The 16th and 17th amendments and Political reforms Jeffrey Woulfe, Jay Scuitto, Alex Patrone, Aiden Iannetti
Robert La Follette was a leading Progressive from Wisconsin. He was called ¨Battling Bob¨ because of his fighting spirit (Davidson and Stoff 635). La Follette introduced many reforms as the governor of Wisconsin and they became know as the Wisconsin Idea, he lowered rail rates which increased rail traffic and these benefited both the owners and the customer (635). La Follette wanted voter involvement in government. Progressives wanted a primary, where voters choose their party's candidates for the election. The idea was adopted by Wisconsin in 1903 by by 1917 all but 4 states accepted primaries(635)
Many people who wanted reform supported graduated income tax (Davidson and Stoff 636). This idea taxes people at different rates based on their wealth. However, the supreme court ruled the idea unconstitutional (636). This led to the progressives campaigning for a sixteenth amendment, giving congress the power to pass an income tax. By 1913, the sixteenth amendment was in place (636).
17th amendment: Powerful interest groups bribed lawmakers to vote for certain candidates. To stop this, the progressives made the seventeenth amendment. It allowed the direct election of senators. It was made in 1912. (Davison and Stoff 636) State legislatures deadlocked when they elected senators. Senators elected with support from state legislatures were seen as puppets. (17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Direct Election of U.S. Senators)
“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.(Davidson and Stoff 636)
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.” (Davison and Stoff 241-242)