Developments in rural local government during 1944 included little that was wholly novel. Few state legislatures were in regular session, and those which met gave rather less attention than usual to local governmental problems. Nevertheless, several significant statutes and constitutional amendments became effective, and the convention which framed a new constitution for Missouri took numerous steps toward the modernization of local government in that state. In addition, particular local units in various states took action under preëxisting legal authority to improve their governmental forms or practices. As is usually the case, some proposals in the direction of betterment were defeated.
A type of governmental area which is becoming increasingly popular is that for providing rural fire protection. Kentucky, in 1944, authorized the establishment of fire protection districts upon petition by fifty-one per cent of the registered voters of the territory proposed to be included. Like some other laws of its kind, the Kentucky statute provides that the governing boards of such districts may either operate fire departments or contract for receiving fire protection from municipalities or other fire protection districts.
The number of soil conservation districts continued to grow rapidly. As of December 15, 1944, 1,203 such districts, including approximately 3,107,451 farms, had been established in the 45 states having soil conservation district laws. Only the three New England states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire were without legislation authorizing the organization of districts of this nature.