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abandoned the emergency clause, leaving the whole bill subject to referendum petition. A referendum petition was filed, but thereafter neglected. No further contest was made against the appropriation bill and it was approved at the general election in 1906. But it stopped the practice of logrolling many appropriations into one bill. The legislature of 1907 obeyed the constitution in that respect.
General Election, 1906. The people approved four amendments to the constitution proposed by initiative petitions; extending the reservation of the initiative and referendum powers to all local, special and municipal legislation; referendum against items, parts and sections of any bill; granting home rule to cities and towns in all their municipal affairs, free from interference by the legislature and limited only by the constitution and criminal laws of the State; allowing one legislature to propose amendments to the constitution (the former provision required the proposal by two consecutive legislatures) and requiring the governor to decide and proclaim whether an amendment is adopted, following the Maine and Maryland constitutions in that respect; granting greater legislative power over the State printing and compensation therefor; enacted two corporation tax laws and an anti-pass law, but the latter was void because the enacting clause was forgotten.
Proposed by Initiative Petition and Rejected. A constitu'tional amendment for woman suffrage; a bill to sell the State a toll road for $24,000 on which the promoters were making a profit of $16,000; a bill proposed by the liquor dealers to amend the local option law.
These measures were prepared by six different organizations; the State Grange had two, The People's Power League five, and the others one each.
In 1904, Portland granted a franchise to a new telephone company on municipal initiative petition. The city council had refused to grant it, though better terms were offered the city than ever before.
In 1907, the people of Portland, at their municipal election, voted on nineteen charter amendments and ordinances under their initiative and referendum powers. Most of the measures were proposed by the council. A number of proposals for franchise grants have been abandoned since 1905 because of threats of the referendum. Many cities have amended or rejected proposed amendments to their charters, some offered by initiative petition and some by the city councils.
The legislature of 1907, under its new power, submitted four amendments to the constitution; one to change the general election from June to the date of November congressional elections; one authorizing legislation for the improvement of the judicial system; one to increase the pay of legislators from $120 to $400 for a regular session and one to allow the people to establish State institutions at other places than the State capital.
Four referendum petitions have been filed against acts of the legislature; one against a bill appropriating $100,000 to build armories; one against a bill denying the right of eminent domain to railroads which do not agree to carry State officers free of charge; one against a bill which would result in increasing the profits of the sheriff's office in counties of 50,000 population and over; one against a standing appropriation of $125,000 for the State university. As to the latter, it is a positive expression of what used to be the very general feeling that those wanting the higher education should pay for it, and that the State does its full duty when it teaches the "three Rs." The appropriation is not the result of anything like previous log-rolling combinations, and is very moderate if the State is to maintain a university at all. It is to be hoped that this appropriation will be approved by a great majority of the voters, and a vigorous educational campaign is to be made for it.
Initiative petitions are in preparation for constitutional amendments as follows: woman suffrage; exempting from taxation factories, machinery, and residence buildings, but not
land or lots on which they are situated; authorizing enactment of laws for proportional representation and majority elections; for the recall against public officers.
Initiative petitions for statute laws: a bill for a salmon fisheries law; a bill instructing the legislature to elect for United States senators those candidates selected by the people at their general elections; a corrupt practices law modeled on the British acts of 1883 and 1895, but also providing for the circulation of campaign literature partly at the public expense.
It is probable that there will be fifteen important measures on the ballot for the voter's approval or rejection next June.
The people have abolished party bosses and political machines; made the liquor question and prohibition a purely local issue; increased the legislature's respect for the constitution; greatly injured, but not yet destroyed, the legislative log-rolling industry; taken municipal affairs out of the legislature; taxed some corporations that were dodging; in the matter of amendments to the constitution, greatly increased the power and responsibility of the legislature and governor; under the efficient leadership of prominent teachers of the State, the high schools are debating the nominating elections law, proportional representation, people's direct election of United States senators and other live problems in representative government; for the first time in American history the school teacher is taking his rightful place as an educator in the science of government, instead of being a victim in the game of politics; the high schools of Washington are debating whether their State should adopt the initiative and referendum provisions of the Oregon constitution; the voters of the State and cities are taking an interest in their government far greater than ever before, and growing rapidly to the full measure of their power and responsibility.
The people of Oregon have learned that to get the best re
sults they must do their own governing every day. They know that government is human, not mechanical; that the election of good men for officers is not like winding a clock, which may be safely left to do its work, needing only to be wound again at set times. The voters of Oregon realize that government is rightly named the Ship of State; the governing is like sailing a ship in this, that to steer a straight course they must hold the helm and control their officers all the time.
There is fear of the initiative now among some of the men who helped to establish the system in Oregon, because the people could abuse the power. Officers have been known to abuse power. They say, What may the people not do? But fear is the only sign of such a danger. Capitalized vice, political grafting, legislative log-rolling and corporate tax dodging, thus far, are the only industries in Oregon to confess injury from the people's use of the initiative and referendum powers.
It is probable that some day our initiative plan will be improved by allowing the legislature opportunity to offer a competing measure, both to be submitted to the people at the same election. Hon. Geo. H. Shibley of Washington, D. C., made this suggestion last year. But as to repealing either the initiative and referendum powers, there is only one opinion in Oregon.
60. PRIMARY VS REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT.
What is the significance of this widespread dissatisfaction with our legislative bodies and the growing movement toward a greater participation by the people themselves in the details of law-making? Does it indicate a general breakdown of representative government and a return to the ancient principle of primary democracy? In the following selection Professor J. W. Garner discusses the question as to how far the people may safely participate directly in government: .
In determining the extent to which direct participation of the people in government is practicable or desirable, we must take into account their general intelligence, the character of
the service which they are called upon to perform, and the resulting benefits considered from the standpoint both of administrative efficiency and social uplift. If the service consists merely in the selection of those public officials whose offices are political rather than administrative or judicial in character, there is a general concurrence of opinion that a wide popular participation may be safely permitted if the electorate possesses a fair degree of intelligence and virtue. This is so because no special knowledge derived from study, experience or discussion is required to perform the service intelligently and the resulting benefits to the electorate both through education and stimulation of interest in public affairs are of great importance. More important still such participation is necessary to preserve the popular character of the government and prevent it from becoming a bureaucracy.
If the service of the elector consists in passing judgment upon the merits of untried legislative or administrative projects (as opposed to concrete results already attained), a higher degree of intelligence is, of course, required, in the absence of which there must be a loss of efficiency, though the moral and educational benefits to the electorate on account of being permitted to share in the service may outweigh the disadvantage.
But manifestly there is a point beyond which popular government produces an inefficiency which is out of all proportion to the resulting educational advantages to the electorate. When this point is reached the primary system must yield to the representative system. An electorate of average intelligence may very properly be given a veto upon legislative projects of a simple and purely local character, especially if such propositions involve the imposition of extraordinary pecuniary burdens, but it is quite another thing to permit every dissatisfied class in the state to formulate legislative projects which are complex in character and general in scope, compel a referendum on their schemes and have them put into force upon an affirmative vote of an electorate a large propor