As we move into mid-March, we find that in 1917 the Kansas Legislature did something we would find incredible today—on March 14th, with their business completed, the session adjourned. It’s useful to look at what they accomplished to give us an idea of what was important to Kansans in the days before war was declared.
On March 10th, Capt. Phil Billard of Topeka, was given a $3,000 appropriation by the Legislature to establish an aviation school at Topeka. See the earlier post on Billard: https://www.kansasww1.org/aviators-philip-billard/
When the Legislature adjourned four days later, this is what they had accomplished:
- Required approval of the Public Utilities Commission to build bridges or dams across navigable streams or rivers.
- Required approval of the State Board of Health for building vaults or mausoleums.
- Provided for the adoption and regulation of the city manager form of government by cities wanting it.
- Regulation of streetcar traffic.
- Provided for condemnation and appropriation of land by oil and pipeline companies.
- Authorized counties to levy taxes to pay for extermination of grasshoppers.
- Prohibited the sale, giving away or advertisement of cigarettes or cigarette papers.
- Provided for a Kansas Water Commission to investigate and control flood prevention, drainage, water power, and irrigation.
- Set the minority age of both men and women at 21.
- Created the office of State Fire Marshal.
- Provided for the protection of game birds.
- Authorized the State Board of Health to make regulations for control of diseases.
- Made it unlawful for any person to have intoxicating liquor in his possession and prohibited the transportation of liquor, except for medicinal uses.
- Provided for compensation for injures workmen.
- Provided for an eight-hour day in lead and zinc mines.
- Created a State Highway Commission and prescribed its duties.
- Provided for distribution of federal funds for vocation education.
- Established a State board of Administration to manage state institutions.
- Established a State Industrial Farm for women.
When the Legislature was finished, Kansas and the nation was 23 days away from war.
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