C. J. (Carl J.) Buell.

The Minnesota Legislature of 1915 online

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OF 1915




This book is not published for profit, but to in-
form the voters as to the record of their Senators
and Representatives. Please pass it on to your
neighbor after you have read it, and write to the
author your honest opinion of the work.

1528 Laurel Ave., St. Paul.

The Minnesota


(By C ' J '

Every citizen ought to read
this book. It tells you the
truth about your legislat-
ure. It shows just how
your member voted on the
important questions. It
opens up the true inward-
ness of the Speakership
Contest and the County
Option fight.

A Brief But Clear Discussion of the Questions of

"Public Service Corporations"
"Equal Suffrage"

"Efficiency and Economy"

"The Mayo Affiliation"

and Many Others

In cloth - $1.00 In paper, 5 copies $1.50 100 copies $15
2 copies - 1.50 10 copies - 2.50 200 copies $25

1 copy, paper .50 25 copies - 5.00 1000 copies $100

Address: C. J. BUELL

1528 Laurel Avenue ST. PAUL, MINN.

The Minnesota Legislature

of 1915

- BY-


Author of
"The Minnesota Legislature of 1913"

"The Currency Question"
'Industrial Depressions, their Cause and Cure'

"Monopolies and Trusts"
"Our Indebtedness to the Arabs"

Copyright by C. J. BUELL

1528 Laurel Avenue

St. Paul, Minn.


Who has..twi,pe orj^anizdjitfaf Senate for honesty, efficiency
"*". antl 'economy, irt* government.


The manuscript for this book has been prepared by
C. J. Buell, who gave his entire time, during the legislative
session of 1915, to a careful study of the record of each
member of both House and Senate and a thoro analysis of
all important measures.

Mr. Buell has wisely left the record of each member
to speak for itself.

We know Mr. Buell to be honest, independent and fear-
less, and believe he has produced a History of the Legis-
lature of 1915 that every citizen can read with profit.

(Signed) Hugh T. Halbert,
Louis Nash,
T. T. Hudson,
Elwood S. Corser.


This is the fourth time that a history of the Minnesota
Legislature has been given to the public.

These books have attempted to analyze, in a clear, simple
and fearless manner, the more important legislative work
of each session; and to show to the voters just how their
representatives had voted in committee and on the floor of
the House and Senate on these important matters.

This publicity has had its effect. Many extreme con-
servatives, reactionaries, and special interest men have been
retired to private life, and more progressive and honest men
sent in their places.

There has been a great improvement in the direction of
intelligence, honesty and independence. Steadily the people
have been able to get more and the corporations and special
interests less.

I believe the legislature of 1915 has to its credit as much
thoroly correct legislation and as few dangerous enactments
as any in the history of the state.

Some of my readers may think this a rash statement;
but, when you have gone thru the different chapters care-
fully, perhaps the good features will look better and the
sins not so heinous.

Much credit is due to those public spirited citizens whose
financial aid has made these books possible. As they have
always been sold at about the cost of printing and postage,
they have never brought any profit to the authors.

Write me your candid opinion of this book.

1528 Laurel Ave., St. Paul, Minn.


Commendatory Foreword 3

Author's Preface 3


County Option and the Speakership 5


The Committees and the Flowers Organization 10


Tying Up Members 13

The Patronage Bait 14

President pro tern, of the Senate 15


Self Government 16

The Source of Government 17

The Scope of Government IS

The Bill of Rights is

Representative Government ' ] s

Democracy (Initiative, Referendum and Recall) 1s

Equal Suffrage 22

Amending the Constitution 25


Taxation 27

Theories of Taxation 27

Tax Situation in Minnesota 29

Gross Earnings Taxes 31

Natural Sources of Revenue 32

Unemployment, Wage Regulation and Taxation 33


Public Service Corporations 34

The Telephone Bill ... 35

The Nolan Bill 37

Semi-Monthly Pay Day Bill 38

Street Railway Bills ' 40


Good Roads 45

Repeal of Elwell Road Law 46

Dunn Road Law 49


Temperance and Moral Measures 49

County Option 49

Prohibition 1 55

The Anti-Road House Bill 57

The Boxing Bill and Mayo Affiliation 60


Efficiency and Economy 63

The "Big Bill" 63

The "Seven Sisters" 65


Proposed Laws that Failed 67

Spoiling the Merit System 68

Medical Legislation 72

Educational Measures 75

The Grain Bills 76


A Non-Partisan Legislature 78

Some Laws that Passed 80

What the Legislature Silent 80


The Record the Members Made 81

The Senators 81

The Representatives 92

Larimore's Record . 112

The Minnesota LegisJaturc of ,



Why was the question of county option the supreme issue
in the selection of a speaker of the House of Representatives?
Are there not other state questions of equal or greater

Perhaps, but the one overwhelming issue in the campaign
of 1914 was the question whether the people of the several
counties of the state should be permitted to vote and
determine the policy of the county as to the licensing of the
liquor traffic. In almost every legislative district of the state
county option was either the one vital issue or else it was
one of the few questions around which the contest was
waged for Senator and House members.

What Does County Option Mean?

A few facts will make the answer plain. Under the
present system of so called Local Option, the people who
live within the boundaries of any little village or city have
the entire power to license saloons within that territory.
The farmers who occupy the surrounding country are wholly
shut out from any voice in the matter; yet they must come
there to trade; their older children must go there to school;
and there is the social center where they must seek enter-
tainment and religious and moral instruction.

Are not the surrounding farmers just as much interested
in the social and moral conditions of the town as are those
who happen to live within its boundaries? Yet under the
present system of "local option" they can have no voice
nor vote upon the most vital question that goes to determine
the moral status of their town.

Is this fair to these farmers to whom the town owes to a
large extent at least, its very existence?

And more than this; the licensed saloon is the one
greatest direct cause of crime and poverty.

The whole county must pay the cost of prosecuting the
criminals and supporting the paupers that result from the
legalized saloon.

Why then, should not all the people of the county be
allowed to vote on the question of licensing saloons within
its borders?

Blind Pigs and Boot Leggers.

"But," you say, "If saloons are not licensed, 'blind pigs'
and 'boot leggers' will spring up and flourish."

The answer \is: "Such places are outlaws. The halo
and sanctity of law do not surround them. They can be
closed and destroyed at any time, whenever any person or
group of persons see fit to take action."

If the people of the counties had a right to vote on this


Superintendent of the Minnesota Anti-Saloon League, the
Organization that won in the Legislature of 1915.

The Minnesota Legislature of 1915

question, it is reasonably certain that more than three fourths
of the state would refuse to license and legalize this useless
and accursed traffic.

The people of the other counties, who might wish to
continue the license system, would in no way be prevented
from doing so.

This issue has long been a burning one, and the election
of 1914, the people chose a good working majority of both
House and Senate either pledged to pass a county option law,
or known to favor such an act; and thus give to the citizens
of each county the right to vote upon and determine the
question whether or not the open saloon should be licensed
and legalized.


Before the votes were all counted, the brewery interests
had selected H. H. Flowers of LeSeuer county as their candi-
date for speaker and were very busy lining up for him all
members not pledged to county option.

From the start they made the extravagant claim of
seventy-three votes, (seven more than enough to elect) and
tried to produce a stampede for the band wagon.

Ed. Claggett, distributing agent of the Hamm Brewing Co.
whose headquarters are at Austin, Minn., was called in and
took a fine suite of rooms at the Ryan Hotel. Here he
remained, during the entire contest, working his best for
Flowers, helping to influence members and secure votes.

Agents of the N. W. Telephone Co. were also in evidence,
as were also close friends of the Republican boss, Ed. -Smith.

Referring to the speakership one prominent -St. Paul
wholesale liquor dealer said to the writer, "We propose to
protect our interests. It will cost money, but we shall pro-
tect our interests."

The hasty activity of the liquor interests in behalf of
Mr. Flowers forced the county option men to get together;
and after some consultation it was apparent that most of
them favored S. Y. Gordon of Brown's Valley for speaker.

Mr. Gordon had been Lieutenant Governor in 1911, and
had so organized the senate committees that the brewers and
other special interests were not well pleased with him.

Forty-two members pledged themselves to Mr. Gordon on
the evening of Nov. 17 at a conference held at the Merchants
Hotel. Others sent in their pledges until the number reached
sixty-two who had authorized their names to be published.
Three others had pledged themselves verbally, but did not
want their names given out. One more would be enough
to elect Gordon.

C. L. Sawyer, a strong temperance man and supporter
of county option, had not yet given either a written or verbal
pledge but had assured several friends, among them the
present writer, that he should support Gordon finally, if he
had to do so to defeat Flowers. He later on sent a written
pledge to the Anti-Saloon League to be the sixty-sixth man to
vote for Gordon.

A desperate attempt was made by the liquor interests
to take men away from Gordon, and they openly avowed their
determination to "protect our interests at any cost."

8 The Minnesota Legislature of 1915

At one time by misrepresentation, they secured a pledge
from Spencer J. Searls of Carleton, an original Gordon man,
to support Flowers; but when Searls fully understood
the situation he returned to Gordon, and stayed.

Later Hugh O. Thompson of Blue Earth county was
deceived into declaring for Flowers, but he soon discovered
the deceit and returned to Gordon.

A. M. Peterson of Itasca county and Oscar C. Stenvick
of Clearwater were taken up into the high mountain and
offered all in sight if they would desert Gordon and support

Great pressure was brought to bear on C. E. Vasaly of
the board of control, to secure the vote of his brother for
Flowers, but Mr. Vasaly flatly refused to do anything to change
his brother's vote.

Madigan of Wright, Tollefson of Dodge, Wold of Douglas,
Marwin of Hennepin and several others were put under pres-
sure. In fact every member about whose position there was
the least doubt was offered good committee apppointments
in exchange for his support, and one member at least is
ready to testify that he was offered money directly to desert
Gordon and support Flowers.

When the House met Jan. 5 to elect a speaker the plot
soon began to unravel.

After a number of members had seconded the nomination
of Flowers and the psychological moment had arrived, J. H.
Erickson of Big Stone county arose and in a carefully pre-
pared speech seconded the nomination of Flowers.

Now Mr. Erickson had been one of the original Gordon
men, and had pledged to Gordon on the evening of Nov. 17.
Mr. Erickson was evidently much disturbed in mind, for
his face was flushed, he trembled in every part of his body,
he neither looked up nor to right or left, but sat in his seat
during the rest of the day's session like one in a dn?am.
I sat where I could watch him closely, and could read his
thoughts and emotions like an open book.

He was made chairman of the committee on banks and

The next act in this drama was during the first ballot,
when C. L. Sawyer played the part assigned to him, and read
a lengthy statement explaining his vote for Flowers. Sawyer
has always been a strong temperance man and had pledged
himself to support Gordon. I heard him say that he could
never vote for Flowers and the brewery crowd.

The third man needed to elect Flowers was Thompson of
Mahnomen county who on the second ballot deserted Gordon
and gave Mr. Flowers the sixty-five votes necessary to elect.

Each of these three men was needed and each played
his part effectively.

The socialist members had been instructed by their party
organization to vote for no one but a socialist; so they obeyed
orders and voted for Woodfill on the first ballot, but left the
house before the second ballot was taken.

How these instructions were secured would make an
interesting chapter if the details could be learned.

I don't think Mr. Woodfill should be blamed very much.
He merely obeyed the order of his party, and yet there should

The Minnesota Legislature of 1915

have been no party orders. Both Devoid and Woodfill were
elected as non-partisans, not as Socialists.

Those who voted for Mr. Flowers were:
Baker Haislet Novak

Baldwin Harrison, J. M. Papke

Barten Harrison, H. H. Pendergast

Bessette Hinds Pless

Borgen Hynes Ribenack

Bouck Indrehus Rodenberg

Boyd Kuntz Sawyer

Brown Larimore Seebacn

Burrows Lennon Schrooten

Carmichael Leonard Sliter

Condon Lydiard Smith

Davis McGrath Spooner

Dunleavy . McLaughlin Steen

Dwyer Malm berg Stoetzel

Erickson Miner Sundheimer

Ferrier Minnette Swenson

Flowers Moeller Syverson

Gerlick Mueller Thompson, A. L.

Oilman Nelson Thornton

Girling Neitzel Welch

Greene Nimocks Wilkins

Hafften Norm

Those who voted for Mr. Gordon were:
Adams Hompe Pikop

Anderson Hulbert Pratt

Bendlxen Johnson, M. Putnam

Bernard Johnson, J. T. Sanborn

Bjorge Kneeland Searls

Bjorklund Knutson Scott

Bjornson Konzen Sorflaten

Boehmke Larson Southwick

Christiansen Lattin Stenvick

Corning Lee Stevens

Dare Madigan Swanson

Dealand Marschalk Teigen, A. F.

Flinn Marwin Teigen, L. O.

Frye Morken Thompson, H. O.

Gill Murphy Tollefson

Gordon Nordgren Vasaly

Grant Norton Warner

Guilford Olien Wefald

Hauser Parker Weld

Hogenson Peterson, A. Wilson

Holmes Peterson, A. M. Wold

In the contest for speaker Mr. Spooner played a peculiar

He has always posed as a temperance man, and has
always voted for county option; but he and Gordon have not
been friends for many years, and he refused to support his
old time enemy.

Neither would Mr. Spooner declare for Flowers. It was

generally believed that he would not object to having the

10 The Minnesota Legislature of 1915

speakership fall into his own lap if neither Flowers nor
Gordon could secure it.

Nearly at the last moment he declared for Flowers, and
it is believed that he took Sawyer with him. It is said on
pretty good authority that Spooner holds a second mortgage
on Sawyer's Montana fruit farm. I do not know how true
this is; but, whatever the reason, Mr. .Spooner seems to wield
a most powerful influence over Mr. Sawyer, an influence
which showed itself all through the session.

Mr. Spooner was made chairman of the two most import-
ant committees Appropriations and Efficiency and Economy.

When Mr. Flowers had been elected speaker many
believed that the cause of county option was dead, but they
proved to be poor prophets.

The liquor interests had used up all their ammunition
on the speakership contest.

The people back home were soon heard from in tones
most emphatic.

This threw a wholesome fear into the leaders of the
liquor interests. They began to suspect that detectives were
on the watch; and concluded that it would not be safe to
attempt anything very crooked.

Many of them even believed that Gov. Hammond would
veto a county option bill; but here again they were wrong.
And thus again was the old truth exemplified that "out of
evil good may come."


Mr. Flowers, all through the long contest for the speaker-
ship, promised to be fair to all in the appointment of com-

In his address to the members, after being elected speaker,
he reiterated that promise.

How well he kept his pledge may be seen from the way
he distributed chairmanships and made up his committees.

The committee on rules was very properly composed en-
tirely of men who had supported him for speaker.

In general they reported the reformed rules of 1913, but
with three very important exceptions as follows:

I. First, no provision was made for putting the mem-
bers of any committee on record. This left the door open
for killing bills in committee with no possibility of knowing
who did it.

II. The committee of the whole House was empowered
to kill bills with no chance to put the members on record.

III. All credentials of newspaper representatives must
be submitted to the rules committee. This gave the rules
committee power to exclude any newspaper man they pleased.
It was plainly intended "to get" the present writer, who
was not wanted there by Mr. Lydiard, the ruling power in
the rules committee.

In fact Mr. Lydiard notified me about the second or third
day of the session that I would not be permitted to come
on the floor of the House at all.

The Minnesota Legislature of 1915 11

"But, Mr. Lydiard," said I, "I am the duly authorized
representative of the St. Paul Daily News."

"Never mind, that won't go. This is not the Rines ad-
ministration, and you can't be here."

"I don't know how much power you are going to have
here, Mr. Lydiard, but if you want to try such a stunt as that,
I think I shall rather enjoy it. We can certainly have
some fun."

No further attempt, of any serious nature, was made to
exclude the "News representative" from full and free access
to all sessions of the House and the committee meetings.

About a dozen of the Gordon men got together and drew
up amendments to the rules, covering these three points and
providing further that all persons who should appear to
advocate or oppose any bill at a public hearing must give
name and address, and state whom they represented.

These amendments were offered to the rules committee
with the suggestion that the said amendments were vital
and must be incorporated in the rules.

The rules committee gracefully took their medicine. Evi-
dently they did not care to risk a contest.

It can hardly be claimed by the rules committee that
these matters were mere oversights on their part. For pub-
licity is of the most vital importance, and their proposed rules
carefully provided for no publicity at all.

As amended by the Gordon men, the rules are now the
best ever adopted by a Minnesota legislature.

They now provide for the fullest possible publicity of
all that goes on, not only on the floor of the House but also in
committees, where most of the crooked work has heretofore
been done.

The Committees.

It is probably only human that Mr. Flowers should re-
ward his own supporters with chairmanships and places on
responsible committees, but it hardly looks fair to load up
the temperance committee, for example, with nine of the
most bitter opponents of all temperance legislation, headed
by James Dwyer of Minneapolis.

James Dwyer was a member of the 1913 House, and lined
up consistently with the "wets" in every contest. On
county option he voted "No." He also voted "No" on the
O'Neill "road house" bill, which passed the House and Senate,
but was defeated in conference. Its purpose is to deny saloon
licenses except in incorporated cities and villages where there
is police protection.

The real fight on the Wallace-Fosseen abatement act was
in the House when a series of amendments was offered. It
was late in the session, and passage of any amendment would
have thrown the bill back into the Senate, where it would
have died. On five of the amendments the roll was called,
and Mr. Dwyer voted "Aye" on all of them. On final passage
of the bill there were only eleven negative votes, and Mr.
Dwyer was one of eighty-eight voting for it.

12 The Minnesota Legislature of 1915

Best Committees Gobbled.

In twenty-two important committees the Flowers men
had 245 places, with eighteen of the chairmanships, and the
Gordon men. 131 places. This does not count the judiciary
committee, which by custom includes all the lawyers of the
House, and contained fifteen Flowers men to twenty-one
Gordon men.

Several of the ablest men in the House, who had supported
Gordon for speaker, were given very little committee work.
This was plainly intended to put them where they could wield
no influence. But it did not work out that way; for these
men had more leisure to "hunt woodchucks" and a better
chance to kill them.

After the county option bill had passed, the Flowers
organization rapidly fell to pieces. There was nothing left
to hold it together.

This situation was forcibly illustrated by. the following

Wholly by accident I overheard Mr. Spooner say to Job
Lloyd, the speaker's private secretary: "By God, we have
got to find out who is running this House. We must know
whether we have got any organization or not."

These are possibly not the exact words, but they convey
the idea.

Later, shortly before the Gordon committee bills were
to come up, Mr. Spooner was standing by the reporter's table
talking to Mr. Nagle, when he spoke about as follows, re-
ferring to the Gordon bills: "They can't do anything with
them. We have got seventy votes pledged to kill them."

When these bills came up a few days later, six of them
passed. The budget bill had only one vote against it, Mr.
Haislet from Governor Hammond's home county. The' others
passed by very large majorities, excepting the bill to put the
fire marshal's department under the insurance commissioner.
Even this bill was passed sixty-seven to forty-seven, leaving
sixteen members not voting.

Mr. Spooner, even, voted for the budget bill. He voted
against the bill to abolish the game and fish commission,
and give the Governor power to appoint the commissioner.
On all the other Gordon bills, which came up in the afternoon,
Mr. Spooner did not vote. He answered to roll call at 2:30
P. M. and was present all the afternoon, but apparently did
not care to go on record.

For weeks Spooner had been hard at work for his
big "efficiency and economy" bill, as it was called, and was
plainly doing what he could to kill off the Gordon bills to
reform in some simple and effective way, the most glaring
evils of the state administration.

But it did not work out according to Spooner s forecast.

His bill gradually lost standing and never came to a
vote. The more it was discussed the fewer friends it had.
The organization was powerless to save it, even with the
Governor's help.

Legislative Expenses.

So far as supplies were concerned, the Legislature of
1915 cost the people less than previous sessions of recent

The Minnesota Legislature of 1915 13

times. Mr. Haislet, chairman of the committee on legislative
expenses, and Chief Clerk Oscar Arneson both took great
care in purchasing supplies to get the lowest possible prices
and to purchase only the necessary amounts.

But there was not the same economy in the matter ot
clerks, stenographers, doorkeepers, etc. Far from it. Every
man who voted for Flowers for speaker exacted some of the
patronage and got it, with the result that there were pages,
doorkeepers, clerks, etc., with nothing to do but stand around
in the way, or wander about the Capitol killing time. They
had little to do but draw their pay. There were nine clerks
at $10 per day, where three have usually been enough.

The Speaker.

Speaker Flowers tried to be fair, tho some of his

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Online LibraryC. J. (Carl J.) BuellThe Minnesota Legislature of 1915 → online text (page 1 of 13)