Imágenes de páginas


THE STATE LEGISLATURES. 669. Names.-The Legislature is the name generally applied to the law-making body of the State, but this is not always the constitutional name. In New Hampshire and Massachusetts, it is called the General Court; in North Dakota, Montana, and Oregon, the Legislative Assembly; in Maine, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and California, sixteen in all, the Legislature; in the other twenty-three States, the General Assembly.

670. Names of the Two Houses.-In Georgia from 1777 to 1789, in Pennsylvania from 1776 to 1790, and in Vermont from its admission into the Union to 1836, the Legislature consisted of a single house. But these are the only exceptions to the prevalence of the bicameral system. In all the States the upper house is called the Senate. In Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, the lower house is the House of Delegates; in California, Nevada, Florida, New York, and Wisconsin, the Assembly; in New Jersey, the General Assembly; and in the thirty-five other States, the House of Representatives. Previous to 1868 North Carolina called her lower house the House of Commons.

671. Terms of Senators and Representatives.-In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the senatorial term is one year; in New Jersey, three years ; in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Idaho, two years. In the remaining twenty-eight States, it is four years. In Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, the representatives hold one year; in Louisiana four years; in the other States two years.

672. Pay of Senators and Representatives.-In all cases this is the same for members of both houses. Sometimes it is fixed, or at least the maximum, by the constitution, but commonly by law. It ranges from a dollar a day and mileage at eight cents a mile, going and coming, in Rhode Island, to $1,500 a year and mileage at ten cents a mile, in New York.

673. The Number of Members.--This varies widely in the different States. It is either fixed by the State constitution, or it results from the application of a rule that the constitution prescribes. The number of senators varies from 9 in Delaware to 51 in Illinois; the number of repre sentatives from 21 in Delaware to 321 in New Hampshire ; under her amended constitution, New York has 50 senators and 150 assemblymen.

674. Apportionment.--The rule that is followed in the apportionment of members of the houses of legislation is population, but population as limited by town and county lines. In apportioning senators much closer attention is paid to such lines than in apportioning representatives. The widest departure from this rule is Vermont, where representatives have always been distributed among the towns equally, while senators are assigned to the counties according to their numbers. First constitutions always contain an apportionment of representatives, and often later ones ; and all the constitutions, with the exception of Delaware, provide for a periodical redistribution of members. Very definite rules relating to the matter are prescribed, and their application is enjoined upon some constituted State authority.

The common practice is to intrust this duty to the Legislature, but in Maryland it is given to the Governor, and in Ohio to the Governor, Auditor, and Secretary of State. By far the larger number of States provide for a new distribution following each National census. Ten States, California, Nevada, Oregon, Nebraska, Missouri, Wis


consin, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Hampshire, which have intercalary State censuses, provide for them once in five years.

675. Representative Population.- This differs in different States. In some it is the total population as enumerated ; in some, the total excluding aliens; in some, the total excluding Indians not taxed ; in some, the total excluding Indians not taxed and aliens. Some States make the rule the total population, excluding aliens incapable of naturalization, as the Chinese in California ; some, the total white population, and a few, the voters.

676. Districting the State.-Generally some civil division already existing is adopted as a unit, as the county in the Middle and Western States, and both the county and the town in New England. As it is not deemed desirable that the members of the two houses should have just the same constituents, the representative and senatorial districts do not commonly coincide. The factors to be considered in establishing the two districts are, the number of members to be distributed, population, existing civil divisions, and the representation of fractions.

The common rule is to fix in the constitution major and minor numbers for each house, leaving a discretionary power to the Legislature within these limits. In such cases the Legislature ordinarily first fixes the number of members, then determines ratios of representation by dividing the population by this number, and finally establishes the districts with reference to the quotient. This is the method employed by Congress in apportioning National Representatives under the censuses of 1850 and 1860, except that Congress left the districting to the State Legislatures. A few constitutions, however, fix ratios of representation, and direct that these ratios shall be applied to the population to ascertain the size of the houses by division.

Most of the constitutions give the State authority charged with the duty of apportionment, power to group counties when necessary; while they also deny or limit power to divide the civil division adopted as the unit. With a view to preventing the aggregation of too much political power at one point, most of the States having large cities limit the number of representatives assigned to them by requir. ing a larger population than in other parts of the State. Several States assign to each county at least one representative ; while New

to le

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Jersey assigns one senator, and Connecticut two senators, to each county. The representation of fractions is duly provided for; but that subject, which is quite technical, needs not be considered here.

677. Legislative Sessions.— The constitutions of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and South Carolina provide for annual sessions; the constitutions of the other States, for biennial sessions. In Ohio, however, every Legislature elected under the present constitution, with two exceptions, has held an adjourned session, thus defeating the intent of the constitution. The Governors of the States may call special sessions when in their judgment occasion for them arises.

678. Length of Sessions. Some of the States, as Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, South Carolina, and Ohio, have left this matter wholly to the discretion of their Legislatures. In other States the length of the constitutional session ranges from 40 days in Georgia, Colorado, Nebraska, and Oregon, to 150 in Pennsylvania.

679. Powers of the Separate Houses. –These are practically the same as the powers possessed separately by the Houses of Congress.

1. They are the judges of the qualifications, elections, and returns of their own members.

2. They choose their own officers, except that the Lieutenant-Governor in States having such an officer is the constitutional president of the Senate.

3. The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment, while the Senate is the trial court. Some States, however, associate members of the judiciary with the Senate in the trial of such cases ; for instance, the constitution of New York constitutes the President of the Senate, the Senators, or a major part of them, and the Judges of the Court of Appeals, or a major part of them, such a court.

680. Legislative Powers.—The powers of legislation

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

that are reserved to the States, or to the people, are far more numerous than those delegated to Congress. Still, the State Legislature by no means possesses all these reserved powers. The people prohibit the Legislature to exercise powers that they wish to retain in their own hands. There is no express delegation of power. No State constitution contains such a section as number 8, Article I., of the National Constitution, “Congress shall have power," followed by an enumeration of the principal powers of legislation delegated. Such of the reserved powers as are not denied them, the Legislatures may exercise.

881. Legislative Powers Reserved. These differ in different States. However, all the States that have adopted new constitutions in recent years have shown an increasing jealousy of the Legislative branch of the Government. The Pennsylvania constitution devotes an entire article of thirty-two sections to limiting the power of the Legislature. Montana provides that the Legislative Assembly shall not pass local or special laws on more than thirty enumerated subjects. The constitution of Ohio says: All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation throughout the State.” The purpose of such provisions is to prevent the evils growing out of special legislation. On some subjects the Legislature is not allowed to act at all.

682. Modes of Legislation.-While provisions relating to this subject are commonly much more minute than those found in the National Constitution, State modes of legislation do not widely differ from those followed in Congress. Some constitutions prescribe that bills on all subjects may originate in either house; others, that bills for raising revenue must originate in the lower house. Some provide that all legislation must be by bill; others are silent on this point. It is common to specify that no bill shall relate to more than one subject, and that this shall be distinctly stated in the enacting clause. Enacting clauses

« AnteriorContinuar »