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among the fifty-one senatorial districts. One senator and
three representatives are elected from each district in No-
vember of the even years. Senators from the even-num-
bered districts are elected at one November election and
the senators from the odd numbered districts at the next
biennial election. The entire one hundred and fifty-three
representatives are elected every two years. In conse-
quence, the house must reorganize every regular session.

The senatorial districts are determined by population,
and the Legislature reapportions the State every ten years
according to the new Federal census. ( i ) Cook County has



nineteen senatorial districts and seventy-six votes in the
General Assembly. Minority representation, or " cumula-
tive voting," is allowed only in electing State representa-

Minority Representation. Minority representation
is the unique feature in the Constitution of 1870. Every
voter has three votes for State representative.* He may
divide them as he likes : one to each of three; one and a half
to each of two men; or he may. "plump" his three votes
on one man, thus assuring his election. This gives repre-
sentation to a party in the minority and when adopted was
hailed as a notable reform. After forty years' service,
it works out in this way : The leaders of the two older
parties agree to nominate two candidates, or one, in each
district, according to their relative strength in each of the
fifty-one senatorial districts. Then by this ingenious de-
vice of the voter massing his three votes on their one candi-
date, the party in the minority throughout the State is sure
of electing one-third the representatives. The situation is
somewhat complicated by the entrance of a third party : yet
three large parties instead of two only make it easier for
a small group of voters by "plumping" to defeat the
divided strength of their enemies and elect their candidate,
who is often entirely unfit to represent the district. Mi-

1 For a few years this method of " cumulative voting " was tried in
electing trustees of sanitary, or drainage, districts, in the State. But
that section of the Drainage Act was soon repealed, and now minority
representation is limited to State representatives. (Rev. Stat, ch.
xlii, sec. 217.) There is provision, however, for cities to use minority
representation in the council by electing three aldermen from a ward
and applying cumulative voting, if any city chooses to adopt this
method. But the law seems to be a dead letter at present. (Rev. Stat.,
ch. xxiv, sees. 53-54. In force July, 1911.)


nority representation in its present form ought to be cast
out of the constitution and the unvarying principle, " one
man, one vote," substituted.

Qualifications. Both senators and representatives
must be citizens of the United States and have lived in the
State five years and in their districts two years before elec-
tion; but senators must be twenty-five years old, while
representatives are only required to be twenty-one. Sen-
ators' term is four years and representatives' two. Each
is eligible for reelection.

Disqualifications. No one can legally be a mem-
ber of either house if he has ever been convicted of bribery,
perjury, or any other crime ; neither is he eligible if, having
held public funds, he has failed satisfactorily to account
for them. He can. not hold any other profitable State or
Federal office at the same time he is a member of the Legis-

Each member, before he can take his seat, must " de-
clare on oath that he has not given any bribe to secure his
election and that he will accept no bribe during his term
of office." (Constit, Art. IV, sec 5.) Any member who
refuses to take this oath, or is guilty of perjury in taking
it, thereby forfeits his seat. All such questions as the
right of any member to his seat are decided by each house
for its own members. It takes a two-thirds vote to expel
a member. The expulsion of Frank D. Comerford, second
senatorial district, by the House of Representatives, in
1905, illustrates this point. Comerford charged wholesale
corruption in the Legislature of 1905 in a speech made in
Chicago, and given wide publicity through the daily press.
A special committee in the House investigated the charges
and recommended Comerford be expelled. This was done


in February by a vote of 121 yeas to 13 nays, being more
than the required two-thirds vote. He was reflected by
his district at a special election called by the governor April
4, 1905, was sworn in a second time and served out his
term. (See Journal House of Representatives for 1905.)

By all these devices Illinois has tried to keep her Legis-
lature pure; but she has not succeeded very well, as the
General Assembly has not had a good reputation for most
sessions. The members, however, represent the will of
the active voters in their districts the stay-at-home voter
does iiot count and therefore the Legislature is fully
up to the average intelligence and morality of the voters
in the State.

Salary. Senators and representatives are paid $3,500
per session (2) and ten cents mileage for necessary travel in
going and returning from Springfield; also an allowance
of $50 for newspapers and stationery. Do they have the
" franking privilege " like members of Congress?

Organization. The lieutenant-governor is president
ex-officio of the Senate, but has no vote except in case of
a tie. The senators choose one of their number for presi-
dent pro tern to preside in the absence of the lieutenant-
governor. The speaker is chosen by the representatives
from their own number. Where the majority party is
split into factions, or there is a third party in the House,
as there has been most sessions since 1870, prohibitionists,
socialists, labor party men, or progressives, the struggle to
elect a speaker may consume weeks. The regular session
of the 48th General Assembly did not organize for three
weeks (from January 8 to 29, 1913) (3), when the speaker-
ship deadlock was broken by the election of William Mc-
Kinley (Dem.), from Lake View, Chicago, as speaker.


The unusual selection of two United States senators to
succeed Shelby M. Cullom, whose term expired March 4,
1913, and William Lorimer, whose seat had been declared
vacant by the United States Senate, was the cause of the
deadlock. The election of J. Hamilton Lewis (Dem.) for
the six-year term and Lawrence Y. Sherman for the short
two-year term, March 26, through the Democratic-Repub-
lican combination, broke a second lengthy deadlock. (4)
These are the last two senators to be elected by the General
Assembly. (See Amendment XVII, U. S. Con.)

Powers of the Speaker. The speaker of the House
has large power through his appointment of all com-
mittees, including the naming of the chairmen. He also
has the power of recognizing or ignoring a member who
-desires to address the House, according as he favors or
disapproves of his motion. This is known as the power
of recognition. He declares the result of every vote, and
unless the yeas and nays are recorded in a roll call, the
speaker may announce a motion carried which his party
favors, when a roll call would show it defeated. This is
" gavel rule/' because the fall of the speaker's gavel as he
announces the vote, legally closes it, and has often been
used to " railroad through " bad bills and defeat good ones.
If the lieutenant-governor and the president of the senate
are unable to act as governor, the speaker assumes the
office for the remainder of the term.

Employees. Each house chooses clerks, postmas-
ters, sergeants-at-arms, doorkeepers, and a horde of lesser
employees, such as watchmen, janitors, messengers, stenog-
raphers, secretaries to the members, " clock-winders, and
transom-openers," the number chosen depending very
largely on the size of the throng of hungry politicians


clamoring for jobs as rewards for political services ren-
dered at the previous November election. The corridors of
the capitol are crowded with this army of needless em-
ployees. (5)

Sessions. The Illinois General Assembly has the very
bad habit of generally meeting only on Tuesday, Wednes-
day, and Thursday each week, and practically little work
is done before the middle of April. They usually adjourn
early in June, and thus a session of five months means only
six weeks or two months of actual law-making. In the
meantime the State is paying all legislative employees for
full-time work. The bad custom of permitting members
of the Legislature to accept railroad passes was largely to
blame for these short weekly sessions, but an anti-pass bill
was killed in the legislature many times. The present rul-
ing is an unforeseen result of the Public Utilities law passed
in 1913. (6)

Committees. The real work of the two houses is
done in standing committees, numbering from three to
twenty-five members. Each is assigned to one or more
committees. In the Senate these committees are elected
after being nominated in party caucuses. A party-caucus is
a meeting, usually secret, of the members of a political party
in House or Senate, to determine committee membership, or
how the party members shall vote on important bills. If the
party leaders are able men, they hold their party members
rigorously to the policy agreed on in the caucus.

In the House the speaker names the members of the
committees. If he is slow in announcing these committees,
as in the 48th Assembly, 1913 (not all selected until the
last of April), the House falls below the Senate in its work.

The principal committees are those on appropriations,
judiciary, elections, agriculture, education, railroads, rev-


enue, waterways, charitable and reformatory institutions.
The Senate has about forty standing committees; the
House, about seventy.

Rules of Procedure. Each house adopts its own
rules of procedure. The rules of the House have been in
use many years and are well adapted to allow the party in
the majority to ride rough-shod over the minority. A
small beginning was made in the Legislature of 1913 to
alter these ancient rules; but any genuine reform was de-
feated by the house machines. (7) It takes an actual ma-
jority of all the members elected in either house to pass a
bill on its final, or third reading: seventy-seven votes in the
House and twenty-six in the Senate is the constitutional

Work of Legislature. The following are the prin-
cipal things the General Assembly may do through its law-
making power, although the number of laws passed is legion :

1. Raise and collect a revenue by direct taxation.

2. Raise and maintain a militia.

3. Create and maintain a public-school system.

4. Provide for higher education, as a State university,
normal and high schools.

5. Care for defectives, as the insane, blind, deaf and
dumb, paupers, and epileptics.

6. Detect and punish crime.

7. Maintain a system of public roads.

8. Charter corporations, as railroads, banks, insurance
companies, clubs, etc.

9. Create and control local governments, as counties,
cities, villages, school districts, towns, sanitary and drain-
age districts.


10. Determine conditions of the suffrage and make all
election laws.

How a Bill Becomes a Law. Bills may originate
in either house, and any member of the General Assembly
may introduce a bill. This is done when the roll is called
on certain days early in the session and members respond
by reading their bills by title. For most bills the process
of being turned into law resembles an obstacle, or " hurdle
race." The first difficulty encountered is the committee to
which it is referred by the speaker, if introduced in the
House. When a bill is introduced in the Senate, the sen-
ator responsible usually requests that it be referred to a
certain committee, of course one he thinks favorable to his
bill. The committee has power to cut the bill to pieces, or
amend it, so that even the author would not recognize his
own bill. If hostile to the bill, the committee may " pigeon-
hole " it, " lay it on the table," and fail to report it out
of committee. However, if the member introducing it is
actually interested in its passage, he may, by his persistent
inquiries about the bill, make the chairman of the commit-
tee " holding it up " so uncomfortable that the committee
may report it out " without any recommendation,"
equivalent to disapproval of the bill or with the " recom-
mendation that it do not pass" a far worse fate for the
bill. The committees are justly named " legislative grave-

The time allowed for debate on a bill is determined by
the days left in the session and the number of bills to be
considered. In the hurried closing hours of the last day,
generally a day-and-night session, scores of bills, advanced
to third reading, are rushed through without debate, and


when many members have no idea what they are voting
on. Hundreds of good bills also fail through lack of time
to vote on them in the crowded closing session. The final
vote is always by roll call, when the " ayes and nays " are
recorded in the journal. This gives excellent opportunity
for the voters in each district to learn how their members
voted on important bills.

The Legislative Voters' League issues very interesting
bulletins each week of the session of the General Assembly.
These bulletins report what is done and how each member
votes, or " passes/' at every roll-call. They are the best
way to keep track of your State representatives and senator.
Any one can get the bulletin by addressing the secretary
of the League at Chicago, or Springfield, and enclosing
postage. For a humorous account of the sessions of the
48th General Assembly (1913), see the letters of George
Fitch, member from Peoria, in the Chicago Tribune,,
Sunday edition, January to June, 1913. These letters are
well worth reading as the first impressions of a new member
who went to the Legislature anxious to serve his district
well, but found himself helpless under the rules of pro-
cedure under which the House works.

Some members dislike the publicity of a roll-call so much
they refuse to vote rather than be recorded on certain bills.
What of the courage, or convictions, of such a dodging
legislator ?

All bills must be read on three different days; on two
days usually by title only, but the title of a bill must tell
plainly what it is about. Amendments can not be added
after a second reading, unless by unanimous consent of the
members present, or by sending it back to the committee.
The bill is ordered printed after second reading with the


amendments, and a copy is placed on the desk of each mem-

Lobbying, or the efforts of interested persons not legis-
lators, on behalf of a bill, is a common practice. Many
powerful corporations maintain paid lobbyists at Spring-
field through every session to work for or against certain
bills. Log-rolling, or the exchange of votes between legis-
lators, is another common practice. " I will vote for your
bill if you will vote for mine."

The Enacting Clause. One way the enemies of
a bill may kill it is to " move to strike out the enacting
clause." If this motion prevails, the bill is doomed. No
bill can become law unless it is prefaced by the words,
" Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, rep-
resented in the General Assembly."

The Veto Power. After passing both houses and
being signed by both presiding officers, the bill is sent to
the governor. He may keep it ten days, holidays and Sun-
days excepted. If he fails to return it at the end of this
period, it becomes a law without his signature. If he ap-
proves the bill he signs it ; the secretary of State affixes the
great seal of Illinois, and attends to its publication. The
bill is now a law, and goes into effect July i, unless some
emergency exists and the law goes into effect at once.
Emergency matters must have a two-thirds vote for im-
mediate enforcement. (Constit, Art. IV. sec. 13.)

But should the governor disapprove, he returns the bill,
with his objections, to the house where it started; it must
then receive a two-thirds vote in each house to pass it over
the veto and make the bill law without the governor's sig-
nature. Should the General Assembly have adjourned,
then the governor files the bill with his objections with the


secretary of State and the bill fails to become law, at least
until the next session of the Legislature.

The Selective Veto. The governor of Illinois may veto
any item in an appropriation bill and allow the rest of the
bill to become law. This is a valuable aid in preventing
extravagant or unwise items slipping into an appropriation
bill. All appropriation bills are required to state the
amount of each item and its purpose. This is to protect
the governor's selective veto and to guard against extrava-
gant expenditure.

Legislature of 1913. A quotation from " Bulletin No.
21, Legislative Voters' League of the State of Illinois," the
last issue for the 48th General Assembly, follows : " Ad-
journment of the 48th General Assembly, the most remark-
able session of a State Legislature in the history of Illinois,
in many respects, came at five o'clock this morning June
21 when Speaker McKinley let fall the House gavel for
the last time. Fifty Senate bills (passed by the Senate)
ready for final action were swept into the discard. Of the
1,617 bills introduced in both houses only 240 ran the legis-
lative gauntlet and reached the governor's desk for signa-
ture. The final week of the State's longest legislative ses-
sion from January 8 to June 21 was one of feverish
activity. From morning to midnight each day of this final
week, members fought to have advanced and passed the hun-
dreds of bills that had piled up during the months of inac-
tivity. Most of them failed, and during the last three days,
hundreds of measures, important and unimportant alike,
were lost. The most important measures which passed
both houses include: Woman's Suffrage, State Public
Utilities Commission, Municipal Ownership of Public Util-
ities, Consolidation State Fish and Game Departments,


State Epileptic Colony Appropriation, Good Roads, Pri-
mary Law Amendments, Workmen's Compensation Act,
Legislative Reference Bureau, Chicago Municipal Court
Act, Chicago Outer Harbor.

" Members declined to enact an anti-railroad pass law un-
less it had for a companion measure a salary boost for
legislators (from $2,000 to $3,500). The senate refused
to concur in what some of the members styled a legislative
bribery proceeding, and killed the salary raise bill after
it had passed the bill forbidding passes. The House
promptly responded by sending the anti-pass bill to legis-
lative limbo." (8)

One senator remarked, " This Assembly ought to do its
work in ninety days! If the Legislature would adjourn
for five years, the State would be better off." This quota-
tion illustrates from the proceedings in a recent session of
the Legislature several points mentioned in this chapter.
Practical, recent illustrations of actual government in Illi-
nois are always desirable. (9)

Comparison of Congress and General Assembly of Illinois.
[Fill out this outline.]
General Assembly. Congress.

1. Legal Name.

2. T i m e and
Place of Meet-

A. Senate.

B. House.

3. Composition.

A. Senators.

B. Representatives.

4. Qualifica-


General Assembly. Congress.

A. Senator.

B. Representative.

5. Term of Ofi-

6. Time of Elec-

7. Presiding Of-

8. Sole Powers.

9. Salary.


1. What is the organization in Illinois for studying the records
of members of the General Assembly and for securing the elec-
tion of honest, efficient legislators?

2. Why are the November legislative elections of such impor-
tance to every citizen of Illinois?

3. Why does our General Assembly fail to pass laws demanded
by the people?

4. Is there a legislative bureau in Illinois to collect information
for the benefit of members, or to assist them in the preparation
of bills?

5. How is a bill introduced in both houses?

6. Why is minority representation a bad thing?

7. What is the penalty for accepting a bribe?

8. What are the arguments against increasing the salary of an
Illinois legislator?

9. Give all possible ways a bill may fail.

10. Give the quickest method by which it may pass.

11. How can the speaker help pass a bad bill?

12. Why are committees called "legislative graveyards"?

13. What is a senatorial district? How many has Illinois?

14. What is "gavel rule"? Lobbying? Log-rolling?

15. What is "railroading" a bill?



1. State Constitution, Art. v.

2. Forman: American Republic, ch. xx; Adv. Civics, ch. xxiii.

3. Greene : Government of Illinois, pp. 85-90.

4. Garner: Government in the United States, ch. v; Supplement,

Government Illinois, 1915, pp. 17-34.

5. Boynton and Upton : School Civics, Supplement, pp. 40-51.

6. Guitteau : Government and Politics in United States, ch. x.

Elected Executives of the State. The State constitu-
tion declares (Art V, sec. i) : " The executive department
shall consist of a governor, lieutenant-governor, secretary
of state, auditor of public accounts, treasurer, superintend-
ent of public instruction, and attorney general, who shall
each, with the exception of the treasurer, hold his office
for the term of four years from the second Monday in
January next after his election, and until his successor is
elected and qualified. They shall, except the lieutenant-
governor, reside at the seat of the government during their
term of office, and keep the public records, books, and papers
there, and shall perform such duties as shall be prescribed
by law." In many respects Illinois' executive department
is " hydra-headed," and therefore lacks unity of action.
Decentralized power away from the center is a favor-
ite principle of American government, and Illinois only fol-
lows historic precedent in her executive department.



The Governor is the chief executive officer in Illinois.
He must be at least thirty years of age, and a citizen of the
United States and Illinois for the five years next preceding
his election. He is chosen at the general election the first
Tuesday after the first Monday in November of the Presi-
dential election years. His term begins the second Monday
in January following his election, provided the State legis-
lature has organized by choosing officers so that in joint
session it can canvass the votes cast for the executive officers
and declare them " duly elected." There was a " dead-
lock " in the House in the 48th General Assembly over the
election of a speaker, lasting three weeks, (i) In conse-
quence, Governor Charles S. Deneen and the other execu-
tive officers had their terms prolonged because their Demo-
cratic successors could not be declared " duly elected," nor
be qualified for office by giving their bonds and taking the
oath required of each State officer.

The governor's salary is fixed by law and is now $12,000
and the executive mansion at Springfield.

His Legislative Powers are, (a) to send a message to the
General Assembly at the beginning of each session; (b) to
sign or veto bills; 1 (c) to call the Assembly in special or
extraordinary session whenever, in his judgment, the oc-
casion requires ; and to adjourn the Assembly to such a time
as he thinks proper, if the houses disagree over the date,
provided it is not beyond the first day of the next regular

Power of Appointment. With the consent of the Senate,
the governor may appoint all officers whose appointment or
election is not otherwise provided for. The Legislature is

1 For description of his veto power, see pp. 147-148 (How a Bill
Becomes a Law).


strictly forbidden by the constitution to elect or appoint any
such officer, so that it may not usurp the appointing power
of the governor.

The number of positions, great and small, filled by ap-
pointment of the governor, is about five hundred. The
more important ones are : Offices in the State militia ;
factory, grain, and mine-inspectors; members of the geo-

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Online LibraryMary Louise ChildsActual government in Illinois → online text (page 10 of 16)