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During the excellent administration of the State Library by the present incumbent, the 39,000 volumes have been rearranged and a card catalogue made.
Many valuable pamphlets have been examined, classified and made accessible, and improved library methods adopted.
STATE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER.
The report of the State Insurance Commissioner shows that the receipts from this department have largely increased since the present incumbent was appointed. There is no reason why this increase should not be kept up if the department continues to be wisely conducted and the Insurance Laws so amended as to conform to the changing demands of business. For the past fiscal year the receipts were $166,795.09, while in 1895 they were $134, 100.98. I ask your attention to the recommendations made by the commissioner.
The Fish Commissioners have been most energetic, and from all sections of the State the results of their labors have been commended. Their work should continue to receive liberal encouragement.
BUREAU OF INDUSTRIAL STATISTICS.
The Bureau of Industrial Statistics has been ably conducted.
report for the year 1898 contains for the first time statistical tables dealing with the industries of Maryland outside of Baltimore City, besides having much other useful and reliable information.
LIVE STOCK SANITARY BOARD.
The Live Stock Sanitary Board has made itself one of the most useful branches of the State Government. The scope of the Board was enlarged by the Act of 1898, which placed upon it the duty of inspecting the premises of those dairies from which milk was shipped to the cities and towns. It is important to note that the constitutionality of this Act was attacked, but the legality of the measure has been affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
STATE PRINTING. Money can be saved to the State if the General Assembly will provide means for the concentration of the State printing under the management of one person. Under the present law, the Clerk of the Court of Appeals biennially advertises for and lets a contract for State printing. This contract, however, covers only about one-third of all the printing that is paid for out of the State Treasury. Nearly all the State Bureaus contract for their own printing, which is paid for out of their regular appropriatious. I would suggest a Public Printer, with authority to do the work himself or contract for the same.
FIRE PROTECTION TO STATE HOUSE.
The General Assembly of 1898 appropriated $3,000 to be expended for improvements in the Electrical Equipment of the State House to reduce the danger from fire. This work has been completed, and additional fire protection has been secured by placing on each floor and in different parts of the buildings reels of hose attached to water plugs.
Every safeguard should be thrown around our elections so. that they may be made the free and fair index of the popular will. To this end I think that legislation similar to that in force in other States, and known as the Corrupt Practices Act, would go far towards reducing corruption at the polls. A Primary Election Law should also be enacted, under the provisions of which it may be possible for any reputable citizen to become a candidate for public office. As it now stands, it is frequently the case that only the man with money has any hope of winning in the primaries, and then only if he be the choice of the party organization. This not only precludes worthy citizens of limited means from the realization of honorable political ambitions, but compels the people at the General Election to make their selection between two men neither of whom is the first choice of the majority of the voters.
The Constitution and law should be so changed that contested elections in the case of Clerks of Courts and Registers of Wills, instead of being decided by the House of Delegates, should be passed upon by the Judges of the several Circuit Courts, and in Baltimore City, by the Superior Court of that City. The question at issue in such cases is purely one of law and fact, and in no sense political.
The policing of a large city like Baltimore ought to be kept entirely apart from partisan politics, and no political party should be charged with or assume single-handed the preservation of order; every citizen, no matter what his political connection may be, has a right to demand the best protection possible of his life and property. The time has arrived when the Board of Police Commissioners of Baltimore City should be reorganized upon a non-partisan basis. In order to secure undivided responsibility, the power of appointment of Police Commissioners should rest with the Governor, with the consent of the Senate.
The steady dimunition of the oyster supply of the Chesapeake Bay ought to receive careful consideration. The time has come when the State must take some action for improving the wasteful methods at present employed in catching oysters, and for the encouragement of oyster planting. The oyster fund derived from Tongers' and Dredgers' Licenses continues to be insufficient for the support of the State Fishery Force.
MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA BOUNDARY LINE. For some years past at various times difficulties have occurred between the citizens of Maryland and the Oyster Police Force of Virginia along the line between the two States. Arrests have been made of the citizens of Maryland, who have appealed to the Executive, claiming that the arrests were made while they were pursuing their daily labor either of oystering or crabbing within the territory of Maryland.
In order to avoid these difficulties commissioners were appointed by the Executives of Maryland and Virginia to mark the boundary line, and their reports, on file, show that the work has been satisfactorily done.
AMENDMENT OF MUNICIPAL CHARTERS.
It sometimes happens that an important amendment to a municipal charter, containing features obnoxious to a majority of the citizens it is to affect, is passed by the General Assembly at the instance of the local officers. To obviate this difficulty I think it well that the General Assembly should require a popular vote on such measures before they become effective.
STATE AUDITOR. I wish to renew the recommendation which I made in my Message to the General Assembly of 1898, that provision be made for a State Auditor, whose duty shall be to examine the accounts of public officers who receive and disburse State funds, and of institutions that receive State aid.
MARYLANDERS IN CIVIL WAR.
The General Assembly of 1896 authorized me to appoint a commission, without compensation, to compile and publish a History of the Maryland Volunteers in the Civil War. This work has been conscientiously done, and contains the records of 62,000 soldiers and sailors who were an honor to the nation and to the State.
I would recommend that a similar publication be made of the names of Marylanders who volunteered their services during the war with Spain.
SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR. On the first call for volunteers by the President, April 23, 1898, the State of Maryland furnished one regiment of infantry (Fifth Regiment Maryland United States Volunteers) commanded by Col. R. Dorsey Coale, consisting of fifty officers and 961 enlisted men, aggregating 1011, and two battalions of infantry (First Maryland United States Volunteers) commanded by Col. W. P. Lane, consisting of thirty-two officers and 626 enlisted men, aggregating 658.
On the second call by the President the State furnished one battalion of infantry, consisting of sixteen officers and 426 enlisted men, aggregate 442.
The total strength of these commands was ninety-eight officers and 2,013 enlisted men, aggregate 2,111-this was the full quota of the State asked for by the War Department. In addition to this the Navy Department on the first call and subsequently was furnished twenty-six officers and 430 enlisted men, making a total of 124 officers and 2,443 men, aggregating 2,567 furnished by the State.
The Maryland Naval Battalion manned the United States Auxiliary Cruiser “Dixie" and several United States Monitors. The men comprising the crew of the Dixie were the only organization from Maryland which had actual war service, having participated in the capture of Ponce, Peurto Rico. The State appropriated $200,000 for preparing troops for the war. Of this sum $125,000 was used. Vouchers have been filed with the War Department. $101,080.40 has been refunded to the State, and I hope that the full amount will be shortly returned.
No troops furnished the government were more expeditiously and fully clothed, armed and equipped for service and sent forward than those from the State of Maryland.
Every care and comfort was extended to the sick soldiers