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The State Board of Education, that enforces the public free school system, which has heretofore consisted of the Governor, Attorney-General and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, has added to it three experienced educators, to be elected by the Senate once every four years out of a list of eligibles. One of these eligibles is to be furnished by the Board of each of the following institutions—viz. : The University, the Military Institute, the Polytechnic Institute, the State Female Normal School, the Deaf and Dumb Institute and William and Mary College. The duties of the Board are:
1. To divide the State into school divisions; to appoint each four years, and for causes remove, its Superintendent for each division, which is to consist of not less than one county or city.
2. To manage the school fund.
3. To make rules and regulations for management and conciuct of the schools, subject to the General Assembly.
4. To secure text books and appliances for the schools.
5. To appoint five directors of the State Library, who will manage it and choose the librarian and employees, but the law library is to be controlled by the Supreme Court.
“The General Assembly may establish agricultural, normal, manual training and technical schools, and such grade of schools as shall be for the public good.” Well said for the new Constitution—a big drop out of the cloud forecasting refreshing showers of material progress.
It may provide for compulsory education of children between eight and twelve years. "May” does not mean "must" here and may is good—for as population condenses, and it will, the helpless little ones, children of the Ghetto in many instances, need the strong rescuing arm of the State.
White and colored children shall not be taught in the same school. Amen!
The General Assembly is to apply the annual interest on the literary fund. One dollar of each capitation tax and an annual property tax of not less than five mills on the dollar goes to the public free schools of primary and grammar grades for the equal benefit of all the people apportioned by school population, that vary the number of children between seven and twenty years.
Cities and towns and school districts may levy a tax of five mills on the dollar for such schools as the public welfare may require.
Each Magisterial District to be a school district, unless otherwise provided, and the school trustees are to be chosen for it as the law may provide.
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND PRISONS.
There are to be hereafter the penitenţiary, branch prisons and prison farms under the government and control of five directors, to be appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The superintendents and the surgeons are to be appointed and removable by the directors for misbehavior, incapacity, neglect of official duty, or acts performed without due authority of law, and the respective superintendents shall appoint and remove officers and employees under them, subject to approval of the directors.
There is to be a board of three directors for every insane hospital in the State, appointed by the Governor, and a General Board of Directors for all the hospitals, consisting of the directors of the special board.
The General Board of Directors appoints, and may reinove for causes, the superintendents of the hospitals; and the Special Boards of Directors appoint the resident officials of their respective hospitals, subject to the Governor's approval, subject to the approval of the School Boards of the Directors, and the superintendent of each hospital appoints and removes all other employees.
A Commissioner of State Hospitals for the State, appointed by the Governor for four years, is to give bond, is to be official chairman of such Hospital Board, is to have established and maintained a uniform system of keepers of records and accounts, and to be responsible for all disbursements of moneys.
CORPORATIONS AND THE CORPORATION COMMISSION.
The most important of all administrative reforms in the new Constitution is contained in the Article of Corporations.
Years ago, when I was a member of the General Assembly, that body passed measures to authorize damages to the families of those who were killed by negligence, to secure the wages of railroad employees ahead of bondholders and stockholders, to subject railroad and other corporations in counties and cities to local as well as to State taxation, and a Railroad Commission, with one Commissioner, was established. There was opposition to all of these measures, which nevertheless prevailed. The first has given a remedy for a right that common law did not supply. The second has put into law the scripture, "The laborer is worthy of his hire.” The third has illustrated that “equality is equity.” No one desires to repeal any one of them—the best proof of their justice. And the fourth, the Railroad Commission idea, then in its swaddling clothes, has now reached the state of manhood, and the Convention recognized that it was ready for the toga virilis.
The State Corporation Commission is to consist of three members, each at a salary of $4,000 per annum. The Commissioners are to be appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. Their regular terms are to be six years. One of them is to have the prescribed qualification of a Supreme Court Judge. A clerk, bailiff and other clerks and officers to assist them, are provided for. Subordinate business of insurance, banking or other special branch of business may be put under the Commission by the General Assembly.
They are to be transported free by transportation companies when on official duties.
Their sessions are to be public.
After 1908 the General Assembly may provide for their election by the people.
Under general laws they are to have the duty or right:
1. To issue charters, amendments or extension for domestic corporations and license for foreign corporations.
2. To supervise, regulate and control all transportation and transmission companies in their public duties and charges therefor.
3. To prescribe and enforce rules, charges and classification of traffic.
4. To require of such companies all such public service, facilities and conveniences as may be reasonable and just.
5. To prevent unjust or unreasonable discriminations.
6. To inspect books, newspapers of transportation and transmission companies, revise reports and statements on oath, and seek the security and accommodation of the public.
7. To give hearings upon notice to companies affected by rates or other requirements a reasonable opportunity to introduce evidence, and to publish such requirement or rule in the "Richmond press” before making, with notice of time and place for hearing objections.
They are to have the powers of a court of record to administer oaths, compel attendance of witnesses and production of papers, to enforce their orders, and punish for contempt.
Appeals to the Supreme Court are allowed, and those affecting rates, charges and classification have precedence on docket
Larger charges for the long than the short haul and free passes to Assemblymen and State officers are forbidden. Licenses to do business in the State are required of foreign corporations. The doctrine of fellow-servant, which prohibits the employee of a railroad company from recovering damages sustained by reason of a co-employee's negligence, is abolished. Waivers of right to recover in such cases are made null and void. Laws are to be enacted to prevent such trusts, combinations and monopolies as are inimical to the public welfare.
This is but å skeleton outline of an article covering twelve pages of fine print in the new Constitution. It is specially noteworthy that the $5 license tax on corporations will pay for this new establishment.
This article is in. line with the legislative enactments of many State Legislatures, and with the provisions of several new Constitutions, and it is responsive to the demands of the new commercial and industrial age.
The subject is vast and complicated, the pathway to wise legislation upon it is but imperfectly blazed, and one would naturally incline to the opinion that any steps taken to deal with it in detail belong more appropriately to a Legislature than a Convention. But it may well be argued, on the other hand, that Legislatures are beset with so many cares, their time is so limited by most Constitutions, that a few members may often delay procedure, and the subject is of such vital importance to the shippers of the agricultural, mining, manufacturing and commercial classes, who do not stand in with the great corporations of transportation, that the Convention was justified in making this article a part of the fundamental law.
The fairest theories that ever were produced by the human mind often fail when they are operated by human agencies and come in contact with unanticipated factors that manifest themselves only by their disturbing influences. It is, therefore, a great experiment to put such powers in the hands of three men as are here reposed in the three Corporation Commissioners, and a great experiment to adopt as a constitutional rule some theories that have never been fully vindicated by practical experience. With all these discounts to the measure, it must at the same time be acknowledged that the danger from these sources is not so great as the danger of injustice to the citizen from unchecked discriminations against him, and it is hoped and believed that with fair and honest men as administrators, open public proceedings and records, with appeals and prompt hearings assured in our highest courts, and, above all, with the argus-eyed public opinion forever watchful and attentive to what so greatly concerns the public weal, it is not at all likely that any great injustice will be possible in any direction. One thing is certain, that a high-spirited and justly disposed people like our own mean no wrong to any man, whether his interests