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No Act shall take effect until ninety days from the end of the session at which the same shall have been passed, except in case of emergency, which emergency shall be declared in the preamble or in the body of the law.
The members of the legislative assembly shall receive for their services a sum not exceeding three dollars a day from the commencement of the session, but such pay shall not exceed in the aggregate one hundred and twenty dollars per diem allowance for any one session."
Subject to these, or similar rules, which, being embodied in the Constitution, cannot be altered by the Legislature, and must be obeyed on pain of nullifying the proceedings, the Legislatures generally follow the lead set them by the practice of Congress. The system of devolution to committees prevails largely, with all its advantages and disadvantages. In some Constitutions the reference to the committee is made a necessary stage in the passing of a bill through either House.* The closure by previous question and the suspension of rules in order to facilitate business are also in constant use. One of the rules given above invites and compels a suspension—that which requires a bill to be read by sections on three separate days. No legislative assembly could endure the regular enforcement of such a rule, and emergency may be expected to be
By the Constitutions of six States no bill can be considered for passage unless it has first been referred to a committee and reported therefrom : in Texas the report must be presented three days before the adjournment of the Legislature.
chronic wherever such a rule prevails. The indispensable reading of a bill on its final passage is itself a grievous infliction on the House, and a vicious waste of time. In Minnesota every bill must be read twice at length in order to pass. The reading of an elaborate city charter bill in a State Legislature is a sight to be remembered. The members betake themselves to reading, writing, talking, anything but listening, while the clerk hurries over the technical clauses in an undertone which permits many omissions. The rule utterly fails in its purpose, which may be presumed to be that of securing the attention of the House to every word of the bill. Much more efficient is the closure by stoppage of payment under such a rule as that which provides that the salaries of the representatives shall not continue beyond the period of forty days. Under that rule the session is likely to last forty days, and not a day longer. Whether the rule is a wise one is another matter. When it is remembered that a State Legislature is even less under the guidance of regular party leadership than Congress is, that its members are less practised in public affairs, while the interests intrusted to it are equally, if not more vital, the dangers of such a system will become apparent. It necessarily involves hasty and inconsiderate legislation, while it facilitates schemes of jobbery or fraud. In some States the Constitution provides that no bill shall pass which has not been introduced a certain number of days before the close of the session,-obviously a very im
perfect remedy. If there were no great pressure of business in these Legislatures, the curtailment of their sittings would be an unmixed advantage; but an average State Legislature is probably just as much overburdened with legislative proposals as Congress itself. Most of them produce a goodly volume of statutes at the close of the session, and even in a minor State the bills presented in a forty days' session may equal the number of those submitted to the House of Commons in an ordinary year.*
* The following statement shows the constitutional provisions regarding the time and duration of the session in different States and Territories. In Rhode Island the Legislature meets twice a year; in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, once a year ; in Vermont, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Arkansas, Oregon, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Delaware, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Texas, California, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Washington Territory, Dakota, Montana, Arizona, once in two years. The session is limited to sixty-one days in Indiana ; to forty days in Colorado and Georgia; to sixty days in Minnesota, Kentucky, Arkansas, Nevada, Florida, Louisiana, and the Territories; to ninety days in Maryland and Virginia ; to fifty days in Alabama ; to forty-five days in West Virginia. Payment of members stops, either wholly or partially, after seventy-five days in Tennessee, seventy days in Missouri, sixty days in Texas and California, and forty days in Oregon. Besides the regular sessions, extra sessions may be called by the Governor. For a more detailed statement, see Stimson's “Digest of American Statute Law.”
THE SYSTEM AS A HOME RULE SETTLEMENT.
LET us now look at the system as a political settlement on the basis of Home Rule. Its leading and essential features may be summed up as follows :
1. The Federal Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, enumerates the subjects with which Congress may deal. This enumeration precludes the State Legislatures from dealing with these subjects, if Congress chooses to act, but not otherwise. All matters which are not expressly or by implication withdrawn from the States under this rule are reserved to the States. The matters expressly set aside as proper for Congressional action have been already set forth. *
The enumeration is, or ought to be, founded on a discrimination between (to use our own phrase) imperial and local affairs. So far as appears, there is no complaint that the classification is other than a fair and proper one.
2. The Federal Constitution, besides withdrawing certain matters from the State Legislatures, imposes, even in respect of the matters reserved to them, certain important restrictions on their action.
* See page 12.
3. All these exclusions and restrictions are enforced by the Federal judiciary, which, from the Home Rule point of view, is perhaps the most important part of the constitutional system. A portion of it—the Supreme Court—is directly created by the Constitution, and therefore irremovable by Congress; the rest of it —the Circuit and District Courts—are statutory and dependent on Congress. The judicial power of the United States, as defined by the Constitution, has jurisdiction in two main classes of cases : those which arise under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States, or which affect the international relations of the United States, and those in which there is a difference of citizenship between the parties.* The law applied by the Federal judiciary is that of the State when the subject-matter is within the competency of the State Legislature, and as a rule it will follow the decisions of the State tribunals as implicitly as the enactments of the State Legislature.
4. Behind the Federal courts of course stands the executive force of the United States Government. It is a power in reserve rather than in presence. A very few officers are attached to each Federal court. The ordinary police power is entirely in the hands of the State authorities. Yet the Federal court which may have occasion to issue decrees directly in the teeth of the enactments of the State Legislature and the public opinion of the State, is as certain of being obeyed as are the tribunals of the State itself. Practically the
* See page 90.