, and thereby reap her full share of the benefits to be derived from the exposition.
DIRECT ELECTION OF SENATORS
There will be presented for your consideration and approval a resolution of Congress proposing an amendment to the Constitution providing that Senators shall be elected by the people of the several states. I earnestly hope that this amendment will receive your endorsement that the people of the several states may at least enjoy the privilege of choosing their own senators.
I wish to invite your attention to the California System of holding divided sessions of the legislature. The system appeals to me as having much merit, as it affords the members a reasonably opportunity to examine the many bills presented for their consideration.
THE OREGON SYSTEM
Oregon’s system of popular government, having successfully withstood the attacks of its enemies, is here to stay. The time has come therefore when its friends should take steps to remove such defects as a fair trial has shown to exist.
None but registered voters should be permitted to sign initiative or referendum petitions. Each petition should have a precinct heading and signatures should be taken accordingly. This would enable county clerks to quickly check the signatures and when necessary certify the list for the Secretary of State. As the matter now stands it is physically impossible for the Secretary of State to check the signatures on the petitions filed in his office. Bogus signatures can be filed with impunity, and such a condition is equivalent to the nullification of all safeguards which the framers of the law attempted to throw around it to prevent its abuse. This matter merits your careful attention and consideration.
In conclusion, gentlemen, I desire to congratulate you upon the promptitude of your organization and upon your very evident earnestness and intention to give to the people of the State an energetic and business-like session. In past years much time has been lost during the first week of the session and I trust that the pace you are now settling will not falter during the remainder of the forty days.
And in this connection I call your attention to the past scramble and chaos during the closing days of the session. This is unnecessary, and, for the good of your record and of the people and laws of the State should be avoided.
Before leaving my message with you, permit me to express my every confidence in this, the Twenty-Seventh Legislature. I believe that it is your intention and desire, and will be your effort, to give to the people of Oregon a session which the members of past legislatures may envy and after which those of the future may pattern. It is said to be your purpose to reduced the volume of our present statutes, rather than to increase it. This purpose alone, if intelligently adhered to, will make your record a monument tin the history of the State.
In anything you do, or attempt to do, in the interest of the taxpayers and for the good of the people of Oregon, I pledge you the untiring effort, co-operation and influence of the executive office in the present, and its unswerving championship during the two years to come. I assure you of my appreciation of your most courteous attention.