110-Year-Old Gubernatorial Advice on Legislating

“The evil of an individual, as a general rule, affects him alone, for his power of injuring the few around him can be summarily restrained.

“But the wrong of a bad law affects the whole community and its poison may spread before discovery and the injury may be irreparable, though afterward annulled by a decision of a court or repealed by an act of a future Legislature.

“Hence, it becomes your duty not to rely upon the Executive (Branch), with his limited assistance, for a remedy by way of veto.

“You should carefully scrutinize each measure introduced both in committee and in the house. Your familiarity with the history of bills and your opportunity of hearing discussions thereon give you an advantage, for this purpose, over the executive.

“Nor should you rely exclusively upon the mere reports of committees. It often happens that the hard-worked members of committees have little or no opportunity for a thorough examination of an obnoxious measure, and only approve it through courtesy. And the house, in turn, relies upon the mere formal approval of such committee.”

                                          — First Biennial Message of Governor Henry T. Gage, January 7, 1901 

Filed under: California History

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