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votes cast at the election must be favorable to the con-

3. General Assembly must in that case at next session provide

for such convention by law.

4. Number of delegates must be double the number in the

Senate (102), to be elected in the same manner, place,
time, and districts as State senators.

5. Convention to meet within three months and frame a new


B. Ratification.

Submitted to people at special election: total majority of all

votes cast at that election must be favorable to the new

constitution or it will fail of adoption.
This method would take about six years and requires a vote

in two sessions of the Legislature and at a general and a

special election by the people.



A. Proposal.

Single amendment at a time.

Must be by two-thirds vote in both houses.

B. Ratification.

Total majority of all the votes cast at the next general elec-
tion must be in favor of proposed amendment if it is
carried. Is printed on separate or " little ballot."

C. Restrictions on this method of amending:

1. Only one amendment may be proposed by General Assem-

bly at any one session.

2. Assembly may not offer an amendment to the same article

oftener than once in four years.

A constitution nearly fifty years old, made in the nine-
teenth century, for a State with only 2,500,000 people, can
not suit the unforeseen needs of the twentieth century and
a population close to six millions.

Could a constitution be nailed down any tighter than
Illinois' ? How many years will it take to get the amend-
ments needed if Illinois has the constitutional dress she ab-
solutely requires ? The present constitution " was born
before the trolley, the electric light, the telephone, the auto-
mobile, the sky-scraper. These familiars of our daily life
were unknown to the framers of the constitution."

To "amend the amending clause" Article XIV al-
lowing a number of amendments to be submitted to the
people at once, has been proposed as a practical " short
cut " through part of our difficulties. But it would give us
only temporary, partial relief. In the end our necessi-
ties would compel us to resort to a constitutional conven-
tion to obtain simplicity and flexibility of form and relief


from too many independent taxing bodies. The demand
for a constitutional convention is being heard most per-
sistently from the northern half of the State, particularly
in Chicago and Cook County, where three hundred and
seventy separate taxing bodies (i), with widely varying
rates, lead to great confusion in government and waste of
public money.

An editorial in the Chicago Tribune, October 23, 1913,
entitled, " Give Us a Convention," is of interest on this
point. A constitutional convention is urged " at the earli-
est practical date as the surest means of obtaining addi-
tional charter power for the city and as the only means of
securing the power to consolidate the three municipalities "
(Chicago, Cook County, sanitary district).

The council is urged to petition the governor of Illinois
to call a special session of the Legislature cf to consider the
supreme need for holding a constitutional convention."

" But Chicago ought not to look at the constitutional con-
vention proposal from a selfish point of view. We are
citizens of the State and the State needs constitutional re-
lief. Not only Chicago, but the State, has long outgrown
the constitution of 1870, and while our needs may be more
dramatic and urgent, they are not more real than those of
the entire State."

The legislatures of 1913 and 1915 refused to allow the
people of Illinois to vote on this vital question of a constitu-
tional convention preferring the " piece-meal plan." What
will the 50th General Assembly do with the question?
Like Banquo's ghost " it will not down."


Illinois has the honor to be the first State east of the
Mississippi to grant the ballot to women. This makes the
tenth State in the Union to give " votes to women." Al-
though not full suffrage, it grants greatly enlarged powers
to women. A description of the essential parts of this
famous law follows :

"The Woman Suffrage Law. Since 1891 Illinois
women have been allowed to vote for all school officers
except State and County Superintendent of Schools.

" The Illinois legislature of 1913 extended to women the
right to vote for the following named officers : Presiden-
tial Electors, Member of the State Board of Equalization,
Clerk of the Appellate Court, County Surveyor, Members
of Board of Assessors, Members of Board of Review, San-
itary District Trustees, all officers of cities, milages and
toivns (except police magistrates), Supervisor, Town Clerk,
Assessor, Collector and Highway Commissioner and also
the right to vote upon all questions or propositions submit-
ted to a vote of the electors of any municipality or other
political division of the State.

" The wording of the law is such that some officers, like
city judges, municipal court judges, commissioners in cities
under a commission form of government, forest preserve
president and commissioners, park commissioners and road
district clerk, not common to every city, district or town



are really covered by the law, because such officers are city
officers or town officers, or to be voted for by ' legal voters.'

" The same legislature also enacted a law allowing
women to vote at primaries for the officers named above.

" Other semi-official persons like delegates and alternates
to national nominating conventions, members of state cen-
tral committee, precinct and ward committees may also be
voted for by women. Women may hold any of these
offices because the word " male " is not used in describing
the qualifications of the officer. Women are eligible to ap-
pointive positions and deputyships.

" The women privileged to vote must be either native
born or naturalized citizens of the United States, having
resided in the State one year, in the county ninety days and
in the election district thirty days next preceding any elec-
tion therein, and they must be registered in the same man-
ner in which men are registered.

" The days for registration precede the primaries and
elections by three weeks and are advertised beforehand.

" The city and school elections generally occur annually
in April and the county and State elections biennially in
November, though special elections may be called, for other

" The statute provides for separate ballots and ballot
boxes in order that the women may not vote for all the
officers for whom men vote. There is a similar provision
in the school suffrage law of 1891, as the legislature has
no power to extend suffrage to women for officers men-
tioned in the constitution. Men only are now allowed to
vote for the most of the State officers, county officers,
judges, members of congress and the State legislature. To
give women the same rights, the Illinois constitution must


be amended. Such an amendment, if submitted to the peo-
ple by a vote of two-thirds of the 1917 legislature, that is,
by thirty- four senators and one hundred and two repre-
sentatives, and then voted for by a majority of all vot-
ing at the November, 1918, election would become a
part of the constitution and fully enfranchise Illinois
women. " l

State Aid Good Roads Law. The new State Aid
Good Roads law, in effect July i, 1913, creates a new State
Highway Department of five commissioners, two of whom
must be engineers. Their term is six years, and the gov-
ernor appoints them. They will supervise all roads built
with State aid, prepare a uniform plan of construction, and
a road map for the State. The county board of each county
must appoint a county superintendent of highways for six
years from a certified list submitted by the State commis-
sion. This superintendent of highways will oversee the
construction of the State roads in the county, advise the
State commission of any peculiar local conditions in that
county, and act as a State agent for the commission. Cer-
tain highways in the county are designated by the county
board as " State Aid roads," subject to the approval of the
State commission, which is responsible for making the vari-
ous county roads fit into the general plan. The State pays
half the cost of construction of such highways and also
bears the entire cost of keeping them in repair.

Each township or road district, if in a county not under
township organization, decides by referendum vote whether
it wants one highway commissioner or three to look after

1 This material is taken from a pamphlet, " The A. B. C. of Woman's
Suffrage Rights in Illinois," by Catharine Waugh McCulloch, and is
used throuerh the courtesy of the author who is also author of the law.


its country roads, except the State Aid roads. 2 This is the
worst feature of the law, because the county ought to be
the center of local management as well as construction.
Not more than twenty-five per cent, of the total mileage
of country roads in any county can be State Aid roads.
There is no aid for roads in cities or villages.

Funds. The funds come from three sources: The
State automobile tax, which now amounts to $800,000, an
appropriation from the General Assembly, and the county
tax. The new law revives a poll tax of one to two dollars
levied on all men between twenty-one and fifty, and is pay-
able in cash, not labor. Enlarged powers of taxation and
bond issue for road building are granted the counties.
After April 1914, the supervisor in each town becomes
treasurer of the Road and Bridge Fund, making that town
office of more importance.

Cook County has approximately 1,200 miles of country
roads, so the county is entitled to 300 miles of State Aid
roads. These must be principal highways, and connect
with the State roads in adjoining counties.

Western, Milwaukee, Archer Avenues, Halsted and
Twelfth Streets have been designated by the county board
as the first State Aid roads in Cook County. They are
being made of concrete. 3

This law is the first sensible attempt to " pull Illinois

2 Roads and Bridges Act, 1913, sec. 158.

3 There has already been planned and surveyed a great transcon-
tinental highway of concrete running from New York to San Francisco,
to cost approximately $75,000,000. The cement companies of the
United States have offered to furnish the cement for this highway at
a cost to the companies of $10,000,000. This Lincoln Memorial highway
will run along the south boundary of Cook County and pass through
Joliet and Dekalb.


out of the mud," and is full of promise for the future.
Farm property will be immensely benefited by these new
State Aid roads, and indirectly, the cities and villages will
profit by better transportation for all farm products. 4

Public Utilities Commission. Two bills concerning
public service companies and corporations were made law
by the Legislature of 1913. A bi-partisan public utilities
commission of five members to be appointed by the governor
for six years was created. The salary is large $10,000
and each commissioner must devote his entire time to
the duties of his office and hold no other office nor engage
in any other business.

All public utility corporations must supply the commis-.
sion with any information required, and their books can be
inspected at all times. The law says : " All rates and
other charges made by any public utility shall be just and
reasonable." Every unjust or unreasonable charge made
is declared unlawful and prohibited. If the language of
the law means what the words usually mean, then the public
utilities commission can absolutely regulate the price of
gas, electric light, ice, and water; railroad, express, tele-
graph, and telephone rates ; warehouse and storage charges,
and the price paid for oil throughout Illinois. Certainly
this is tremendous power to place in the hands of five men,
and the entire value of the law rests in the. type of men
the governor appoints. There is provision for an appeal
from any ruling of the commission to the circuit court of

4 See synopsis of the State Aid Good Roads Law prepared by the
Roads and Bridges committee of the Cook County Board. Also Re-
vised Roads and Bridges Act, in effect July I, 1913. Secure this act
from secretary of State, Springfield, or from your county board. Get
a road map of your county from the county board and notice the State
Aid roads on it, if any in existence.


Sangamon County and from that direct to the State su-
preme court. The act went into effect January i, 1914. ( i )

The greatest objection to the law comes from Chicago,
because there is no clause allowing " home rule " for that
city, or control of its own great public-service companies.
Chicago, through its mayor and council, has unitedly pro-
tested against such a great increase in the power of the
State at the expense of the cities. Some control and regu-
lation of public utilities is greatly needed, and if the law
is firmly, impartially, and wisely administered, both the
public-service companies and the people at large will bene-
fit equally.

Municipal Ownership of Public Utilities. The sec-
ond law is : " An act to authorize cities to acquire, con-
struct, own, and to lease or operate public utilities and to
provide the means therefor." (Session Laws, 1913, pp.
455~459-) This act, in force July i, 1913, gives the cities,
villages, and towns of Illinois the right of municipal owner-
ship, operation or lease of their street car, telegraph, tele-
phone lines; water, gas, electric light, cold storage, and
power plants of every kind ; public warehouses, storage
places, clocks, and to fix the rates and charges for the serv-
ices rendered by such public utilities.

How must a city proceed under the act if it wishes to
construct and operate a street-car line ? First an ordinance
must be passed by the council providing for municipal con-
struction and ownership of such street-car line and provid-
ing for a bond issue in payment of same, the bonds to run
not longer than twenty years. This ordinance must be
approved by a referendum vote, and the city may then pro-
ceed to build and operate the new municipal car line. If
a car line was already in existence, and the franchise about


to expire, the city could proceed under the new powers to
buy the privately owned car line, repair it, and run it. The
same is true of a gas, electric light, or ice plant, a ware-
house, or telephone line. If the private company will not
sell its property at a fair price, then the city may condemn
it under the right of eminent domain. (2) Instead of issu-
ing bonds, a new method is provided in the act to pay for
such municipally owned utilities. If authorized by the vot-
ers, the council may issue " public utility certificates," to be
paid for out of the profits of the utility. This plan has the
advantage of making the plant pay for itself. The utility
may be mortgaged as security for the redemption of these
certificates, and there is danger of foreclosure of this mort-
gage by which a private corporation could easily get pos-
session of a plant built by the city, run it for twenty years,
and reap all the financial rewards of the experiment. This
possibility ought to make the citizens in any community
keenly alive to the necessity of an honest, efficient, city
government and a strictly enforced civil-service law for all
city employees before they attempt municipal ownership of
their public utilities. The act gives broader powers to
Illinois municipalities than any recent law.

Municipal Coliseum Law. The Legislature has con-
ferred the right on cities and villages under 500,000 popu-
lation to levy a tax of three mills to build and one mill on
the dollar to maintain a public coliseum for purposes of as-
sembly and recreation. There must first be a favorable
referendum vote to build such a coliseum. The mayor, or
the president of the village, appoints three directors to
serve without pay for three years to have entire control
of the use of the coliseum as well as to build and equip
it. Bonds running thirty years may be sold to pay for the


building and payment secured by a mortgage on it. Every
public municipal coliseum so erected is for the " free use
and benefit of the people for lectures, concerts, public as-
semblies, and all other educational purposes, and for free
amusements and entertainments," subject only to the rules
and regulations laid down by the three directors. The
coliseum is to be used " for the greatest benefit to the great-
est number," according to the terms of this very progress-
ive law. In small rural communities a suitable place for
public gatherings is hard to find. Usually the church or
schoolhouse is the only available place, and neither build-
ing is large enough or central enough to serve community
needs. A public municipal coliseum would be a genuine
community and social center and fill a real community need.
No city or village need build such a coliseum unless it wants
to, for the law provides absolute " home rule " in the mat-
ter. (Session Laws, 1913, pp. 142-145.)

Legislative Reference Bureau. Several States, par-
ticularly Wisconsin and Massachusetts, have established
such a bureau, and the members of their State Legislatures
have found it a great service in drafting bills and voting
intelligently on bills introduced. Illinois has joined this
group of " forward looking " States, and provided by law
for such a reference bureau. The duty of this bureau is
to " collect, catalogue, and index laws, periodicals, docu-
ments, and digests " from other States and arrange this
valuable material in the most convenient form for the use
of members of the Legislature.

The reference bureau is composed of the governor, who
is ex-officio chairman, and the chairman of the committees
on judiciary in the Senate and the House. This commit-
tee of three appoints a paid secretary who gives his entire


time to the work of the bureau and keeps it open the year
round, Sundays and legal holidays excepted. (Session
Laws, 1913, pp. 391-392.)

Workmen's Compensation Act. " A business that
does not care for its own waste is a parasite." The ap-
palling number of deaths and accidents to working men,
women, and children in industries led Dr. C. R. Henderson
to make the statement quoted.

The present workmen's compensation act is not compul-
sory. An employer may voluntarily accept its provisions,
or he may serve notice that he will not be bound by its
terms. But if he fails to file such notice, he is obliged to
come under the act. An Industrial Board of three mem-
bers, appointed by the governor for six years, is created
to enforce the act. This board is composed of an em-
ployer, an employee, and a " representative citizen," who is
neither, and the board must be bi-partisan.

The amount allowed for the death of a workman incurred
in the industry is not less than $1,500 nor more than $3,500.
Lesser amounts are paid for injuries received. In case of
permanent disability, a small life pension, payable monthly,
is provided. Any employer can withdraw from the com-
pensation plan by giving notice to the Industrial Board and
his own workmen ; but such withdrawal does not affect the
pensions for which he is already liable. The workmen em-
ployed by the State, county, and local governments are also
protected by the law. This act marks a cautious begin-
ning in Illinois toward making industry " carry its own

Mothers' Pension Fund. This new law takes the
place of the carelessly drawn law of 1911 and provides a
pension of $15 a month for a mother with one child under


fourteen years old and $10 per month for each additional
child under fourteen, provided no relief is granted for any
one mother to exceed $60 per month. Alien mothers who
have taken first papers toward citizenship are eligible as
well as mothers who are citizens of United States. Both
classes of pensioners must have lived three years in the
county where relief is sought. If the father is living, but
permanently unable to support his family, upon recommen-
dation of the probation officer investigating the case, the
mother and children may still obtain the pension. Relief
ceases whenever a child becomes fourteen, unless that child
is sick or has become crippled, when the pension may be
continued until the said child is sixteen.

This pension is paid through the office of the county
agent. The county board levies a tax of three-tenths of
one mill on the dollar annually on all taxable property in
the county, to be known as the mothers' pension fund.
The judge of the juvenile court, or the county judge in
counties having no juvenile court, is charged with the ad-
ministration of the law, and there are special probation
officers for the investigation of every applicant for the
fund. ( See Juvenile Court in Cook County, pp. 78-79, for
working of this new pension act in that county.)

Illinois Park Commission. Illinois is one of the pio-
neer States in the Mississippi Valley to create a State park.
The Illinois Park Commission, of three members, serving
without pay, was appointed by the governor in 1911 to
acquire sites noted for their history or natural beauty and
maintain the same as State parks. " The historic spot
where the great tribe of the Illini Indians is said to have
made their last stand, and the site of the French fort of
Saint Louis," have been purchased, and the twelve hundred
acres are now known as Starved Rock State Park. This


beautiful park lies on the Illinois River in LaSalle County.
The increasing number of people using the park shows how
great the need of State-owned parks is. Cottages and
camping grounds are being provided and every effort made
by the Park Commission for the freest possible use of this
great out-door playground. 5

Child Labor Law. Illinois had an apology for such a
law over twenty years ago; but the law passed in 1903 is
the one of which the people are proud, and justly, because
it is counted one of the best child labor laws in the country.
No child under fourteen is allowed to work in any place
where liquor is sold, and there is a long list of prohibited
occupations, for which see Revised Statutes, 1912, chapter
xlviii, sections 2O2Oa. All children come under the com-
pulsory school law until fourteen years old. At that time
age and school certificates are required from parents and the
school superintendent. Between fourteen and sixteen all
hazardous occupations are forbidden and every such child
employed in permitted occupations must be registered by a
wall list giving name, age, and residence, which is posted in
the establishment where he is employed. The child's work-
ing day is eight hours and must lie between seven a. m. and
six p. m. The State factory inspector and his deputies are
charged with enforcing the child labor law and a certain
proportion of the deputy inspectors must be women, be-
cause they are keener in protecting the rights of the child.
Every child must be able to read simple sentences and write
legibly before a work certificate is granted. A fine is im-
posed for each violation of the child labor law. Illinois
protects the children in part until they are sixteen. After

5 Report Illinois Park Commission, 1912, is a very interesting docu-
ment and will repay careful reading.


that they are adults in the legal sense and must take their
chances. Is it wise ? Can you give any reasons for favor-
ing a longer period for preparation for life occupation?

The Local Option Law. Since 1907 Illinois has had
a " local option " law allowing any city, village, town, pre-
cinct, or township to become anti-saloon territory by popu-
lar vote and remain " dry " for eighteen months, when the
question may be resubmitted on petition of a small number
of voters. Under the terms of this act, over half the State of
Illinois is " dry " territory. But the permission to reopen
the question every eighteen months keeps the battle between
the " personal liberty " advocates and the anti-saloon people
always to the front. A decision of the State supreme court

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Online LibraryMary Louise ChildsActual government in Illinois → online text (page 14 of 16)