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Illinois Manufacturers' Association.
Indiana State Board of Commerce.
Kansas Millers' Association.
Michigan State Millers' Association.
Minnesota Retail Grocers and General Merchants' Association.
Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma Lumber Association.
New England Granite Manufacturers' Association.
New England Shoe and Leather Association.
Ohio Grain Dealers' Association.
Ohio State Association-Patrons of Industry.
Texas Cattle Raisers' Association.
Texas Millers' Association.
Utah Live Stock Association.
Wisconsin Cheese Makers' Association.
Wisconsin Retail Hardware Dealers' Association.
Wisconsin Retail Lumber Dealers' Association.
Nebraska Retail Grocers and General Merchants' Association.
Claremont Citrus Union.
Colton, San Bernardino County Fruit Exchange.
Los Angeles, Southern California Fruit Exchange.
Pomona Fruit Growers' Exchange.
Pomona, San Antonio Fruit Exchange.
Porterville Board of Trade.
Porterville, Tulare County Citrus Fruit Exchange.
San Diego Chamber of Commerce.
Santa Barbara Lemon Growers' Exchange.
Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County Chamber of Commerce.
Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. (Will send representative.)
Toledo Produce Exchange. (Will participate in expense and send representative to Washington.)
Newark Board of Trade.
Portland Chamber of Commerce.
Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce.
Spokane Chamber of Commerce.
Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce.
Milwaukee Merchants and Manufacturers' Association.
Milwaukee Association of Master Steam and Hot Water Heating Engineers.
Mr. BACON. I would like to state the names of individual States which are represented in this expression: California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Senator DOLLIVER. May I trouble you to state what Iowa organization is represented?
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Mr. BACON. The Davenport Business Men's Association is the only one from Iowa.
Senator KEAN. What ones from Massachusetts?
Mr. BACON. The Brockton Board of Trade, the Fitchburg Merchants' Association, and the Worcester Board of Trade.
Senator FORAKER. Be kind enough now to look at Ohio.
Mr. BACON. The Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and the Toledo Produce Exchange.
Those are the local organizations. There are State organizations, some of which I will mention. Ohio Grain Dealers' Association, Ohio State Association Patrons of Industry. Those are the only two State organizations of Ohio, I believe, that have reported. Senator KEAN. What from New York?
Mr. BACON. Brooklyn, United Retail Grocers' Association; Buffalo Lumber Exchange, Buffalo Merchants' Exchange; Middletown Business Mens' Association; New York Lumber Trade Association; New York Manufacturers' Association; New York Merchants' Association; New York Produce Exchange, and New York Stationers' Board of Trade.
I will also state that the legislatures of several States have passed joint resolutions recommending the passage of this bill or of the former Cullom bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean the Nelson bill that we have here before us?
Mr. BACON. I speak of the Nelson bill; yes. But several State legislatures a year ago passed joint resolutions recommending the passage of the Cullom bill.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the bill we had under consideration during the last Congress?
Mr. BACON. Yes, sir.
Senator FORAKER. Please tell us the purposes of the bill, how it is designed to accomplish those purposes; and then point out to us the difference between the Nelson bill and the Elkins bill. I assume you are familiar with them. That is what we want to hear rather than the number of people who have indorsed it.
Mr. BACON. Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas, Louisiana, and Iowa are the States that have recommended the passage of the bill.
The CHAIRMAN. The legislatures of those States have asked for the passage of the Cullom bill; is that what you mean?
Mr. BACON. Part of them asked for the passage of the Cullom bill and part of them the Nelson bill.
Senator DOLLIVER. I think the legislature of Iowa has taken no action in reference to this bill-at least, no action of that legislature has been sent here.
Mr. BACON. I was informed by Mr. Trewin, a member of the Iowa senate, that it passed the senate on a certain date, and two days afterwards he advised me that it had passed the house.
Senator DOLLIVER. I doubt whether your information is correct. The CHAIRMAN. Now please address yourself to the merits of these bills, as suggested by Governor Foraker.
Mr. BACON. In the first place, the Nelson bill (S. 3575) provides that it shall be the duty of the Commission, when it finds, upon investigation, after hearing all parties interested-
The CHAIRMAN. That is the Interstate Commerce Commission. Mr. BACON. Yes. That it shall be the duty of the Interstate Commerce Commission, upon investigation, upon formal complaint filed, if it shall find that the rate in question is unreasonable or unjust, to specify what in their judgment is a just and reasonable rate in that particular case, and that rate shall be put into effect.
That provision is also included in the Elkins bill (S. 3521).
The second provision of the Nelson bill is that the orders of the Commission shall be operative at a time specified in the order of the Commission, which shall not be less than twenty days after the order is issued, unless appeal is taken or unless application is made for a review of the order before a circuit court, in which case it shall be suspended for thirty days; and that the circuit court, if it finds upon examination that the order proceeds upon an error of law or is unreasonable under the facts, it may suspend the order of the Commission for a specified time, or during the proceedings under the adjudication of the order. That, I believe, differs somewhat from the Elkins bill. But that is considered a point of equal importance with that of giving the Commission the authority to prescribe the rate to be substituted for the one found to be wrong, for the reason that the cases that have been taken before the courts contesting the orders of the Commission have been in course of adjudication for a long period of time, and the order consequently suspended during that period.
The commission states in one of its recent reports that the average length of time that these cases have been before the courts has been four years. There are several that have been before the courts from five to seven years. There were two that were decided by the Commission which were eight years before the court. There is one which has not yet been decided although it has been nine years before the court. The result of that, as you can readily see, is to make the rulings of the Commission practically inoperative, of no effect, affording no relief whatever to the complainants. After a competent body, skilled in questions of railroad traffic, has found a rate to be unreasonable or unjust, it is continued in force during all this period of adjudication, and the public is subjected to a continuance of that wrong and that injustice, in the absence of relief of this kind making the order operative. It should continue in operation until the courts have declared it wrong. The Commission is utterly unable to afford any relief to the business community as it is now.
The practice on the part of the railway companies in these cases has been to protract the proceedings to the utmost possible extent, it being readily seen that it is for their interest to do so. If the Commission has ordered a reduction of 20 per cent, the longer the railway company can prevent the putting into operation of that order, the more it is to its advantage, of course; and it has made use of that to a very great extent, so that it has come to be regarded as almost useless on the part of the business men to bring any case before the Commission. In some cases it takes two or three years to get them through the Commission, to hear all the parties concerned, and to bring the matter to a conclusion. Any business man or commercial organization undertaking the conduct of a case before the Commission becomes almost tired out before it reaches a conclusion in the Commission itself; and then the case is subject to a further delay of three to six years while the validity of the order of the Commission is being contested in the
courts. This practically renders the interstate-commerce act of no value whatever to the business community.
Senator FORAKER. Does the bill which you favor undertake in any way to have that difficulty remedied in the commission? Mr. BACON. As to the delays before the commission? Senator FORAKER. Before the commission itself, yes.
Mr. BACON. There is no special provision made in that respect. Senator FORAKER. The remedy is aimed simply at the courts, so far as any provision of the bill is concerned?
Mr. BACON. The desire is to avoid any further delay. Nevertheless, the business organizations have urged upon the Interstate Commerce Commission the expediting of cases before the commission, and will undoubtedly continue to do so.
Another provision of the Nelson bill is that the testimony taken before the Commission shall be certified to the court when the order of the Commission is appealed from; and if additional testimony is offered before the court by either party, the court is to refer the case back to the Commisson to take that additional testimony, and to certify the facts to the court as thereafter found. The object of that is to necessitate the carriers presenting all their testimony before the Commission. It has been the practice to present only a part of it, and then when the case is appealed to the courts to introduce additional testimony, and the consequence has been that the decision of the court has been at times on an entirely different case from that before the Commission.
Furthermore, that causes delay. Ordinarily it takes a case a year, or a year and a half, to go through the commission, and once in awhile two to three years. But the carriers, by means of this method of introducing additional testimony before the court, simply subjects the shipper or the commercial organization, complainant in the case, to unnecessary delay. That seems to be one of the means that is taken advantage of for the purpose of promoting delay, and preventing any order of the commission going into effect within a reasonable time.
One of the important differences between the two bills is that under the Elkins bill the order of the Commission is made obligatory for only a period of one year, while under the Nelson bill it is made obligatory for two years. Under the present law there is no limitation to the time of this obligation. The committee that prepared the Nelson bill deemed it best for the protection of the railway interests to provide that the order of the Commission should be in effect only two years. An objection had been made by the railway interests to the effect that the Commission having the power to prescribe the rate to be observed in the future, when it found the existing rate to be wrong, would before many years have made all the rates for the country. To obviate that objection on the part of the carriers, the committee in the preparation of the Nelson bill made this provision: That the order of the Commission should be obligatory only for a period of two years.
Senator FORAKER. That is the order fixing the rate, where complaint has been made and heard?
Mr. BACON. Yes.
Senator DOLLIVER. Did I understand you to say that in case the rate suggested by the Commission is obviously wrong and burdensome to the company, the court would have the right to suspend it pending litigation?