« PreviousContinue »
V. SOLDIERS' BONUSES AND PREFERENCES.
This chapter attempts to review the types of state legislation which supplements federal action with respect to payment or aid to soldiers.
In Illinois limited provisions were enacted in 1919, giving certain preferences to returned soldiers. Among these provisions is that for free scholarships at the State University and the state normal schools, the scholarships covering tuition and matriculation charges. (p. 922.) Certain preferences are also given returned soldiers under civil service laws, particularly as to appointments under the state classified service (p. 292); under park boards (p. 290); and under civil service in cities (p. 287). Under the state teachers' pension and retirement fund, an amendment (p. 706) provides that time spent with military and naval forces is to be computed as part of the 25-year period of teaching service, providing the returned soldier makes contributions to the pension fund covering the period of his military service. Another act (p. 533) authorizes the director of labor to secure information as to the rehabilitation of discharged soldiers and sailors in industry.
Some of the states have provided small cash payments and bonuses in the way of scholarships in educational institutions. Some merely give exemptions from tuition and matriculation fees. A law enacted by the legislature of Minnesota (Laws, 1919, chap. 338) provides tuition for soldiers in the University of Minnesota, in the state normal schools, in any college of the state which participated in the students' army training corps' work, and in other colleges and schools in the state. The total allowance for tuition to any person is not to exceed $200. In New York provision is made (Laws 1919, 06) for 450 state scholarships for world war veterans. These scholarships include $100 a year for tuition and $100 additional for maintenance. Not more than three persons may be appointed for the same period from any assembly district. Oregon grants a bonus of $25 a month or $200 a year for four years for educational purposes to any honorably discharged soldier (Laws, 1919, chap, 428). The state of Washington exempts returned soldiers from paying fees at the state university. (Laws, 1919, chap. 63.) In Massachusetts each officer, enlisted man, or other person having received an honorable discharge from military service may obtain a direct bonus of $100 upon making application to the proper authorities (Laws, 1919, chap. 283). In its regular session for 1919, North Dakota made an allowance of $25 a month for each month in service, to be applied for expenses of education or for the purchase of a home or farm. A bill introduced in the special session provides for a slight increase in the amount of compensation to be
granted, and makes the necessary increase for this purpose in the tax levy.
Important legislation has been enacted for soldiers' bonuses in Minnesota and Wisconsin. A Minnesota act approved September 22, 1919, provides that each soldier or sailor shall receive from the state the sum of fifteen ($15) dollars for each and every month and fraction thereof of service during the war. No soldier, however, is to receive less than fifty dollars. Sums received for tuition under a law referred to in the preceding paragraph are to be deducted, certificates of indebtedness not exceeding $20,000,000 are authorized to carry out the provisions of the act.
Wisconsin has gone furthest in working out a co-ordination between education and bonus. A general soldiers' bonus law provides ten ($10) dollars a month for each month a soldier was in service. An educational bonus law provides that a soldier shall “be entitled to receive thirty dollars per month while in regular attendance as a student at any such institution, but not to exceed a total of one thousand and eighty dollars in lieu of the soldier bonus provided for in chapter 667 of the Laws of 1919, except as hereinafter provided.“ The educational bonus law provides methods for its administration; defines the institution that may be attended; and imposes an additional surtax on incomes, and a state tax not to exceed one mill on each dollar for a period of five years, to defray expenses under the act. Persons receiving the *10 bonus may also receive free correspondence instruction.
Preference in public employment. Quite a number of the states have enacted legislation giving returned soldiers preference in appointments under civil service regulations, and have also provided for their preference in public employment. Among the states that have enacted provisions of this kind during the legislative session of 1919 are: California (p. 1350); Illinois (PP. 287, 290 and 292); Indiana (pp. 423 and 872); Kansas (p. 378); Michigan (p. 402); Oregon (pp. 223, 218, 251 and 809); South Dakota (p. 373): Washington (chap. 11 and 26); and New York (chap. 225). New York has referred a constitutional amendment to the next legislature providing for preference for soldiers in the civil service (p. 1793).
The federal government also gives preference in civil service appointments to honorably discharged soldiers, sailors and marines, and their widows. Preference in appointments to civil service positions is further extended to wives of injured soldiers, sailors or marines who themselves are not qualified, but whose wives are qualified to hold such positions.
For a review of the Wisconsin legislation, see Review of Reviews, December, 1919, and Wisconsin's Educational Horizon, Vol. 2, No. 1 (September, 1919).
Admission to professions. In the legislative sessions for 1919, , certain states made provision to facilitate the admission of returned soldiers to the learned professions, particularly in those cases in which their course of study was interrupted by the war. Thus Michigan reduces the regular period for prior study for admission to the bar examination from three years to two years in a law school and makes a corresponding reduction for study with a preceptor. Maine likewise provides for admission to examination at the end of two years' study and, in recognition of the time required for recuperation on the part of returned soldiers, lowers the passing grade to 60 per cent. (p. 15.) New York makes special provision for conferring degrees on dental students who were in the military service (chap. 422).
. . .
Exemptions from certain taxes and fees. Provision is made in a number of states for certain small tax exemptions and also for exemption from the payment of certain fees. Among the states which enacted such provisions in 1919 are: California (pp. 139, 160, 269 and 305); Indiana (pp. 199, 697 and 823); Maine (chap. 105 and 218); Michigan (pp. 432 and 585); and New Mexico (p. 345). Provisions exempting soldiers from the necessity of securing hucksters' and peddlers' licenses are found in New York (chap. 42), Delaware (p. 49) and Minnesota (p. 484).
Land settlement plans for soldiers. The most substantial provisions so far enacted by the different states are the land settlement acts to provide homes for returned soldiers.
The national soldiers' settlement bill has been pending in congress for many months. This bill embodies the general plan of the federal government to cooperate with the several states in providing employment and rural homes for returned soldiers. Under this reclamation and settlement plan of the federal government the country is to be divided into three general divisions corresponding to three types of land to be settled. The northern division comprises mainly the cutover timber land lying principally in Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The southern division consists mostly of swamp lands south of the Ohio boundary. The western division includes the arid lands west of the Dakotas and Nebraska. Over two hundred million acres of unused swamp, cut-over, and arid lands are available under reclamation and irrigation plans embodied in the federal land settlement bill. The normal size of the farms will be 80 acres. Half of the land will be completely or partially prepared by the government, which will also erect houses and barns and supply equipment necessary for cultivating the land. The original payment on the land will be 5 per cent of the cost and the remaining payments will be extended over a period of forty years.
State legislation for cooperation with the federal government in this plan for the settlement of soldiers was enacted in a majority of the states in 1919, but since these state laws provide for cooperation with the federal government in the manner provided in the national soldiers' settlement bill this state legislation must remain largely ineffective until the federal bill is enacted by congress.
Legislation typical of the general movement to cooperate with the federal government in its land settlement plan may be found in: Arizona (Laws 1919, chap. 141); California (Laws 1919, pp. 838 and 1182); Colorado (Laws 1919, chap. 151); Maine (Laws 1919, chap. 189); Missouri (Laws 1919, p. 70+); New Mexico (Laws 1919, chap. 127; Oregon (Laws 1919, chap. 303) ; South Dakota (Laws 1919, p. 374); Tennessee (Laws 1919, chap. 140); Utah (Laws 1919, chap. 74 and 106); Washington (Laws 1919, chap. 188); and Wyoming (Laws 1919, p. 242).
Most of this legislation was originally enacted, or else amended in 1919, with the direct object of coordinating federal and states agencies for soldier settlement. Thus the Oregon law (1919), chap. 303) declares :
"Section 2. The object of this .act is to provide useful employment and the opportunity to acquire farm homes with profitable livelihood on the land for soldiers, sailors and marines honorably discharged from the service of the United States and other qualified settlers and to provide for cooperation of the state with the agencies of the United States engaged in work of a similar character."
“Section 7. For the purpose of this act the commission may also, under contract with the United States, or any department thereoi, undertake any work of farm improvement, subdivision of land, supervision of the settlement of land and the selection of settlers, the agricultural training of prospective settlers, the supervision of short term loans, the rejection of applications for allotments, the collection of moneys, the operation and maintenance of projects undertaken; and may perform any other acts as may be necessary to effect full cooperation with federal agencies for land settlement purposes."
A typical act providing for cooperation with the United States in the settlement of returned soldiers was passed in Maine in 1919, (chap. 189). In the language of the law:
“The object of this act, is, in recognition of military service, to provide employment and rural homes for soldiers, sailors, marines, and others who have served with the armed forces of the United States in the European war or other wars of the United States, including former American citizens who served in allied armies against the Central Powers and have been repatriated, and who have been honorably discharged, hereafter referred to generally as 'soldiers'; and to accomplish such purpose by cooperation with the agencies of the United States engaged in work of a similar character."
In defining the powers and duties of the soldier settlement board of the state the act continues :
“Sec. 4. Available lands; cooperation with United States authorities; powers of board. The board shall satisfy itself of the prac
ticability of each undertaking proposed, utilizing all related and serviceable state agencies, all which are hereby authorized and directed to cooperate with and assist said board in every way, and thereupon shall cooperate with the authorities of the United States in the preparation of plans for settlement of soldiers. The board is authorized to utilize public lands of the state and to acquire agricultural lands which may be deemed suitable for settlement, together with necessary water rights, rights of way, and other appurtenances, for settlement for purposes of husbandry and business incidental thereto. When deemed advisable in the discretion of the board and the cooperating agencies of the United States, any of said lands may be leased until it may be deemed advisable to sell or use the same. The board may also set aside and dedicate to public use appropriate tracts for roads, school houses, churches or other public purposes. Any lands belonging to the state and deemed by the board suitable for the purposes of this act shall be available for disposition by the board and the state land agent and forest commissioner shall cooperate with the board in every way necessary to carry out the purposes of this act in regard to such lands. The board is hereby authorized to perform all acts necessary to cooperate with the agencies of the United States engaged in work of similar character."
Further provision is made in the act for opening surplus lands to other settlers and for grouping lands in "Soldiers' Districts". The land settlement board is given plenary powers in carrying the act into effect, and it is required to report bi-annually to the legislature and to make recommendations for legislation. It is further required to furnish a copy of its report to the secretary of the interior.
A number of the state farm loan acts were extended in 1919 so as to give soldiers preference in the settlement of available lands. Among these may be mentioned: Arizona (Laws 1919, chap. 141); Oregon (Laws 1919, chap. 303); and South Dakota (Laws 1919, p. 37+).
A proposed amendment to the constitution of Kansas (Art. 15, Sec. 11) to be voted upon in 1920 contains a similar preference. The amendment reads in part: “To encourage the purchase, improvement and ownership of agricultural lands and the occupancy and cultivation thereof, provision may be made by law for the creation and maintenance of a fund, in such manner and amount as the legislature may determine, to be used in the purchase, improvement and sale of lands for agricultural purposes."
“The legislature may provide reasonable preferences for those persons who served in the army and navy of the United States in the World War and holding an honorable discharge therefrom."
Vocational rehabilitation. The Federal Government has made general provision for the vocational rehabilitation of soldiers, sailors and marines. The several congressional acts provide for training, allowances and compensation to persons disabled in military service in the World War. The general supervision of the work is placed under