Constitutional Amendments.Kansas was admitted into the Union under the Wyandotte constitution, the state government being inaugurated on Feb. 9, 1861. The following month the legislature met in special session, and among the acts of that body was the submission of an amendment to section 7, article 13, giving banks the right to issue notes of a denomination as low as one dollar, instead of five dollars as originally provided. The amendment was ratified by the people at the election in November by a vote of 3,733 to 3,343. Since that time several amendments have been made to the state's organic law.
Two amendments were passed by the legislature of 1864 and submitted to the people in the fall of that year. The first amended section 3 of article 5 to read as follows: "For the purpose of voting, no person shall be deemed to have gained or lost a reason of his presence or absence while employed in the service of the United States, nor while engaged in the navigation of the waters of this state, or of the United States, or of the high seas, nor while a student of any seminary of learning, nor while kept at any almshouse or other asylum at public expense, nor while confined in any public prison; and the legislature may make provision for taking the votes of electors who may be absent from their townships or wards, in the volunteer military service of the United States, or the militia service of this state; but nothing herein contained shall be deemed to allow any soldier, seaman or marine in the regular army or navy of the United States the right to vote."
The second amendment was to change section 12, article 2, to read: "Bills may originate in either house, but may be amended or rejected by the other."
The first of these amendments was ratified by a vote of 10,729 to 329, and the second by a vote of 8,708 to 329. No further amendments were found necessary until 1867, when, for the purpose of disfranchising certain classes of persons, section 2, article 5, was amended to read as follows: "No person under guardianship, non compos mentis, or insane; no person convicted of felony, unless restored to civil rights; no person who has been dishonorably discharged from the service of the United States, unless reinstated; no person guilty of defrauding the government of the United States, or of any of the states thereof; no person guilty of giving or receiving a bribe, or offering to give or receive a bribe; and no person who has ever voluntarily borne arms against the government of the United States, or in any manner voluntarily aided or abetted in the attempted overthrow of said government, except all persons who have been honorably discharged from the military service of the United States since the 1st day of April, A. D. 1861, provided that they have served one year or more therein, shall be qualified to vote and hold office in this state, until such disability shall be removed by a law passed by a vote of two-thirds of all the members of both branches of the legislature."
This amendment was ratified by the people at the election in Nov., 1867, by a vote of 16,860 to 12,165, and for years thereafter scarcely a session of the legislature was held in which there was not a bill, or at least a petition, asking for the removal of these political disabilities from some of the persons who had fallen under the ban. (See the administrations of the governors subsequent to 1868.)
In 1868 section 4 of article 15 was amended to read: "All public printing shall be done by a state printer, who shall be elected by the legislature in joint session, and shall hold his office for two years, and until his successor shall be elected and qualified. The joint session of the legislature for the election of a state printer shall be on the third Tuesday of January, A. D. 1869, and every two years thereafter. All public printing shall be done at the capital, and the prices for the same shall be regulated by law."
The amended section was ratified by the people at the election on Nov. 3, 1868, by a vote of 13,471 to 5,415, and in 1904 the section was further amended, by a vote of 169,620 to 52,363, to read as follows: "All public printing shall be done by a state printer, who shall be elected by the people at the election held for state officers in Nov., 1906, and every two years thereafter, at the election held for state officers, and shall hold his office for two years and until his successor shall be elected and qualified."
The legislature of 1873 proposed a new section 2, article 2, relating to the number of members in each branch of the legislature, and the new section was ratified by the people on Nov. 4, 1873, by a vote of 32,340 to 29,189. The amended section, which is still in force, is as follows: "The number of representatives and senators shall be regulated by law, but shall never exceed 125 representatives and 40 senators. From and after the adoption of this amendment, the house of representatives shall admit one member for each county in which at least 250 legal votes were cast at the next preceding general election; and each organized county in which less than 200 legal votes were cast at the next preceding general election shall be attached to and constitute a part of the representative district of the county lying next adjacent on the east."
Three amendmentsall that could be submitted at one timewere presented to the electors of the state in 1875. The first provided for biennial sessions of the legislature by changing the language of section 23, article 2, to read as follows: "All sessions of the legislature shall be held at the state capital, and, beginning with the year 1877, all regular sessions shall be held once in two years, Commencing on the second Tuesday of January of each alternate year thereafter."
This amendment was ratified by the people by a vote of 43,320 to 15,478 at the election on Nov. 2, 1875, and the other two amendments ratified at the same time were made necessary by the change from annual to biennial sessions. One changed section 3, article 11, to read: "The legislature shall provide, at each regular session, for raising sufficient revenue to defray the current expenses of the state for two years;" and the other added section 29 to article 2, as follows: "At the general election in 1876, and thereafter, members of the house of representatives shall be elected for two years, and members of the senate shall be elected for four years." The vote on these amendments was not materially different from that on the amendment authorizing biennial sessions.
The legislature of 1876 submitted two amendments to the people, to be voted on at the general election in November of that year. The first altered the language of section 24, article 2, to provide that "No money shall be drawn from the treasury, except in pursuance of a specific appropriation made by law, and no appropriation shall be for a longer term than two years."
At the election this amendment was ratified by a vote of 95,430 to 1,768. The second amendment of 1876 related to the election of county officers as provided for in section 2 of article 9, but in 1902 the same section was amended to read as follows: "General elections and township elections shall be held biennially, on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday in November in the years bearing even numbers. All county and township officers shall hold their offices for a term of two years and until their successors are qualified; provided, one county commissioner shall be elected from each of three districts numbered 1, 2 and 3, by the voters of the district, and the legislature shall fix the time of election and the term of office of such commissioners; such election to be at a general election, and no term of offices to exceed six years. All officers whose successors would, under the law as it existed at the time of their election, be elected in an odd-numbered year shall hold office for an additional year and until their successors are qualified. No person shall hold the office of sheriff or county treasurer for more than two consecutive terms."
In 1880, by a vote of 92,302 to 84,304, the following section was added to article 15: "Section 10. The manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors shall be forever prohibited in this state, except for medical, scientific and mechanical purposes." (See Prohibition.)
A proposition for a new constitutional convention was voted down in 1880146,279 to 22,870 and no further amendments to the organic law were made until 1888. In that year section 17 of the Bill of Rights was changed to read: "No distinction shall ever be made between citizens of the State of Kansas and the citizens of other states and territories of the United States in reference to the purchase, enjoyment or descent of property. The rights of aliens in reference to the purchase, enjoyment or descent of property may be regulated by law." The vote of the people on this amendment stood 220,419 to 16,611, and at the same election the proposition to strike out the word "white" in section 1, article 8, relating to the militia, was carried by a vote of 226,474 to 22,251.
In 1891 the legislature again submitted to the people the question of holding a constitutional convention, and at the general election in 1892 it was defeated by a majority of 466 in a total vote of 237,448.
At the general election of 1900, the following amended section 2 of article 3 was ratified by a vote of 123,721 to 35,474, a similar amendment having been previously twice rejected at the polls: "The supreme court shall consist of seven justices, who shall be chosen by the electors of the state. They may sit separately in two divisions, with full power in each division to determine the cases assigned to be heard by such division. Three justices shall constitute a quorum in each division and the concurrence of three shall be necessary to a decision. Such cases only as may be ordered to be heard by the whole court shall be considered by all the justices, and the concurrence of four justices shall be necessary to a decision in cases so heard. The justice who is senior in continuous term of service shall be chief justice, and in case two or more have continuously served during the same period the senior in years of these shall be chief justice, and the presiding justice of each division shall be selected from the judges assigned to that division in like manner. The term of office of the justices shall be six years, except as hereinafter provided. The justices in office at the time this amendment takes effect shall hold their offices for the terms for which they were severally elected and until their successors are elected and qualified. As soon as practicable after the second Monday in January, 1901, the governor shall appoint four justices, to hold their offices until the second Monday in January, 1903. At the general election in 1902 there shall be elected five justices, one of whom shall hold his office for two years, one for four years and three for six years. At the general election in 1904, and every six years thereafter, two justices shall be elected. At the general election in 1904, and every six years thereafter, two justices shall be elected. At the general election in 1908, and very[sic] six years thereafter, three justices shall be elected."
At the election on Nov. 8, 1904, by a vote of 162,057 to 60,148, the people approved an amendment adding the following provision to section 14 of article 2: "If any bill presented to the governor contains several items of appropriation of money, he may object to one or more of such items, while approving the other portion of the bill; in such case he shall append to the bill, at the time of signing it, a statement of the item or items to which he objects, and the reasons therefor, and shall transmit such statement, or a copy thereof, to the house of representatives, and any appropriations so objected to shall not take effect unless reconsidered and approved by two-thirds of the members elected to each house, and if so reconsidered and approved, shall take effect and become a part of the bill, in which case the presiding officers of each house shall certify on such bill such fact of reconsideration and approval."
Three amendments were proposed by the legislature of 1905, and all were ratified by the voters at the general election of 1906. The first added the following provision to section 17 of article 2: "And whether or not a law is repugnant to this provision of the constitution shall be construed and determined by the courts of the state." The vote on the ratification of this provision was 110,266 in favor of it and 67,409 against it.
The second amendment of 1906 related to probate courts, adding to section 8, article 3, the following provision: "The legislature may provide for the appointment or selection of a probate judge pro tem when the probate judge is unavoidably absent or otherwise unable or disqualified to sit in any case." This amendment was ratified by a vote of 107,974 to 70,730.
The third amendment decreased the liabilities of stockholders in corporations by changing section 2 of article 12 to read as follows: "Dues from corporations shall be secured by the individual liability of the stockholders to the amount of stock owned by each stockholder, and such other means as shall be provided by law; but such individual liability shall not apply to railroad corporations, nor to corporations for religious or charitable purposes." This amendment was ratified by a vote of 110,021 to 63,485.Pages 405-409 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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