Governor James Withycombe's Administration
Governor's Message, 1919
Source: MESSAGE Of JAMES WITHYCOMBE Governor of Oregon, To the Thirtieth Legislative Assembly Regular Session 1919
MESSAGE Of James Withycombe Governor of Oregon, To the Thirtieth Legislative Assembly 1919
To the Members of the Thirtieth Oregon Legislative Assembly:
In extending a warm greeting to you all, I can assure you that I approach this pleasant opportunity with a full heart and with a candid desire for wholesome cooperation.
SITUATION WITHOUT PRECEDENT
It is your responsibility to lay the foundation for a partnership between state and nation in the matter of rearranging public affairs and institutions to meet a situation that has borne no parallel since the birth of this commonwealth. In many of the serious questions which will be put forward during the next forty days, you will have no precedents to guide you. Though living in the present day and participating in contemporary events, you will, in a certain positive sense, be pioneers, and you will, therefore, be obliged to face your work courageously and with a vision that carries you above partisanship and beyond the restricted limits of sectional antagonism and personal ambition. I have no hesitation in expressing full confidence in your integrity, honestly of purpose, wisdom and farsightedness.
VISION IS NEEDED
This message was prepared in harmony with custom and in accordance with my constitutional duty as chief executive of this state. It will deal only with those matters which appear to me, after retrospection of a four years’ administration, as affecting the best interests of the whole state at a time when many large developments are in the process of incubation. Let us endeavor to look ahead with a vision that will detect all possibilities, mobilizing our best thoughts and energies in the hope of rendering the maximum degree of service. As architects planning for the future through legislative enactments it is your task to draw up such specifications as will represent the true sentiment of Oregon citizenship.
It is no necessary for me to remind you of Oregon’s preeminent patriotic record and of the importance of preserving her prestige by reconstruction legislation that will ring true to the Oregon standard of excellence. Surely no living Oregonian worthy of the name can be unconscious of pride in the past and ambition for the future.
Oregon, blessed with generous, patriotic people, contributed far more than her proportionate share to the great trinity of war necessities—men, money and materials. She responded with alacrity to every call for patriotic endeavor and time after time was first of all states in support of the country’s cause.
It will never be said of Oregon that she thought more highly of her dollars than of the destiny of her noblest sons. Therefore, every effort possible will be made to provide proper care for the boys returning from the service. The general subject should not be approached in a spirit of common charity. It does not involve charity but rather duty and debt.
LAND SETTLEMENT PROBLEMS
Probably the most important problem confronting the people of Oregon today is the question of land settlement, especially as it affects the returning soldiers and sailors who are entitled to every encouragement as they return to civil life. Whatever plan may be adopted by the legislature must offer something tangible and must be practical. Fortunately you have an opportunity to develop Oregon on a business-like basis at the same time you are furnishing assistance to returning service men and to citizens generally.
There are four phases of land settlement work to be considered: the clearing of logged-off lands, the reclamation of irrigated lands, the drainage of swamp lands, and the subdivision of farms in humid sections.
Congress will undoubtedly make some provision for federal assistance in this work, but it will probably be conditional upon state cooperation. This will, of course ,involve a new system of financing. Under our present six per cent limitation there is only one way, as I view it, that we could undertake this enterprise, and that would be through a rational bonding system which would meet with the approval of the electorate of the state.
We have approximately 2,000,000 acres of privately owned logged-off land in Oregon, much of it being excellent agricultural soil. This land should be purchased by the federal government or the state, divided into organized districts, improved and allotted in units to prospective settlers. These settlers should be required to make a reasonable initial payment and to meet the unpaid balance on long-term installments at a low rate of interest following the amortization plan.
Oregon logged-off land will cost about $100.00 per acre to be cleared. This would offer a splendid field for cooperative work between the federal and state governments. Large numbers of men could be employed to clear the land under modern methods and part of their earnings retained as partial payment for cleared land.
Since the logged-off lands are now owned by private individuals, it might be feasible for the federal government to acquire the stump land by exchanging timber in the forest reserve on an equitable basis to be determined between the government officials and the owners of the logged-off lands. The federal government has about 14,000,000 acres of timber land in the Oregon forest reserve and much of this timber is now ready for the market.
Irrigation projects should also be districted, the land subdivided into units and the same system of financial aid followed in establishing the farms and herds and erecting the necessary buildings, including a modern inexpensive home. A similar plan could be followed in the drainage of swamp lands.
PRESENT COMMISSION HONORARY
Oregon has undertaken the subdivision of farms in a voluntary way through the services of the honorary Oregon land settlement commission, which was appointed by me a year ago. . I suggest that this commission be made permanent by proper statutory enactment and furnished funds to work with.
The administration of the work in irrigated sections should be left with the desert land board, but the work of subdividing the farms and the settling of the logged-off lands as well as the drainage districts should, I believe, be under the administration of the Oregon land settlement commission.
The natural aptitude of the prospective settler and his experience in farm work must be considered constantly in a study of this question, for, in developing any farm unit, much will depend upon the occupant himself, particularly his desire to develop the property and his application to the work. For this reason great care should be exercised in selecting as settlers only practical farmers or those who show likely promise of developing into successful farmers.
The legislative committees formulating land settlement legislation will, no doubt, derive considerable profit from a careful study of “The Soldier Settlement Act,” suggested by Secretary of the Interior Lane and from conference with members of the Oregon land settlement commission, who have given the subject much constructive thought, and who have placed Oregon at the forefront of the nation in this important work.
Machinery must be set officially in motion to place available positions at the disposal of returning service men and, in this connection, I commend to your legislative generosity the suggestion that preferential rights be granted them in contracts of employment on public work, such as highway construction. A state executive committee appointed by me some weeks since to arrange a proper reception for returning fighters is preparing a census of available positions and doubtless a reasonable appropriation will be asked to finance its worthy endeavors.
I feel that steps should be taken toward the compilation of a reliable, permanent history of Oregon’s participation in the world war so that the achievements of our boys can be preserved to posterity. The state librarian, having been appointed by the council of defense as state war historian, has undertaken this work on a comprehensive and thoroughly practical plan. I suggest that a suitable appropriation be set aside for this commendable purpose. There will be other ways of honoring and perpetuating the memory and deeds of the Oregon soldiers and sailors, and no doubt this legislature will exercise the pleasant duty of determining upon an official state memorial.
In my last message, addressed to the 1917 legislative assembly, I urged the adoption of legislation extending the electoral franchise to soldiers who may be absent from the state while engaged in the service of their country. For obvious reasons it may not be possible to amend our primary and election laws so that men serving in a foreign land could cast their ballot under all circumstances, but in fairness to the men, consideration should at least be given to the possibility of inaugurating a system of direct mail voting that would not interfere with military efficiency. Surely these men, though temporarily absent from home, are as much citizens as ever, and the very reason for their absence makes our obligation toward them the stronger. Soldiers on active duty are also entitled to their other civil rights and to protection in the form of moratorium for a reasonable time after their return.
It is not generally understood by the people of this state that there is now no penalty in Oregon for treason. Before the abolition of capital punishment conviction of this crime brought the death penalty, but today there would be no way to enforce that sentence and the law on the subject has never been amended. To be sure, offense of this kind come more properly within federal jurisdiction, but the atmosphere of Oregon is too purely American to tolerate such an omission, and I feel that this legislature would be justified in taking up this and kindred subjects of legislation.
Circumstances might arise where the federal law could not reach the traitor or the defamer, and it would be unfortunate to allow failure of justice because the state itself had been remiss. Now while the poisonous influences of sedition and sabotage are fresh in our minds it might be well to set down in the statutes Oregon’s appraisal of I.W.W.ism and other forms of disloyalty, so that there may never be any misunderstanding as to the degree of punishment Oregon courts and Oregon juries would mete out to disloyal persons.
Now that the war will soon be history, our minds naturally turn again toward a study of the possibilities of trade development. We must look squarely toward the horizon with a large vision for the development of Oregon. Our constant aim and ideal should be determine how the tremendous natural resources of Oregon can most effectively be placed to the uses of the hand of man.
This state has been extravagantly endowed by nature with an abundance of natural wealth awaiting development. The latent potential wealth of Oregon defies calculation, but we do know that there are at least 420,000,000,000 board feet of timber and at least 3,500,000 hydro-electric horsepower undeveloped, enough energy to operate the industrial plants of all New England. There are also approximately 2,000,000 acres of arid land that should be reclaimed.
The whole Pacific Northwest territory is tributary to Oregon, representing 250,000 square miles of the finest timber, agricultural and mineral lands of the world, and not only is this vast domain tributary to eh ports of Oregon, but it literally gravitates toward these ports.
This situation, in its true essence, demands a strong merchant marine managed by Oregon me and manned by Oregonians. If we are to harvest Oregon’s full crop we must look toward a development of commercial as well as industrial and agricultural resources . Our great problem today is to cerate stable markets for the product of Oregon forests and mines and of Oregon farms, gardens and orchards. We must decide how raw materials can be most advantageously assembled, manufactured and shipped in the form of finished products to the markets of the world. Only by proper expenditure of thought and effort can we hope to retain and properly promote all of our present industries and bring new industries that will furnish wholesome and profitable employment for a greater population of busy and contented people.
After painstaking consideration of the entire problem of development I have come to the conclusion that the prime factor is shipping, carriers being virtually the only important trade essential with which Oregon is not already endowed.
Therefore I earnestly recommend that this legislature dispatch a joint memorial to the congress of the United States strongly urging upon the federal government the advisability of building a large number of ships that could be chartered readily to the business men in coast states on terms that would enable them to compete successfully with any shippers in the world. I am satisfied that such a plan would be the means of establishing a magnificent national merchant marine system.
In support of this memorial every loyal Oregon citizen should direct his best effort toward the accomplishment of the desired end which all of us have in mind. If it is impossible to gain the proper cooperation with the federal government no time should be lost in devising such other ways and means as may prove to be the quickest and the surest to bring maximum results.
Due entirely to the exigencies of an unforeseen war and the accompaniment of unprecedented high prices the cost of maintenance of state institutions has been greatly increased, thus demanding expenditures much larger than would have been required under normal conditions. In this connection I frankly reiterate my conscientious conviction that the six per cent limitation is wrong in principle, as it restricts legitimate state activities in period of unusual emergencies. On the other hand, it is really not economical as it will inevitably result in a higher general level of taxation than is frequently necessary, due to the arbitrary practice of adding the six per cent regarding less the merit. Taxation should be flexible, capable of reasonable expansion to meet unusual emergencies and of severe restriction when an increased fund is not needed.
A capitalization of assets is not wastefulness; it is good business. If we are to mine the rich ore of undeveloped resources we must spend at least enough to put the shafts of production into operation.
The financial situation in Oregon is uncertain but it is by no means hopeless and I have faith in the ability of this legislature to solve the problem. We have just passed through a period marked by a severe drain on the treasury but we have learned, as never before, how to save and conserve and do without. Perhaps this idea of conservation, which has been stretched almost to the point of uniqueness, has become somewhat of a habit. If so, its wholesome benefits will continue, forming what might be called a blessing in disguise. In any event, let us be businesslike and as equitable as possible in our financing.
As a matter of business expediency permit me to invite attention toward the advisability of establishing the end of the fiscal year at July 1 rather than January 1, thus running the state ledger concurrently with the books of the federal government. Inasmuch as the working out of highway construction programs and the prospective land settlement arrangement between the state and national governments involves the element of financial cooperation, the possible advantages of the suggested amendment are manifest.
INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT COMMISSION
In passing from the subject of finance to a cursory purview of the departments of state coming indirectly within the jurisdiction of the executive department a ray of bright sunshine confronts us as we touch upon the largest and most important department, the industrial accident commission, which has grown amazingly since its establishment five years ago.
Under the law at present the state is required to contribute one-seventh of the funds received by the commission from employers and employees and, to suit this provision, and estimated contribution of $680,000.00 has been fixed in the 1919-1920 state budget. It has been suggested and will be recommended officially by the commission, I believe, that the law be changed so that the state be required to contribute only enough to defray the expenses of operating the commission, which are estimated at $300,000.00. It occurs to me that the financial affairs of the commission are now in such flourishing condition that it would be advisable, as well as altogether proper, to suspend state aid to the industrial accident fund entirely for the coming biennium and to authorize the commission to meet the administrative expenses during that period from the large unexpended surplus now lying in the fund.
GREAT SAVING POSSIBLE
Such a step would not only reduce the budget $680,000.00 by a single legislative stroke but would result in additional economy of approximately $30,000.00 a month for every month prior to July 1, 1919, that such an amendment to the law became effective. In other words, if the legislature passes the law which I most earnestly recommend and fortifies it with the emergency clause, making it operative as early as February 1, 1919, a saving to the state of about $830,000.00 would result without curtailing in any way the effectiveness of the commission. The suggested appropriation of $680,000.00 would be spent commencing July 1, 1919. Prior to that time state aid would probably average $30,000.00 monthly over the five months’ period between February 1 and July 1. Hence there would be an additional saving of about $150,000.00, providing an emergency is declared in passing the amendment now.
The industrial accident fund on December 31, 1918, the date of the last financial statement, showed a balance of $1,326,374.19. There was also due the fund, as of that date, the one-seventh state aid accruing since July 1, $168,498.45, making a total of $1,494,872.64 available in the general accident fund as of that date.
The estimated undetermined liability on December 31 was $467,779.00. The thirty per cent additional, as provided by section 19 of the compensation law, is $140,363.70, a total liability against the industrial accident fund of $608,363.70. The condition of the industrial accident fund as of December 31, therefore, was as follows;
Balance in fund $1,326,374.19
Due from state $168,498.45
Less liability and 30 per cent 608, 242.70
The state has paid into the industrial accident fund since the compensation law become effective a total of $606,867.76 as its one-seventh. The amount paid to the state during the calendar year 1918 exceeded $320,000.00 The estimated contributions to the fund during the next biennium by employer and employee will amount to $4,800,000.00, and the state’s contribution of one-seventh would amount to $680,000.00. Administrative expense alone would amount to approximately $300,000.00 for the two years.
The heavy unexpended surplus in the fund has resulted from the abnormal industrial conditions during the past two years. The amount of money paid into the industrial accident fund by the state, being established by statute at a sum equal to one-seventh of the amount paid into the fund by employer and employee, has been disproportionate and excessive.
It would perhaps be unwise to eliminate the state aid feature of the law permanently. For one thing a return to normal conditions might create a new situation. Then again there is strong likelihood that the workmen’s compensation law will be made compulsory for all classes of employment rather than elective for a limited class of employments, as at present, and I am frank to say that I earnestly favor an extension of the law. Such a measure would have to be submitted by your legislature or through the initiative to the people and it would therefore require probably two years’ time to make the innovation effective.
Other important matters suggest themselves in connection with the industrial accident commission. The department, employing as it does some ninety-one persons, is badly in need of larger quarters than are available in the Capitol building.
To my mind it would be well for the legislature to consider very seriously the advisability of erecting under the supervision of the commission a hospital for industrial cripples. At present large sums are expended by the commission a hospital for industrial cripples. At present large sums are expended by the commission for hospital care and this attention could, without doubt, be given more economically and more efficiently through a special building adapted particularly for handling accident cases. Portland being the industrial center, where a large proportion of the accident occur, I believe the proposed hospital should be located there, in conjunction with the buildings of the University of Oregon medical school; also I strongly urge that a branch of the accident commission hospital should be devoted to the care of indigent and crippled children, as well as other unfortunates meriting state assistance.
The increase in the number of accidents sustained in industrial establishments is little short of alarming. It is not enough for us to say that compensation is made for the loss of life and limb. Our workmen must be accorded every protection and comfort possible. In the last four years there have been 58,894 accidents in Oregon, 50 per cent of these occurring during the past year. Often as many as 100 accidents are reported a day, the logging camps and shipbuilding establishments being the most prolific accident producers.
I am glad to be able to say that the elimination of state aid from the industrial accident fund for the two-year period would still leave an adequate amount to finance the construction of a magnificent hospital building.
Oregon’s proud war record is traceable in part to the constant alertness and efficiency of the state military establishment. For the speed and accuracy with which the draft law was administered in this state the selective service department of the state adjutant general’s office deserves special praise, as do all the loyal-hearted Oregonians who worked hard and long assisting in the registration, classification and mobilization of the men of draft age.
I feel that the official thanks of the state are also due the thousands of men, women and children, of every rank and station in life, who gave willingly and generously of their time and effort in contributing to the success of the countless war drives, rallies, receptions, farewells and similar war activities. But for this unanimity of patriotic spirit Oregon could not have maintained her place at the forefront of the nation.
Nor can too much praise be accorded the members of the state guard companies and the home guard units, the latter being composed for the most part of business men who rendered valiant emergency service under the supervision of the respective county sheriffs.
Because both the state military code and the national defense act forbid the existence in peace times of military organizations which do not come within the jurisdiction of the war department, I deem it advisable to proceed with the organization of the Oregon national guard so that this establishment may be perfected by the time the prospective treaty of peace is signed. There are many arguments in support of cooperation with the federal government in military matters and the element of financial assistance is by no means the least of these considerations.
On the advice and specific recommendation of the state council of defense the Oregon military police force of approximately 200 experienced men was organized on the unanimous authority of the state emergency board in March, 1918. Despite the vicious criticism leveled against this organization by the lawless element, whose habits were rather rudely interrupted by the activities of the state police, and by many well-meaning citizens who were not informed truthfully, the Oregon military police performed an excellent service which fully justified the appeal of the state council of defense initiating the organization.
I recommend the establishment of a state constabulary of ten or fifteen men as a small mobile force for state police duty. Such an organization could render valuable service in the enforcement of the prohibition and game laws, and could materially aid preventing forest fires.
COUNCIL OF DEFENSE
The thanks of the entire commonwealth are due the state council of defense for its patriotic leadership for its patriotic leadership in publicity work during the recent emergency. The meetings arranged through this organization encouraged the people of this state to do their full share in the program of war activities and served to invigorate their patriotism with increasing healthfulness. Because of the distressing status of state finances the executive officials of the state council determined upon their own initiative some time ago that the council should cease to function on an active, paid basis after January 1, 1919, but I feel that the personnel of the state and county organizations should be kept intact and the activities continued on a voluntary basis, at least until after conditions have resumed their normal state.
The University of Oregon and Oregon Agricultural College have earned warm praise for the splendid work of their military departments in fitting the youth of the state for honorable and efficient participation in the war and for similar work related to the war program. The Oregon Normal School at Monmouth has done good work in preparing teachers and is entitled to continued support. Education is the foundation of our citizenship, therefore, appropriation to support these most worthy institutions is money well invested.
In company with all other states, Oregon is invited to cooperate with the federal government in what I consider a most worthy plan for the teaching of vocational training in the Oregon schools. The government offers to appropriate $40,813.18 for this purpose during the next two years if Oregon will expend a like amount. This plan is being administered under what is known as the Smith-Hughes act through the federal board for vocational education. The board appointed by me to represent Oregon in consideration of this subject will make its report to your body.
I also recommend that this legislature study the provisions of an educational bill now pending in congress, known as Senate Bill 4987. This measure contemplates state cooperation in banishing illiteracy and in spreading the benefits of Americanization among foreign born.
The administration of the selective service law revealed a distressingly large number of illiterates in the United States. Under the 1917 draft alone 700,000 men registered by marking X’s for their names. It is a pleasure for me to remark that a recent federal report announced Oregon’s rank among the forty-eight states as third in the scale of literacy, only two states, Iowa and Nebraska, ranking above her. Nevertheless the last federal census discredited Oregon with 10,504 illiterates and the fact that a new official ranking will be determined in the 1920 census, which will remain fixed for a full decade, suggests the importance of the subject.
Because most illiterates are beyond the school age the problem is admittedly difficult. A number of Oregon judges now require that men appearing before them for examination looking toward citizenship submit their wives also for educational test and this custom will no doubt lead to beneficial results in reaching those adults inclined to illiteracy. At the inspiration of the state department of education the teachers of the state are being encouraged to aid all residents who seek assistance in special subjects of education. Their generosity in this direction should be recognized.
Simply because our thoughts of late years have been concerned more or less exclusively with wartime and worldwide consideration we should not abate our efforts toward desired educational ends and should not lose sight of the fact that our schools constitute the best recruiting ground for patriotism as well as citizenship, and that they have a direct, almost decisive bearing on the future destiny of our state.
Two years ago I recommended the establishment of facilities for military training in the high schools, and intermediate events tend to strengthen the arguments in favor of this innovation.
I feel that commendation is due the child welfare commission, which has been performing excellent work in conjunction with the extension department of the University of Oregon. I respectfully suggest that a small appropriation be set aside to take care of the expenses of this welfare work. You have before you a very able and exhaustive report upon this subject, prepared by a representative of the Russell-Sage Foundation, for which the state is deeply grateful.
Since agriculture is our basic wealth and experimental data from the foundation of sound farm practices it is very important that we support as liberally as possible the experimental stations and extension department of our agricultural college, which are doing most excellent work. These activities are supported largely by the federal government and the state should cooperate generously in cultivating this great field of agricultural activity.
The prestige of Oregon as the most immaculate state of the nation in respect to the physical cleanliness of its selective service men speaks well for the efficiency of the state board of health and more particularly for the Oregon Social Hygiene Society, which seven years ago commenced to pioneer in its persistent fight against the venereal disease menace. This enviable showing not only proves the effectiveness of wholesome, dignified education on health subjects, but suggests increased benefits which may be expected from continued effort. It rests with us whether or not Oregon will continue to lead the nation.
I am hopeful that fair-minded committees of this legislature will make a careful examination of the state penitentiary and learn the real truth about a situation which ahs been made the football for politics, spiteful vengeances and deceiving manipulations. Although the physical status of the penitentiary property leaves much to be desired, I am well pleased with the administration of the institution under the first management of my own individual choosing. In a month the new warden has been amazingly effective in his work and I am confident that any one conversant with the actual conditions will concede readily that this penal institution is now being administered on a most satisfactory basis. Considering the responsible and exacting nature of his work, I feel that the warden is underpaid.
Above everything else the penitentiary needs a new cell house to correct deplorable sanitary conditions, to prevent possible disaster through fire and to permit a segregation of the inmates on a practical basis. If funds were available the construction of such a cell house would be a splendid investment, but because of the present disheartening status of state finances it may be necessary to defer for another two years this almost imperative improvement.
Due largely to the cleansing influence of prohibition the population of the penitentiary is now considerably lower than it has been for many years, but we must not lose sight of the fact that the abnormal industrial conditions resulting from the war have also been instrumental in reducing crime. Unless wages remain high and employment plentiful we may expect an increase rather than a further decrease in penitentiary population.
The past two seasons have been the most unfavorable, climatically, of the last forty years for the growing of flax, and for that reason the showing made by the state flax industry, operated in conjunction with the penitentiary, has not been as favorable as might have been expected under average conditions. Nevertheless the outlook is yet encouraging and the demonstration has been sufficient to satisfy those familiar with the industry that flax can be made a profitable crop.
Despite the unfavorable climatic conditions, the flax industry is now in good, healthy shape, as evidenced by its assets at the time of the biennial report, September 30, 1918, as follows:
Cash on hand $17,156.65
Invested in flax machinery, etc. $14,858.56
Truck and auto $3,000.00
Estimated value of materials on hand,
Including seed, fiber and tow $27,920.00
It is to be remembered that over $10,000.00 of the original appropriation was expended on the state rock crushing plant, through which a large amount of road building was done for the several state institutions.
From the time the flax industry came under state encouragement following the act passed by the 1915 legislature, up to September 30, 1918, farmers growing flax were paid $13,230.98 from the flax fund, and the prisoners working in the flax were paid $17,451.65 under the plan devised for providing employment for prisoners inside the penitentiary. During the month before my inauguration four years there were 160 men in the penitentiary without occupation. It has been my aim to keep the men regularly at work following those tasks for which they are best equipped. In the past four years virtually all prisoners physically able to work have been regularly employed.
In connection with this problem of keeping all prisoners employed regularly, I am frank to express my doubt as to the wisdom of the laws which prevent the sale of prison-made articles in competition with those manufactured by free labor. The population of the Oregon prison is so small that the effect of removing this restriction would at most have but a negligible influence on the labor market. When we consider that the taxpayers of Oregon are paying for the sustenance of the penitentiary inmates it seems shortsightedness to erect legal obstructions which serve to prevent them from earning their own way as nearly as possible during incarceration. A law granting the prison authorities a free hand to dispose of any commodities that may be produced advantageously by the prisoners would undoubtedly tend toward economy and lower upkeep, as well as toward a better morale among the men.
The present highway code is giving admirable results under the direction of a non-salaried commission composed of three men characterizing the highest type of citizenship and business ability. Oregon is at least following a definitely established and sane highway program which should be accorded a full trial without damaging interference.
With the federal, state and county funds available for expenditure on road work in this state, it is estimated that employment will be furnished for approximately 3,800 men during the coming season, a factor which will weight heavily in counterbalancing the prospect of unemployment resulting from after-the-war conditions.
Specifically, I favor the enactment of a law authorizing the highway commission to supervise the construction of a uniform system of road signs along all main highways of the state, the expense of the work to be paid from the automobile registration fees. So many serious accidents have occurred on grade crossings that I feel it might also be well for members of this legislature to consider the feasibility of passing a law requiring the drivers of both passenger automobiles and motor trucks to bring their vehicles to a complete stop before crossing railroad tracks outside the boundaries of cities and towns.
The insurance code enacted by the last legislature has apparently given satisfaction and should, I believe, be given further time to work out the various problems confronting the insurance business. This new law has been the means of practically doubling the income of the insurance department and I am further advised that a steady increase will be maintained. Some time ago a committee, consisting of policyholders, was appointed to investigate the fire insurance rates. Their report is now in my possession and I presume a copy will be handed to your committees on insurance. The wisdom of creating the fire marshal branch of the department has been demonstrated by the good results its workers have accomplished in reducing fire losses.
The corporation department also is entitled to commendation for the successful administration of its affairs and the economy of its maintenance. The so-called blue sky law has furnished the investing public with reasonable protection against the unscrupulous promoter and stock jobbers, but it has not obstructed the establishment and expansion of legitimate business enterprises.
FISH AND GAME
With some minor adjustments, which will be recommended to you by the commission itself, I believe the present law governing the activities of the fish and game commission is working satisfactorily. In connection with the work of this commission I desire to make two specific recommendations. I advocate the ceding of Malheur Lake and Mud Lake, in Harney County, to the Untied States government by the state for the purpose of creating a permanent wild bird refuge. I make this recommendation because I feel that Oregon, which contains some of the most important breeding grounds in the Untied States, should support the federal government in its laudable plan to furnish protection to migratory birds.
The plan of the federal government for the complete destruction of predatory animals is also commended to your favorable consideration and attention. If this plan were adopted by Oregon the present system of paying bounties for the killing of pests would be revoked in favor of a plan of state and national cooperation for wiping out the animals entirely. The federal government will match each dollar appropriated by the state for this purpose, and I suggest that Oregon follow the lead of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and Washington in accepting the assistance of the United States biological survey in this important movement, even though less than the amount which would otherwise be set aside for bounties is appropriated. Under the bounty plant eh animals easiest to reach are killed and large numbers are left to propagate. Instead of continuing bounties, I suggest, as an experiment, that the state appropriate $35,000.00 for the biennium to cooperate with the federal government in the extermination of predatory animals.
The state fair board deserves congratulation for the excellence of the commodious new stadium on the fair grounds and for the financial success of the last two fairs. I suggest that a reasonable fund be appropriated for the continuance of this department of practical education.
BUREAU OF MINES
The bureau of mines and geology has been doing splendid work in calling attention to the great mineral resources of the state. Until recently we have been somewhat derelict in promoting this great means of wealth. I suggest that this bureau be given proper financial assistance so that the mineral resources of this state may be developed in the largest possible way. In addition to the precious metals, Oregon is rich in clays that should be utilized at the earliest practical moment. Full development of mining and its allied industries would not only serve to bring large revenue to the state, but would also furnish employment to a large number of men.
The state agriculture and industrial exhibit at Portland should be continued, as it furnished an impressive and practical means of advertising the resources of the state. The exhibit should, I think, be placed in the hands of the Oregon land settlement commission with a reasonable appropriation for its continuance.
Agreeable to the instructions given me by the 1917 legislature under House Concurrent Resolution No. 11, a consolidation commission was appointed, the personnel representing a number of well known business men over the state in whom the general public has confidence. The recommendations of this commission will be considered by you in due course and it is hardly incumbent upon me to express an opinion either for or against any of the legislative topics suggested by this commission, as the report itself is addressed to the legislative assembly.
It will be my happy privilege to report to this legislature a communication received from the secretary of state of the United States certifying to the joint resolution passed by the congress of the United States which refers to the legislatures of the various states the question as to whether or not there shall be written into the constitution of the United States a law absolutely prohibiting the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors. I sincerely hope and firmly believe that you will, by proper, resolution, ratify this proposed amendment by an overwhelming if not unanimous vote.
In my address to the 1917 legislature I proposed that steps be taken toward the settlement of industrial disputes through the channels of arbitration and I am still of the same mind. It would be constitutional to create a state board of conciliation and arbitration, clothing it with sufficient powers to settle harmful controversies fairly and judiciously, and providing safeguards necessary to prevent the operation of prejudice against either labor or capital, I feel that the entire state would be benefited by such an enactment. Means should be provided, of course, to insure a full and faithful performance of the board’s decisions affecting either side of a given controversy.
CIVIL WAR VETERANS
I favor the enactment of a statute exempting from taxation the property of civil war veterans and their widows up to an assessed valuation of $2,500.00. A number of states have laws of this nature and I feel that Oregon should be willing to extend this simple recognition to the heroes and heroines of the civil war period.
In view of the fact that the attorney-general has been instructed by the state land board to proceed with what are known as the Pacific Live Stock Company land cases, it is my opinion that funds should be set aside by this legislature to continue the litigation now pending.
As this message is brought to a close, I beg to reassure you of my earnest purpose to cooperate with you in devoting full thought and energy toward painstaking and conscientious consideration of all legislative matters. May the Supreme Ruler endow us with adequate strength, vision, wisdom and courage and guide us through a legislative session marked by promptness, economy, accuracy and efficiency.