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PROPOSED REVISION OF THE RULES.
The first question of moment with which the 1913 Legislature had to deal after organization, was the proposed changes in the rules governing each House.
That change in the rules is desirable, is admitted. But the changes proposed were so astonishingly radical that the proposals were, in the main, rejected. The rejected provisions, however, indicate the drift of development of the legislative system, and in this find their chief importance. The drift is:
(1) Toward a one-house Legislature.
(2) Toward curtailing, or at least controlling, newspaper and other comment and criticism of legislative activities.
The experience of the 1911 session had been that the governing rules failed to meet the requirements of the Legislature. Because of their indefinite provisions the regularity of the procedure followed in the passage of several important measures was brought into serious question.88 Then again, the Initiative and Referendum amendment to the State Constitution, under which the 1913 Legislature was to convene, required some definite system of procedure in urgency cases requiring the sus
83 The Local Option bill, for example, was at one time in danger because of the ambiguous wording of the joint rules governing free conference reports. See “Story of the California Legislature of 1911," Chapter XVII, page 213.
pension of the referendum provision of the State Constitution.34
A committee of six-consisting of three Senators and three Assemblymen—was accordingly appointed to draw up a set of rules to be presented to the 1913 Legislature. For the Senate, President Wallace appointed Senator Leroy A. Wright 35 of San Diego to be chairman of
34 The amendment provides that no act passed by the Legislature shall become effective until ninety days after the adjournment of the Legislature which passed such act. This is to give the public opportunity to invoke the referendum against it. But exception is made that “whenever it is deemed necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety that a law shall go into immediate effect, a statement of the facts constituting such necessity shall be set forth in one section of the act, which section shall be passed only upon a yea and nay vote, upon a separate roll call thereon." Acts containing such emergency clauses, under the terms of the amendment, go into immediate effect.
The question naturally arises, how shall such urgency clause be treated, and when shall it be voted upon? No such provision is contained in the Constitution. The original draft of the rules compiled by Senator Wright provided that the clause should be treated as an amendment to the bill, and the vote upon it be taken just before the measure was put to final passage. The question upon which the urgency vote was to be put was: Shall the urgency clause remain part of the bill? If, under Wright's proposed plan, the clause received a two-thirds vote, the bill could be put on its immediate passage, for no change would be made in the measure. But if the urgency clause failed of adoption then the bill would be changed, and its reprinting would be necessary. The rule governing the urgency clause as finally accepted by both Houses, however, reads:
“Upon the third reading of an act which is an urgency measure within the meaning of Section 1 of Article IV of the State Constitution, the presiding officer shall direct that the section of said act setting forth the facts constituting the necessity for such urgency (which shall be known as the urgency section) be then read and put to vote. The question shall be thus stated: 'Shall this section setting forth the urgency features of this bill be passed?' If upon such final vote two-thirds of all the members elected to the House in which the vote is being taken shall not vote in the affirmative, no further action shall be taken on the bill; but, in case an identical bill without such an emergency clause be again introduced into such house, such bill shall be placed on file without reference to any committee."
35 The incongruity of this appointment was apparent. One of the most important duties of the committee, for example, was to provide rules for meeting Constitutional provisions governing the Referendum. Senator Wright was entirely out of sympathy with this reform, being the only member of the 1911 session who voted against the Initiative and Referendum amendment.
The argument has been advanced that in as much as Senator
the committee. The Senators named to serve with Wright were Cartwright and Boynton.
The Assembly committee was made up of Sutherland, Held and Young. But Held was not returned to the Legislature in 1913, while Young was elected Speaker. Clark of Oakland and Bohnett of San Jose were accordingly named at the opening of the 1913 session to take the places of Held and Young.
But as was anticipated when the committee was appointed, Senator Wright did the work and prepared the draft of the rules. Copies of this draft were sent to the various members of the committee shortly before the session opened. The rules thus presented were not inappropriately known as the "Wright rules."
The draft which Wright submitted to his fellow committeemen bore upon its face evidence of great care and labor in preparation.36 No more carefully considered set of rules had ever been prepared for any Legislature. And the remarkable feature of them was, that, although compiled by perhaps the most conservative member of the Legislature—the last, with Senator Finn of San Francisco, of the group, who, at the 1909 session
Wright moved the appointment of the committee on rules revision, custom and courtesy required President Wallace to appoint him chairman of the committee. But the custom of naming the mover of a motion to appoint a committee chairman of such committee, is by no means general, nor is the courtesy demand recognized. At the 1911 session, for example, Senator Shanahan moved the appointment of a committee to investigate conditions growing out of the printing of school text-books. But President Wallace appointed another to be chairman of the committee. At the 1913 session Senator Beban moved the appointment of a committee to investigate white slavery scandals. But President Wallace did not name Beban to be chairman of the committee.
36 It was said at the time that to secure data for his work Senator Wright had corresponded with representatives of the Legislatures of most of the States of the Union. The draft of the rules which he presented bore out the statement.
had supported the Wolfe-Leavitt combination on important issues—the rules were, in one important particular at least, far in advance of even the progressive Legislature of 1913. So far as the governing rules could do so, the checks and balances of a two-House Legislature were eliminated by putting the committee organization on what was practically a one-house basis.37
Under the prevailing system, the two Houses being absolutely independent, each House appoints its own committees, which act absolutely independently of the committees of the other.
Thus for example, a bill affecting agricultural interests introduced in the Assembly, goes to the Assembly Committee on Agriculture.
Persons interested in the passage or defeat of the bill must present their case before the committee. If the bill finally reaches the Senate, it is referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture. The proponents and the opponents of the measure must for a second time go to Sacramento and again present their cases, this time before the Senate Committee. These dual hearings unquestionably make a deal of extra work for the legislators, and impose avoidable hardship and expense upon those interested in legislation. Of late years, joint committee hearings have grown in popularity. Under the joint committee arrangement where many persons wish to be heard on a given bill, corresponding committees
37 Senator Wright was one of the fifteen Senators who voted against the submission of a Constitutional amendment. (S. C. A. No. 73) to the electors, to do away with one House of the Legislature. See Senate Journal, May 9, 1913. This amendment is discussed in Chapter XXIX.
from the two Houses meet in joint session, thus obviating the necessity of two independent hearings.
The Wright rules provided for the appointment of thirty-four committees made up of both Senators and Assemblymen, to do the committee work of both Houses. To each committee were to be appointed two more Assemblymen than Senators. The first Senator named was to act as chairman of the committee to which he had been appointed; the first Assemblyman named was to be vice-chairman. It was further provided, however, that any of the committees could reorganize by electing its own chairman and vice-chairman. Thus, at any time it would have been possible for the Assemblymen of the committee, being in majority control, to force reorganization by naming both chairman and vice-chairman.
The arguments used for and against the proposed radical change in committee organization were neither strong nor convincing.
Senator Wright urged, for example, that inasmuch as there are not at the State Capitol sufficient committee rooms to accommodate committee organization of both Houses, the proposed change should be accepted. But it is clearly the duty of the State to house its Legislature properly. If the available committee rooms are not sufficient, then more committee rooms should be provided.
On the other hand, opponents of the proposed change seriously contended that committee chairmen would, under such an arrangement, lose their importance. The conserving of the importance of committee chairmen was