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The Constitution provides that the General Assembly of Maryland shall meet every two years, on the first Wednesday in January, and that it may continue in session so long as, in its judgment, the public interest may require, not exceeding, however, ninety days. In pursuance of this Constitutional mandate you have assembled today, and I welcome you to Annapolis with the earnest hope that your deliberations may be harmonious and fraught with wise legislation for the promotion of the public welfare. The people of Maryland have delegated to you great powers. You will, I am sure, exercise them in that spirit which places patriotism above partisanship. One of the duties required of me as Governor is to inform you of the condition of the State and recommend for your consideration such measures as seem to me necessary and expedient. This I shall do briefly. +.
Before taking up the condition of the administrative affairs of the State, I wish to direct your attention to abuses that have prevailed in the past in the matter of legislative expenses and proceedings. .
Chapter 681 of the Acts of 1904 (page 1218) makes provision for eighteen officers and employes for the Senate and twenty-six for the House of Delegates, and appropriates $20,465 for their pay. This number of officers and employes has always been elected early in each Session, and, as they became necessary, additional ones were subsequently appointed as the respective Houses directed.
The House of Delegates, following the precedent established in 1896, has, at each Session since then, authorized the Speaker to appoint additional clerks, employes, etc. (See House Journal, 1904, page 32.)
The record of legislative expenses for the Session of 1904, shows that there were on the pay rolls of the two Houses 198 officers, employes and clerks, not including 45 laborers and 75 additional engrossing clerks appointed at the end of the Session.
The total pay of these employes amounted to $118,460.50, being $51,367.05 more than was paid to the 128 members of the Senate and House. The compensation and mileage paid in 1904 to members and employes, amounted to $185,552.55, which is a very much greater amount than was expended for similar purposes by any previous Legislature. This scandalous and reckless squandering of the people's money cannot be justified.
EXTRA PAY AND GRATUITIES.
Another legislative custom which is wrong and pernicious is the passing of orders, in the rush and heedlessness of the closing hours of the Session, giving extra pay to favorite officers and employes, and gratuities to persons not employed by either House. This is a species of graft which should not be tolerated.
The compensation provided by law for officers and employes is liberal and ample and I believe it is unlawful to increase the same by a mere order of either House, in the face of the Statute fixing definitely their pay.
ENIROLLMIENT OF BILLS.
The enrollment of all bills, after they have been passed, and before being presented to the Governor for his signature, offers another opportunity for extravagance.
If the provision of the Constitution which says that “No bill shall be read a third time until it shall have been actually engrossed for a third reading’’ is obeyed, then there is no necessity for re-writing or enrolling a bill before presenting it to the Governor.
When a bill is actually engrossed before it is read a third time, it becomes when passed a true and perfect bill, and is at Once ready for the Great Seal of the State and for presentation to the Governor for his signature.
This custom of enrolling or re-copying of bills, after their final passage, subjects them to errors by incompetent clerks, or to interpolations and fraudulent changes in their text by designing persons. &
You should abolish this old custom of enrolling bills after they have been passed, and adopt a new method of procedure in handling bills, which will expedite legislation and do away with the necessity of appointing additional engrossing clerks to enroll bills after the Legislature has adjourned.
Such a method will not only save a large cost to the State but it will enable the Governor to pass upon all bills and to sign or veto them while the Legislature is in Session.
DANGER IN HASTY LEGISLATION.
The postponement of final action on bills until the last days of the Session has resulted in much hasty and bad legislation.
During the Session of 1904 not one bill was passed in the month of January and only forty-nine in February ; while in the last twelve working days of the Session 484 bills were passed. Thus, a great mass of important legislation was crowded into the closing hours of the Session,