Governor Robert L. Williams State of the State Address, 1915

Since Oklahoma is a close neighbor, this Address makes the Texas Tidbits category:


State of the State
Governor Robert L. Williams
January 15, 1915
At the beginning of the present quadrennium in the government of this State, I
desire to submit for the consideration of Your Honorable Bodies, as follows:
At the extraordinary session of the Legislature of 1913, an act was passed
providing for the construction of a State Capitol. By this act, a State Capitol Commission
was created and the Commissioners selected and appointed by the Legislature, and such
selection and appointment approved in the bill; which bill was also approved by the
Governor. Said Commissioners were to be commissioned by Concurrent Resolution of
the Senate and House of Representatives, which was to be signed by the President pro
tempore of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives. The appointment of
the members of the Commission was to “be construed to be the act of the Legislature,
consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the tenure of office of the
Commissioners elected and appointed” as provided therein, was to begin with the
approval of said Act, and the term to end “with the completion of the construction of the
Capitol building proper.” Said Commission is required to maintain its office and hold its
sessions at the seat of government. “Each Commissioner shall receive a salary of three
thousand ($3,000.00) dollars per annum, payable monthly, and shall be allowed
reimbursement for all railroad fare actually incurred and all hotel and traveling expenses
actually expended in carrying out the purpose of this Act when away from the seat of
government; said items of salary and expense shall be audited, approved and allowed by
the Commission against the appropriation for the construction of the State Capitol
provided herein.”
The State Capitol Commission, as soon as practicable after its organization, is
required to proceed to select a plan for a State Capitol, provided the reasonable cost of
said plan of said Capitol building proper shall not exceed one and one-half million
dollars. After plans for this building have been adopted by said Commission, contract or
contracts are to be made in writing for the construction of the entire building by a
contractor, individual or corporate, who may undertake the whole work, or the
Commission may divide the work into appropriate classes and make separate contracts as
to either of them as it may deem most advisable and for the best interest of the State, or
may adopt and carry out other plans for the building of said State Capitol. All contracts
for the construction of said building or for designated classes of the work thereof shall be
let to the lowest and best bidder therefore [sic]; “nor shall any contract or contracts take
effect until all of said work for constructing said State Capitol shall have been contracted
The Commission is required to appoint a practical builder or other specially
qualified person to act as superintendent of the construction of said Capitol Building. It
is made his duty to see that all contracts made with the Commission are faithfully
performed; that all material furnished and work done shall be such as is required by law
or the contract thereof; that all duties imposed upon the architects are faithfully
performed by him and his subordinates, and that no provisions of the contract are
violated. Said superintendent is to receive as compensation such sum as the Commission
shall deem reasonable, not exceeding eight ($8.00) dollars per day for each and every
day, or part of a day, he is actually engaged in the performance of his duties.
Said Act also apropriates [sic] “out of any money in the State Treasury, not
otherwise appropriated, for the purpose of constructing a State Capitol, as provided in
this Act, the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand ($250,000.00) dollars, said sum of
two hundred and fifty thousand ($250,000.00) dollars to be available for use by the
Capitol Commission during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1915.” Also, said Act further
appropriates the sum of four hundred and ninety-seven thousand, two hundred and
seventy-four and 72-100 ($497,274.72) dollars from another specified fund, making a
total appropriation of seven hundred and forty-seven thousand, two hundred and seventyfour
and 72-100 ($747,274.72) dollars, that is made by the Legislature for the erection of
this Capitol building.
Said Act provides that whilst the Legislature is not in session, said
Commissioners may be removed by the joint action of the President pro tempore of the
Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives. It also provides for the employment
of a secretary to said Commission at a salary of two thousand ($2,000.00) dollars.
Section 7 of said Act provides that “All bills, claims and demands for labor
performed, work done or material furnished, shall be made out in duplicate by the person
or persons, or corporation or company, presenting the same to the Commission for
allowance and be passed on by the Commission at a session thereof.” The provision is
made for the payment of same by warrants drawn on the State Auditor.
The Act further provides that no contract for the building of the Capitol or any
part thereof shall be valid until the entire building has been contracted for. Such contract
cannot be legally entered into until an appropriation is available to meet the entire cost of
the building. This has been settled by the Supreme Court of this State in Campbell et al.
v. State ex rel. Brett, 23 Okla. 109, 99 Pac. 778.
Section 55 of Article 5 of the Constitution provides that:
“No money shall ever be paid out of the treasury of this State, nor any of its
funds, nor any of the funds under its management, except in pursuance of an
appropriation by law, nor unless such payments be made within two and one-half years
after the passage of such appropriation act.”
On account of said provision, it may become necessary for some part of the
$747,274.72 to be re-appropriated.
Section 12, of Article 5 of the Constitution, requires every bill passed by the
Legislature making appropriation of money to be presented to the Governor for his
approval or his disapproval.
I call your attention not only to the legal obstacles to the letting of the contract for
the completion of the Capitol building under the present bill, but, also, to the
responsibility of the Governor under the terms of the Constitution in the raising of funds
for its completion. Under the terms of this Act, the Capitol Commission has no fixed
tenure, but is to hold office until the Capitol building proper is completed. Necessarily,
the time of completion depends, in a measure, upon the will, desire and inclination of the
Commission. As a rule, when provisions are made for the payment out of a fund of
salaries or expenses, limitations or restriction under the terms of the Act are imposed for
the protection of the taxpayers. Hence, my duty to point these matters out, with
suggestions as to corrections. A reasonably speedy construction and completion of the
State Capitol building is essential. At the present time, the State officers are housed in
different parts of the city, and the Legislature, when in session, convenes at still a
different place. This has a tendency to prevent efficiency and economy. If all the
different departments of government, with their various employes [sic], were quartered in
one building, or in buildings located at the same place, by way of closer administrative
organization, and the saving of time, greater efficiency and economy would result. In
addition, a rental for these various quarters, approximating an amount equal to the
interest on the cost of the State Capitol, is now borne by the State. The advisability of the
State owning at the earliest reasonable date, its own State House, cannot be seriously
questioned. This must be done, however, on practical lines, with a special view of
protecting the taxpayers. Our chief duty is to them. The $747,274.72 already provided
and appropriated, has been taken from them. The additional necessary funds for its
completion must be taken from the taxpayers of this State. The expenditure of this
money must be made with every safeguard around it for the protection of these
Accordingly, I recommend:
That the bill passed by the extraordinary session of the Legislature in 1913,
providing for the construction of the State Capitol, be amended so as to provide for the
appointment of a Citizens’ Committee, to serve without pay, and to consist of not less
than five, nor more than seven members, a majority of whom may not reside in any one
county. The duty of this Committee will be to make an examination as to the plans
drawn and adopted for said Capitol building, and at stated times to examine the work on
said building as it is constructed; and report the result of its investigation to the Governor,
a copy to be filed with the Secretary of State, and also, with each House of the
Legislature, when in session. This Citizens’ Committee will be both a shield and a
sword; a shield to protect the officers of the State in the construction of this building,
when they are right, and a sword to prevent wrong or imposition being done.
The question as to the power of the Legislature to delegate to the President pro
tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives the authority to
remove the Capitol Commissioners is not clear. As to whether or not such power may be
delegated to such officers may be well doubted. If the occasion shall arise when said
Commissioners or any one of them should be removed, and the Legislature was not in
session, grave complications might then arise. If such power could not be thus delegated;
not to say anything about the unobservance of the provisions for the different co-ordinate
branches of the State Government being a check one upon the other.
I further recommend that the original bill be so amended as to place the power to
remove said Commissioners either with the Governor, or some other board of elective
Executive State officers; and further, that the bill be so amended as to provide that before
the contract which may be let by the State Capitol Commission becomes effective and
binding on the State, the same must be approved by the Governor; and that if the
Legislature is at that time in session, the same must also be submitted to the Legislature,
when, if the Legislature should disapprove the contract, though the same had already
been entered into by the Capitol Commissioners, and approved by the Governor, it should
still be of no effect.
When the contract for the State Capitol shall have been let by the State Capitol
Commission, then its existence as such should cease. The question of the contractors’
complying with the contract must necessarily be determined by experts and provision is
made in the bill for the employing of an expert for that purpose. The general duty of the
Commission will be to employ this expert and draw their salaries and maintain an office
in accordance with the station of their position and have a secretary and other employes
[sic]. This duty can be exercised by the State Board of Affairs, or a Commission of exofficio
elective State officers just as effectively and without any cost to the State.
I therefore recommend that provision be made by law that after the contract is let
and approved, that within fifteen days the term of the office of the Capitol Commission
shall cease, and that the duties of that office shall then be exercised by a commission, to
be composed of certain elective State officers, to be named by the Legislature, or by the
State Board of Affairs.
The Legislature of 1913 passed an Act creating a Board of Prison Control for the
State Penitentiary at McAlester and the Oklahoma State Reformatory at Granite.
I respectfully recommend that by an Act of the Legislature, these duties be
imposed upon the Board of Affairs, with the exception of that duty imposed on the Board
of Prison Control as to the examining and investigating of applications for pardons,
paroles, or reprieves and commutations, together with applications to remit fines and
penalties. Provision should be made for this investigation to be made by a clerk, to be
known as Pardon Clerk to the Governor; provision being made, also, for stenographic
help for the Pardon Clerk. This contemplates that a complete record shall be made of the
hearings. I want to see the pardoning power exercised under the same care that
judgments and decrees of courts are entered, with a complete record made of all the
evidence and everything that is offered, with a view of securing executive clemency.
This should be reduced to writing and made of record, and the Pardon Clerk make his
findings of fact thereon, similar to a master in chancery or referee, and furnish the
applicant with such findings before same is presented to the Governor for his
determination as to whether clemency should be exercised. Safeguards must be thrown
around these applications for executive clemency, so that all shall stand on the same level
and footing, and the Chief Executive to be protected from imposition. The Board of
Control, if they are to make careful investigations and get the facts as contemplated in
this recommendation, would consume practically the entire four months time in which
the present statute permits the old board to serve, and, therefore, no time could
reasonably be given to the constructive administration of the prisons. The report of this
Prison Board of Control on pardons, reprieves and commutations can, under our
Constitution, be only advisory to the Governor. Under our constitutional provision it
cannot operate to be a limitation upon his power. At most, it is a matter of procedure
which may be essential to the acquiring of jurisdiction of the matter by the Governor.
The same essential procedure may be prescribed in the way of requiring the filing of
applications and giving notice of hearings before the Pardon Clerk. In prescribing such
procedure, exceptions in the cases of reprieves should be made. I suggest, further, that
the Governor be required to state in writing and make of official record his reasons for
granting pardons, reprieves and communications. By the abolishing of the Prison Board
and placing this work on the Board of Affairs, not only will efficiency, but, also,
economy operate; for if this board is to be retained and its work operate efficiently to the
State, it would be necessary to increase their compensation, and, also, to give them more
help and contingent expenses. In selecting the members of the Board of Affairs, I had
this in view. One member has had special experience in the line of handling prisoners
and is especially fitted in that respect.
In the two state prisons, to-wit: The one at McAlester and the other at Granite,
about fifteen hundred prisoners are confined. Whilst it is the duty of the State in
restraining them from society to endeavor by humane treatment to bring about a
reformation, yet in doing this, their labor should be utilized in such a way as to cause this
effort to be made by the State at as little expense as reasonably possible upon the
taxpaying citizenship.
I accordingly recommend for your consideration the employment of said inmates
in the penitentiary (1) upon the highways of the State and (2) for working them within the
walls in the manufacture of such things as are to be used by the State and its institutions;
(3) upon a State farm; and (4) where possible on irrigation projects.
It is not necessary to go into any argument as to the necessity for good roads.
That is self-evident. Article 16 of the Constitution directs the Legislature to establish a
Department of Highways with power to create improvement districts and to provide for
building and maintaining public roads and the utilization of convicts thereon. Under this
provision, local road districts may be formed upon the betterment plan. In addition, roads
may be built by townships, counties and State. I recommend that legislation may be had
so that all these systems may be combined, when desirable. Further, that provision be
made for the building of roads exclusively on the betterment plan by the improvement
districts, and also by townships or counties, or the State, separately, so as to leave the
proposition in a way to be worked out reasonably by these different agencies, separately
or combined.
The office of State Highway Commissioner should be continued with an adequate
salary; the business of the Highway Department being placed under the supervision and
regulation of the Board of Affairs. It is my desire that we shall build roads and that the
Highway Commissioner shall be a constructive working agent in bringing this about.
The people of this State must have good roads. Let’s devote our energies to that end. I
feel sure that we can accomplish this greatly desired result.
It is essential that too much technical observances should not be required in order
to cause taxes to become due and bear penalties. Therefore, the statute should be
amended so as to not require notice to the taxpayer as a condition precedent to his taxes
becoming due, in such a way as to bear penalties. However, under the depressed
conditions that exist in many parts of the State, occasioned by the general European war,
many people are not now able to pay their taxes.
Therefore, I recommend that a statute be passed, providing for a reasonable
extension of all taxes, the same to bear interest during such extension at the rate of six per
cent per annum, and that the State Board of Equalization may make still further
extensions at any time as to any county or counties, or entire State, under the same terms.
Otherwise, the penalty provided by law to obtain.
As to the tax on gas, petroleum or other crude oil when segregated from the
common source of supply beneath the surface and for taxing the same as property, each
producer should be required to pay a mining production tax of two per cent upon the
gross value of such production, at the point where the same is mined, according to the
market value thereof.
Three-fourths of all sums derived from such tax should be paid into the general
State fund, and the other fourth be applied to the maintenance of the common schools of
the county where the tax is collected. The larger portion should go to the State, on
account of the great agencies of the State, like the Corporation Commission and
inspections that have to do so much with said business, being borne at the general State
The farmer and producer should be encouraged to so market his crops as to get
reasonable prices therefore [sic]. If he is forced to rush the same upon the market, such
results may not be obtained. If the same are taxable, he would be required to sell the
same prior to the beginning of the tax year, or bear the burden of the tax upon the raw
product. This does not appear to me to be in accordance with the best interest of the
Therefore, I recommend the passage of an Act, so classifying farm products as not
to be subject to taxation.
We should cause the people to get money upon approved economical lines at as
low a rate of interest as reasonably possible. I accordingly recommend that real estate
loans be taken as security for State and county deposits; that only real estate mortgages
where the entire charges of interest, commission and everything, does not exceed eight
per cent, shall be taken for such security.
I further recommend the consideration and passage of an Act providing for the
formation and incorporation of rural credit unions, or co-operative associations for the
purpose of promoting thrift among their members, and to enable the members thereof,
when in need, to obtain for productive purposes moderate loans of money for short
periods and at reasonable rates of interest.
I further recommend for your consideration the formation of a state loan bank, so
as to establish a state-wide rural credit system. I urge that this be given careful
consideration and that we travel along safe economic lines, but that we do it patriotically
and wisely, so as to effectively bring relief to the people.
I further recommend for your careful consideration the devising of ways and
means of creating a marketing system through the agency of the Board of Agriculture.
The State Board of Equalization should be abolished and a State Tax Commission
created in its stead. To that end I recommend that Section 21, of Article 10, of the
Constitution, be so amended and that said Tax Commission be authorized to exercise the
powers of a State Board of Equalization, to adjust and equalize the value of real and
personal property and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by law, and
exercise not only administrative but judicial and legislative powers in the settlement of all
controversies over taxation, and to have exclusive jurisdiction over same, except that its
orders as to the equalization of property values and the settlement of tax controversies
may be reviewed by writ of error to the Supreme Court of the State. In addition it should
also be made the duty of the said Tax Commission to assess all railroad and public
service corporation property, to be reviewed by appeal by the Supreme Court of the State,
and biennially and at such other times as may be requested by the Governor report and
recommend such legislation as is necessary for revenues.
It is contemplated that these Commissioners shall be experts as to all matters of
taxation and in the course of its duty to become acquainted in detail with the taxable
property of this State so that no injustice may be done any taxpayer in the assessment or
equalization of property.
I recommend the repeal of the statute permitting municipalities to issue funding
bonds to cover deficiencies on account of the failure of revenue. This will have a
salutary influence toward restraining city officials within the revenue provided and cause
parties to be cautious in dealing with municipalities. This is a necessary safeguard in
order to protect taxpayers.
I recommend that land located outside of towns and cities shall be assessed only
once in every two years so as to reduce the expenses of assessment.
Provision should be made for the fixing and charging a fee by the Secretary of the
Corporation Commission for transcripts in appeals from its orders, and copies furnished
private parties; also fees to be collected by the Commission on all refunds made through
its intervention. These fees should be converted at stated times into the State Treasury.
Provision should, also, be made for charging fees for copies of all records furnished by
the various Executive Departments to parties desiring the same and for the converting of
these fees at stated times into the State Treasury. By this means revenues may be
acquired without any burden to the taxpayers, and these departments will, in a measure,
at least, be self-sustaining.
Every state agency with a few exceptions should be made at least partially selfsustaining.
The courts which are a necessary agency for the peaceable settlement of civil
controversies, and essential for good government, should not be supported entirely by the
taxpayers. The litigants in civil cases should at least bear a part of these burdens. There
is no reason why the peaceable man, who settles his matters without legal controversies,
should be taxed to furnish this legal luxury entirely to the litigious citizen. The record
shows that it costs the state on an average of about fifty dollars for every civil case
appealed to the Supreme Court. I accordingly recommend that a docket fee be taxed in
the sum of twenty-five dollars as a part of the costs in every such case to follow the result
of the case, provision being made by the statute for the plaintiff in error securing this cost
or depositing same and to recover judgment therefore if prevailing in the appeal.
Provision should be made, also, for the charging of a jury fee, so as to place a part
of the burdens upon the litigants in the trial courts and not cause the same to be borne
entirely by the taxpayers.
The assistants now provided by law for the office of the Clerk of the Supreme
Court should be reduced. Two assistants at $1,800.00 per year, and one assistant at
$1,200.00 per year, and another at $900.00 per year will be entirely adequate, with the
Clerk giving his personal attention to the duties of his office, as required by Section 11,
Article 2, of the Constitution.
The State, for clerical help, should not pay more for salaries than private
concerns. The same constructive business rule should control in departments of State as
in private concerns. In private concerns higher salaries are paid for heads of departments,
the balance of the work being done by clerks. Good clerks are available now at $100. per
month. I feel that I am going the limit when I agree in this message to approve
appropriations for two clerks at $1,800.00 per year; for some strict business concerns,
under the same circumstances, would consider that only one chief deputy would be
necessary. In determining the prices for help we should consider what salaries these
employes [sic] would likely draw in private employment. That should be the controlling
test. I have no disposition to be harsh on government employes [sic]. I only insist that
the employes [sic] of the State, for the same kind of work, are not entitled to any more
compensation than that usually received in private employment. I feel that it is our duty
to give the same careful consideration to the interests of the taxpayers that we would to
our own private interests, if these employes [sic] were to be paid by us.
The stenographers to the Justices of the Supreme Court should be required, as a
part of their official duties, to make copies of all opinions, where necessary, for the Clerk
of the Supreme Court. This to be done under rules and regulations to be prescribed by
the Justices of the Supreme Court. The statute should provide that it shall be made the
duty of the Justices of the Supreme Court to make orders and provide rules and
regulations for the stenographers to make copies of all opinions, as requested by said
Clerk. By this means an actual saving of between $2,500.00 and $3,000.00 per year can
be made to the State. I recommend that it be made a misdemeanor for the Clerk or any
employe [sic] to be interested directly or indirectly in the furnishing of copies of opinions
or records from any department of state whatever where provision is made by law for the
state to receive compensation for such work if it were done by an officer or employe [sic]
in such capacity.
The dockets of the Appellate Courts, especially as to civil cases, are considerably
congested. The Supreme Court being over two years behind. This is not occasioned by
the fault of the members of the Court, but is brought about by several causes, over which
the court has no control. (1) No limitation now exists as to appeals; (2) the cost of
appeals is now borne almost entirely by the taxpayers; (3) written opinions are required
by the Constitution in all cases; (4) so many new questions arising for determination; (5)
in that the congested condition of the docket encourages appeals for delay.
In trial courts, the speedy final determination of cases is essential. For proper
results to be had, not only must there be expedition in the trial, but also, in the Appellate
Court. In all cases, except as to questions of unliquidated damages, the trial should be
had in such a way and the record made so that upon appeal, if the proper judgment was
not rendered in the trial court, the Appellate Court may render the judgment that should
have been rendered without remanding it for a new trial. This is essential for the speedy
determination of litigation and saving expense, not only to the litigant, but also to the
I accordingly recommend that amendments to the Constitution be submitted so
that (1) appeals in civil cases to the Appellate Court may be limited by legislative
enactment; (2) that the Supreme Court may sit in divisions under such rules and
regulations as may be prescribed by law, the Criminal Court of Appeals to constitute the
division thereof as to appeals in criminal cases; the other divisions to consider appeals in
civil cases; a decision by any one division to be the judgment of the court; provided that
under certain rules and regulations same may be reviewed by the court en banc; and
further, to provide the manner in which the judges may be nominated and elected; (3) that
written opinions may be dispensed with in the Appellate Court under rules and
regulations to be prescribed by the Legislature; (4) that the Appellate Courts in civil
cases, except where there is an issue as to unliquidated damages, may without reversing
and remanding, render the judgment that ought to have been rendered in the trial court,
and as to appeals in criminal cases, may modify the judgment of the lower court without
reversing and remanding the same; (5) provide for the abolishing of the county court and
the placing of all jurisdiction, except that of the justice of the peace, in the District Court.
Demurrers and answers should be required to be filed at the same time so as to
expedite the trials. As to whether civil cases should be tried to a jury, rules and
regulations should be made, so that a jury and a non-jury docket may be made up and
thus save the expense of a jury during the period that the non-jury docket is being tried.
The office of Librarian and Marshal of the Supreme Court should be consolidated.
At present, each of these officers receive a salary of $1,500.00 per year. The Librarian
also has an assistant and a reference clerk, each of whom receive $1,000.00 per year. By
the consolidation of the office of Librarian and Marshal, at a salary of $1,500.00 per year,
the Librarian becoming ex-officio Marshal of the Supreme Court, the same results may
be had and this saving made to the taxpayers.
Sections 7021, 7022, 7023 and 7024, Revised Laws of Oklahoma, Annotated,
place the management of the Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane, located at Supply,
Oklahoma, under the control of a Board of Trustees composed of the Governor and two
other persons and provides for the holding of regular sessions at the Capitol on the first
Monday in January, April, July and October of each year, and also for special sessions.
The affairs of the hospital generally are placed under the control of this board. The
expense of this local board can be reasonably dispensed with and its duties imposed upon
the Board of Affairs. I recommend that this board be abolished and that the Board of
Affairs be charged with these duties with the exception that the Superintendent, Steward
and Physician be appointed by the Governor direct, subject to be removed at any time
within the discretion of the Governor. Section 2032 of the Revised Laws of Oklahoma
provides that the said Board of Trustees shall appoint three competent practicing
physicians, residents of this State, to constitute a Board of Examiners of said hospital. I
recommend that the Governor of the State be authorized to appoint these physicians in
lieu of said board, and that the Board of Examiners transmit a copy of their report in
duplicate, one to the Governor and the other to the Board of Affairs.
Sections 7040, 7045 and 7046, Revised Laws of Oklahoma, 1910, Annotated,
creates a board for the control and management of the East Oklahoma Hospital for the
Insane at Vinita, the board to consist of three persons to be appointed by the Governor. I
recommend that this board be abolished and all the duties of that board be vested in the
Board of Affairs, except that the Superintendent, Steward be appointed by the Governor.
By this means the expense of two boards will be dispensed with, and the business
management of these institutions placed in the hands of men appointed to transact
business affairs of this State. I desire to see a profitable dairy and poultry farm in
connection with these institutions, and everything done reasonably possible toward
making these institutions self-sustaining.
Under Section 19, of Article 2, of the Constitution, twelve petit jurors are required
in courts of record other than county courts, and six petit jurors in county courts, and a
grand jury is to be composed of twelve jurors. As provision is contemplated for the
conferring of the jurisdiction of the county court upon the district court, I recommend that
provision be submitted to amend Sections 18 and 19, of Article 2, of the Constitution, so
that eight jurors shall constitute all grand and petit juries in courts of record, and provide
that juries may be empaneled in the justice court under rules and regulations prescribed
by law but without cost to the state, county or municipality, and further provide that
provision may be made by the Legislature for jury fees to be required to be paid by
As to the Legislature, I recommend the submission of a Constitutional
amendment, providing (1) that the Senate shall consist of twenty-four members and the
House of seventy-five members, providing also therein that by legislative enactment, the
membership in either or both bodies may be reduced, and (2) that a regular session shall
not exceed fifty days, and an extraordinary session not to exceed thirty days.
As local government under the exercise of the police power is made to respond to
the modern needs and conditions of the people, its administration becomes more
complex. Fixed and general rules for the administration of counties or municipalities
generally are not adequate for such conditions. Hence, the necessity for the framing of
special charters by local municipalities. In the evolvment of such government, the
electors in their local governmental capacity should be given great latitude. This should
be done to the extent of permitting elimination of nominations by political parties, so that
such government may be reduced to strictly a business proposition. Political parties exist
for the purpose of promoting principles and measures for good government. What is
essential for local government in one community might not be proper in another. So, a
political party as a party in a state may have no particular mission as to such local
matters. One of the cardinal principles of the Democratic party is local self-government.
If the electors of the municipality desire to provide for the selection of their officials
without party nominations so that efficiency may be promoted without party machine
impediments, such sub-divisions should have that power. Oft’ times local officers are
indifferent as to the success of the party in the State, where great political principles are
at issue, being absorbed in personal local matters. But if these local officers are
inefficient and do not meet the required duty, the party in the State has to bear the odium
of such deficiencies.
I accordingly recommend the submission of an amendment to Section 5, Article 3,
of the Constitution of this State, so as to permit municipalities in framing such charters to
dispense with political nominations and also to authorize counties to adopt special
charters for their county governments, and also therein to provide for the elimination of
party nominations.
While credit has brought riches to some it has impoverished many. Credit is
always exercised by the capable business man with great care and with such reasonable
sinking fund or equity under reasonable safeguards as to meet emergencies. The business
man who uses his credit and weathers all storms is indeed well ballasted. Credit when
exercised by municipalities or other political subdivisions should be exercised with the
same care. Safeguards and limitations against the making of such obligations is essential.
The future should never be mortgaged except when an adequate necessity exists and then
under reasonable limitations. One of the dangers of any community is in improving too
fast, and incurring too many obligations. We should advance and progress wisely,
carefully and surely, so that there should be no reaction. We feel now the burden of the
hand of the tax gatherer, but if we examine into details we find that a great part of these
taxes are gathered every year to provide a sinking fund for municipal indebtedness. Oft’
times this indebtedness has been created under the feverish spirit for development.
Section 26, of Article 10, of the Constitution permits municipalities to become
indebted generally to an amount in the aggregate not exceeding five per cent of the
valuation of the taxable property therein to be ascertained from the last assessment for
State and county purposes previous to the incurring of such indebtedness, provided that
three-fifths of the voters thereof must concur. Section 27, of the same Article, in addition
permits municipalities to become indebted without limit for the purpose of purchasing or
constructing public utilities or for repairing the same, to be owned exclusively by such
municipalities, provided that such be authorized by a majority of the properly qualified
taxpaying voters of such city. Section 27 extends too much credit to a municipality and
makes it too easy for it to become bankrupt. Additional safeguards should be adopted so
as to insure safe and sane development and protection to the taxpayers.
I accordingly recommend that an amendment be submitted imposing the same
restrictions in Section 27 both as to the amount and as to the number of voters to assent as
are contained in Section 26. By this means then a municipality could not become
indebted for all purposes to an amount in the aggregate not exceeding ten per cent of the
valuation of the taxable property therein to be ascertained from the last assessment for
State and county purposes previous to the incurring of such indebtedness. Such a
measure would not be retroactive.
It is essential that we should have the agencies by which the people may evidence
their judgment without political machine interference. This should extend not only to the
State, but also its sub-divisions. For that reason and the further fact that our party
platform so declared, I recommend that amendments to the Constitution be submitted as
1. No official whilst holding a State office shall be a candidate for any State,
county or municipal office, except to succeed himself, when eligible.
2. No Federal office-holder or member of Congress or United States Senate
shall become a candidate for any State, county or municipal office during
his term of office.
3. The Governor of the State shall not be eligible to become a candidate for a
party nomination as a candidate for a seat in the United States Senate
during his term of office and for one year after the expiration of such term.
4. A member of the Legislature may not become a candidate for a party
nomination as a candidate for a seat in Congress of the United States for
two years after the passage of a congressional apportionment Act by the
legislative body of which he was a member.
By this means, not only will State machines, but also, Federal machines be made
an impossibility in the State of Oklahoma.
I further recommend that constitutional amendments be submitted, so as to cause
the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Commissioner of Insurance, the State Examiner and
Inspector and such other state officers as you deem advisable except those made by the
terms of the Constitution ex-officio Commissioners of the Land Office, to be filled by
appointment. On account of the number of elective offices in this State, the length of the
ballot often results in confusing the voters. If we are to ever have an opportunity to try
out the wisdom of the short ballot, it is essential that these amendments be submitted so
that the people can determine as to whether they want to try out the short ballot plan. In
framing these amendments, it might be wise to submit them in such a manner as to make
these offices appointive until otherwise provided by law. Then if the people were to
become dissatisfied with the appointive plan, a change could be made without an
amendment to the Constitution.
Provision should be made for the fixing of fire insurance rates. This is a work of
great magnitude and should not be left to the discretion and judgment of any one person.
At the same time, it should be done in such a way as not to occasion the creation of any
more offices than reasonably practical.
I accordingly recommend the creation of a State Fire Insurance Commission, to
be composed of the Insurance Commissioner and the Fire Marshall, as ex-officio
members, the other members to be appointed, and to be secretary of said board. Said
board should have the power to suspend and fix rates and do everything necessary to the
effective regulation and control of the fire insurance business in the State. Provision
should be made for the review of the actions of this insurance commission by judicial
proceedings, thereby safeguarding the powers of said commission.
Gins should be specifically declared by statute to be public utilities; and before a
gin is installed, a license should be required from the Corporation Commission. The
regulation and control of the ginning business and the fixing of the price therefore [sic], I
recommend to be placed under the jurisdiction and control of the Corporation
Commission, just as public service corporations are.
A system of accounting and bookkeeping should be established in all state
institutions on a reasonable check to disclose irregularities and deficiencies and this
system should apply not only to state institutions, but, also, to county government. I
recommend legislation to bring this about.
The Legislature of 1913 passed an Act providing for the consolidation of a certain
offices. The validity of this Act is now being tested in the courts. I recommend the
passage of a declaratory act so as to obviate these objections and carry into effect at once
the expressed will of the people. Litigation, as a rule is at the expense of the taxpayers.
By the immediate passage of such a declaratory act, not only will this expense be
obviated, but office-holders will be made to realize that they cannot hold on to the public
teat by means of a technicality.
The permanent school fund should be converted into the State Treasury and not
held by the Secretary of the Board of School Land Commissioners. This cannot be done,
however, without such constitutional amendment as will provide for this permanent fund
to be converted into the Treasury, subject to the charge and management of the Board of
School Land Commissioners, but with an automatic provision for the same to be drawn
out and loaned on warrants of the School Land Commissioners through the State
Auditor’s office.
Specific provision should be made for the loaning and investment of the
permanent school fund. This fund should be apportioned by the State Board of School
Land Commissioners to each county pro rata on an agricultural per capita basis, and the
same loaned through the agency of a board in each county to be composed of the County
Clerk, County Judge and County Assessor. This contemplates a plan which will cause
local inspection, appraisement and examination, that board then to make its
recommendation and transmit the papers to the State School Land Board, who shall
finally approve or disapproved the application after inspection again made through the
State Board..
I recommend the consideration of this subject by you and the passage of such
laws as may be necessary to place same into effect.
Oil pipe lines should not be permitted to become producers. These lines are now
common carriers and should be confined in their business as such and divorced from the
management and control of producing companies, so that they may not have common
I accordingly recommend the passage of such necessary legislation, and all other
legislation essential for the consideration of the natural resources of the State.
A fair, just and adequate compensation act to be administered by the State should
be enacted. I earnestly recommend the enactment of such a law by this Legislature. Also
a just and fair law providing for shorter hours for women in the various employments, the
kind and character of employment being considered in the terms of the bill, is necessary.
I recommend the passage of such a statute.
Our primary election laws should be overhauled and a preferential system
adopted, by which the voters may be permitted to express their choice in such a way that
the party nominee shall be the choice of the majority of the voters.
It is also desirable that effective means be provided for the publicity pamplet [sic]
in reaching each voter when questions are submitted to the voters of the State by means
of the initiative and referendum.
Private individuals have formed an association in this State for the purpose of
erecting an Oklahoma building at the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco and
have endeavored to raise sufficient funds for that purpose. It appears that on account of
the depressed conditions, resulting from the general European war, that that has been
rendered impractical, and it will take the sum of $5,000.00 to complete the building.
Mrs. Fred Sutton has pledged her property for this amount. In addition to this pledge, she
has given her time to further this object. I recommend that the Legislature consider the
advisability of making an appropriation of $5,000.00 to help complete the building, to be
available only when sufficient funds are on hand to pay the entire cost of the building.
I respectfully call your attention to the conditions now prevailing in the State. On
account of the depression occasioned by the great European war certain parts of our State
in a financial way are greatly handicapped. To impose any more burdens upon them by
way of taxes than is absolutely necessary would be an abuse of power. So I urge that in
making appropriations we stay within the narrowest limit. Our institutions and
departments must cramp and stint themselves so as to meet these conditions and be in
harmony with the conditions of the people. I urge that no appropriation, at least in excess
of that heretofore made, be made without our earnest consultation relative thereto.
As the occasion arises I shall have other recommendations as to other departments
to make. I have specialized as to a great many boards, officers and employes [sic], which
I think should be abolished. I did this so as to assume a joint burden with you in
initiating this retrenchment. This is not a pleasant duty, but is comes our way because the
people have preferred us by the exercise of their suffrage. I hope to see every board and
every commission in the State abolished except that of the Board of Affairs, Board of
Education and the State Election Board. The creation of the State Fire Insurance
Commission is not in fact the creation of a new commission. The additional member will
act a secretary and it is intended that he is to be a working secretary.
I feel sure that the members of these two honorable bodies are zealous for
retrenchment and reform and for the constructive protection of the people. This is a
period in the history of this new commonwealth which calls for efficient service in every
public station. I join arms with you with a view of presenting a solid phalanx in carrying
out these measures and re-establishing government in the hearts and affections of the
About Digitizing the Governors’ State of the State Addresses
Section 9, Article 6 of the Constitution of Oklahoma provides as follows:
“At every session of the Legislature, and immediately upon its organization, the
Governor shall communicate by message, delivered to joint session of the two
houses, upon the condition of the State; and shall recommend such matters to the
Legislature as he shall judge expedient.”
From statehood in 1907 to present, the state of the state addresses of Oklahoma’s
Governors have been recorded in pamphlets, booklets, and Senate Journals. One could
not foresee the toll that time would take on the earliest of these documents. When these
items first arrived at the Oklahoma State Archives, the leather bindings had dried
considerably, cracking the spines significantly. Due to the acidity in the paper, many
pages have darkened with age. Some of the more brittle pamphlets crumble at the
slightest touch.
Thus when we decided to digitize these materials, we faced two challenges: the
safety of the original documents and ease of viewing/reading for patrons. Our primary
objective was that the unique and historic qualities of the documents should be reflected
in the website. However, older fonts would not digitize clearly when scanned and even
using a flatbed scanner could cause the bindings to worsen. An image of each page
would increase download time considerably and any hand-written remarks or crooked
pages could be lost. We decided to retype each document with every period, comma, and
misspelled word to maintain the integrity of the document while placing some unique
images of the documents online. Patrons can download the addresses quicker and view
them clearer as well as save, print, and zoom with the Adobe Acrobat Reader. We have
learned much from our efforts and we hope that our patrons are better served in their
research on the state of the state addresses of Oklahoma’s Governors.


Williams, McClure & Parmelee is dedicated to high quality legal representation of businesses and insurance companies in a variety of matters. We are experienced Texas civil litigation attorneys based in Fort Worth who know Texas courts and Texas law. For more information, please contact the law firm at 817-335-8800. The firm’s new office location is 5601 Bridge Street, Suite 300, Fort Worth, Texas 76112.

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