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scheme, and the same difficulty will be encountered in any attempt to arrive at uniformity by voluntary agreement of the carriers, and it is the opinion of your committee that unless uniform classification of freight is secured within a reasonable time by the voluntary action of the railroads themselves, the necessary legislation should be asked of congress requiring its adoption.
One of the difficulties standing in the way of universal uniformity is the power of the different states to regulate the classification for state shipments. At the request of some of the gentlemen present at the New York meeting, the chairman of your committee addressed a circular letter to the different state commissions requesting their opinion as to the action of their states on the subject if a classification was agreed upon by the companies or made by the interstate commerce commission by authority of congress,
From twenty-two out of twenty-eight states having commissions, replies have been received, copies of which are filed herewith and made part of this report. Eighteen expressed themselves in favor of uniform classification and the expediency of immediate action by congress upon the subject; four are non-committal, mainly for the reason that their commissions have no power upon the subject of rates or classification.
It would seem from this correspondence that a just and reasonable classification, carefully guarding the interests of all sections of the country, such as would undoubtedly be made by the interstate commerce commission if the subject were intrusted to them for adjustment, would soon be approved by all state authorities.
In their last report to congress the interstate commerce commission recommended that that body take some action looking toward the adoption of uniform classification, and the National Board of Trade, at their twenty-sixth annual meeting, held in Washington Jan. 28, 29, and 30, 1896, adopted a memorial to congress earnestly recommending the passage of a resolution requiring the interstate commerce commission to prepare and publish on or before Oct. 1, 1896, a classification of freight articles and rules and regulations and conditions for freight transportation, to be known as the “National Freight Classification." The memorial and resolution were introduced in the seuate by Senator Cullom and referred to the committee on interstate commerce.
Each member of the committee has received from Mr. James Peabody a copy of his paper read at the convention of 1895, entitled "A sientific basis for making carriers' rate schedule.” This paper is entitled to careful consideration by anybody having authority to make a classification, but your committee do not deem it within their province to determine upon what basis a classification should be made. We think it proper to leave that for the consideration of the interstate commerce commission, should congress instruct then to make such classification.
We therefore refrain from expressing any opinion upon what basis a classification should be made, excepting that two points should always be kept in mind: First, that equal justice should be done all shippers and discrimination prevented in every form; secord, that the revenues of the companies should be preserved so that money honestly and judiciously invested will receive a proper return on investment.
Your committee respectfully submits the following resolution:
Resolved, That the national convention of railroad commissioners, recognizing the necessity of uniform classification of freight in the interests of both the commercial republic and the railroads, do respectfully recommend that the railroad companies of the United States, through their respective traffic associations, prepare a uniform classification for adoption by the intestate commerce commission, the various state railroad commissions, and the railroads themselves, and that in the event of the failure of the railroad companies to prepare and adopt such uniform classification within a reasonable time, the necessary legislation should be asked of congress requiring the adoption of a uniform classification of freight, and that the interstate commerce commission be charged with the duty of preparing and enforcing such classification.
Resolved, That the interstate commerce commission be respectfully requested to communicate from time to time with the various railroad interests with the view of forwarding the work; and that the said commission be requested to present a suitable bill to congress in the event of a failure on the part of the railroads to prepare and adopt a uniform classification within a reasonable time.
IRA B. MILLS,
A few days subsequent to the adoption of this report, the senate committee on interstate commerce reported a bill requiring the interstate commerce commission to make a classification on or before the first day of March, 1897; for lack of time this was not acted upon by the senate.
The national convention of railroad commissioners and their committee on uniform classification deem it to be the best interest of both the common carriers and the shipping public, that a classification be made by a committee appointed by the carriers themselves, rather than to have one made by the interstate commerce commission, and wish by this means to urge upon the railroad companies the necessity of immediate action on their part looking toward an early adoption of the uniform classification of freight throughout the United States.
Very respectfully yours,
IRA B. MILLS, Chairman.
The following resolution, prepared by a member of this commission, was adopted unanimously at the same convention. It refers to a bill then and now pending in congress to amend section 10 of the act to regulate commerce, by repealing the provision which makes any person violating its provisions liable to imprisonment in the penitentiary, in addition to the fines therein provided. The resolution was as follows:
The railroad commissioners of the different states in convention assembled at Washington, May 20, 1896, respectfully but earnestly protest against the change proposed to be made in the "act to regulate commerce," by amending section 10 of said act, as embodied in a bill for that purpose now pending in both houses of congress.
Discrimination in rates as to persons and places is beyond question the greatest evil in the railway management of the present day. To prevent and remedy this offense, more than anything else, was the purpose of the "act to regulate commerce," approved Feb. 4, 1887.
Although section 10 has been on the statute books for some years, it has only been given force and effect within a recent period by a decision of the supreme court of the United States.
It is far better, in the opinion of this convention, to give it a fair trial before changing its provisions.
Like bribery and other similar offenses, the practice of discrimination in rates is a crime against the commonwealth. It is, when committed, a crime in the railway official who is guilty of it. It is equally a crime on the part of the shipper who solicits and profits by it. Both parties merit and should receive the severest punishment known to the law.
It is our deliberate conviction that, if experience shows that the law as now framed is ineffectual and inoperative, greater and severer penalties should attach to the violation thereof.
We are opposed to any amendments to the interstate law until it be so amended as a whole that, under the light of recent decisions of the supreme court of the United States, the rights and interests of the people in general are properly safeguarded under it, the duties and responsibilities of the carriers are carefully fixed and defined in it, and the power and authority of the interstate commerce commission are properly established by it.
The officers of this convention are hereby directed to send copies of this resolution to the president of the senate and the speaker of the house, to the end that the same may be laid before each branch of congress.
At the same convention a report was made by the secretary of this commission, who was chairman of a special committee appointed to consider the subject of government ownership, control, and regulation of railways. This report is published in the report of the proceedings of the convention and is a comprehensive, exhaustive, and valuable document.
There is a defect in section 17 of our railroad law, relating to the filing of annual reports by the carriers subject to the act.
The duty of making such reports is enjoined by the statate, but it fails to prescribe a definite time within which they shall be filed and contains no penalties for neglect and failure in that regard. The fiscal year of the railroads in this state ends on June 30th, but many carriers delay their returns for an unreasonable time. This causes vexatious delay in the work of compilation, and prevents the commission from making its report at the time prescribed by law.
We recommend that section 17 be so amended as to require these reports to be filed with the commission on or before September 15th of each year, and that obedience to this rquirement be enforced by adequate penalty for non-compliance. It would also be well to have some time limit placed upon the state printer, in order to secure more expeditious work on his part when the manuscript is placed in his hands for publication.
APPROPRIATIONS. The regular annual appropriation for the uses of the commission is $14,000 per annum. The legislature of 1895 made an additional appropriation of $3,000 per annum, to enable the commission to more efficiently perform its work. This sum was expended for office rent, traveling expenses, postage, witness fees, stenographers, and other incidental expenses attendant upon the hearing of complaints before the commission.
The commission recommends a similar appropriation for its use for the years 1898 and 1899.
EXPRESS COMPANIES. In our report for 1895 we made reference to the efforts of the commission to enforce the act to regulate express companies, approved March 19, 1895.
The companies operating the various express lines in this state. ncglected to comply with any of the provisions of said act, though repeatedly called upon to do so, and on the eighth day of August,
1895, the whole subject was referred by the commission to the attorney general, with a request that proceedings be commenced, in court to compel the companies to obey the law.
A test case was thereupon commenced against the Adams Express Company in the district court of Ramsey county. Application was made for a writ of mandamus, which, after a hearing, and some delay, was allowed by the court. From this decision of the district court of Ramsey county the Adams Express Company appealed to the supreme court of the state. The appeal was argued in October, 1896, and a decision rendered by the suprme court sustaining the decision of the court below. We give herewith a copy of this decision, with a letter from the attorney general relating thereto. The commission expects at no distant date to compel, with the aid of the courts, obedience to this law.
REORGANIZATIONS OF RAILROAD COMPANIES. During the year ending Nov. 30, 1896, the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, which went into receivership in 1893, was reorganized under the name of the Northern Pacific Railway Com. pany. This reorganization was perfected during August last, so that the report of that company given in this report is made by the receivers. Mr. E. W. Winter, formerly general manager of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway Company, is the president of the reorganized company.
The Duluth & Winnipeg Railroad Company has also been reorganized during the past year, under the name of the Duluth, Superior & Western Railway Company, with Mr. W.F. Fitch of Marquette, Mich., as president; Mr. Fitch is also the general manager of the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic railway.
At the present time there is no railroad in Minnesota operated by receivers.
CONCLUSION. Attention is called to the reports, hereto appended, of the chief inspector of grain and the state weighmasters, which give a full and complete exhibit of the work done and the methods pursued by this department of the state service.
The commission desires to indorse and emphasize the recommendations of the chief inspector with. reference to maintaining the efficiency of this branch of the public service.
The chairman of this commission for several years, Col. W. M. Liggett, resigned in the latter part of October, 1896, to accept the
position of dean of the state agricultural college of this state, and on November 16th Nathan Kingsley, Esq., of Austin, who had been appointed as his successor, entered upon his duties as railroad and warehouse commissioner. Judge Ira B. Mills was elected chairman of the commission. The following correspondence explains itself:
St. Paul, Nov. 12, 1896. To the Attorney General,
Sir: For the purpose of completing the annual report of the commission, we desire to obtain from you, at your earliest convenience, information as to the present status in each of the following cases, which are now pending in the courts, under your direction:
The Steenerson case,
If in either of these cases you have printed copies of any briefs prepared for the argument thereof, the commission would be obliged to you for a copy of the same for its use.
Yours very respectfully,
A. K. TEISBERG, Secretary.
St. Paul, Nov. 21, 1896.' Hon. A. K. Teisberg, Secretary Railroad and Warehouse Commission,
Dear Sir: I beg to acknowledge receipt of your ommunication of the 12th iust., in which you desire to be informed as to the status of the following cases: The Steenerson case, the Adams Express Company case, the Hauley Falls case.
The Steenerson case is now pending in the supreme court, to which an appeal was taken by the state from an order of the district court of Ramsey county denying a new trial. The case will be disposed of at the present term of court.
The Adams Express Con:pany case is now pending in the supreme court, to which an appeal was taken by the express company from an order of the district court of Ramsey county retaining jurisdiction in the proceedings. Motion was made on behalf of the said company by its special appearance. to set aside the service in the mandamus proceedings upon the agent of the company representing it in this state. The company is what is known as a joint stock association, partaking in its nature of a partnership, all the members of whom are non-residents of this state and represented herein by their agent as aforesaid. It was contended on the part of the company that, in view of the nature of the association, the courts of this state could not acquire jurisdiction over it by a service upon its agent. The state contended at the hearing that the legislature had expressly provided the manner of service and that the same was pursued. The district court sustained the position of the state and retained jurisdiction. From the order thus inade an appeal was taken, as aforesaid, to the supreme court. The last named court has recently affinned the decision of the district court in a well considered decision, and which will, no doubt, be decisive of the jurisdiction of your commission and of the courts in all matters touching public relation to individuals, partnerships, associations or corporations doing an express business in this state.
In the Hanley Falls case an appeal has been taken by the railroad companies to the district court of Lac qui Parle county, where the case is now pending. Arrangements are now being made with a view to a hearing at the approaching term of that court, which will begin in the present month. I trust that it may be disposed of so far as that court is concerned some time in December of the present year.
I am, very respectfully,
H. w. CHILDS, Attorney General.