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of transportation. The average rate per ton per mile of transporta tion of commodities is not 20 per cent. of what such average rate per ton per mile was when the new Constitution was put in force. Discriminations of the most serious character, which afflicted our commerce a quarter of a century ago, have largely been eliminated. The convenience, the comforts and the facilities for transportation of both passengers and properties are ten fold better than they were two decades ago. Some improvements have been made in the introduction of safety appliances to lessen the liability of fatal and non-fatal accidents, among passengers, employes and other persons.

The equipment of our Pennsylvania transportation companies is the best that can be found, not only in any State of the Union, but in any government on the earth. The road-bed and bridges for strength and safety can not be surpassed anywhere. Rapidity of transportation of passengers and properties can scarcely be criticised, and there was never a time in the development of transportation facilities and instrumentalities when conditions were so fa orable, and when the common carriers were so truly and completely conservators of the State, the shipper and the passenger as they are in these closing days of the year 1906.

Whence Comes This Demand for Another Department?

Notwithstanding these conditions, the truth of which can not by any possibility be gainsaid or refuted, there is a great awakening among political leaders of all parties favoring the establishment of a Railroad Commission in Pennsylvania. Strange as this awaken ing may seem to be, and dormant as have been the sensibilities of those who profess to care for and to be the guardians of the pubiic welfare, nevertheless it is apparant that there will be a strenuous effort made at the coming session of the Legislature to organize another new department of our State government. It is true that there are matters in regard to transportation which demand public attention, wrongs which exist which need correction and improvements to be made which will further contribute to the splendid conditions which now exist surrounding the transportation facilities in our Commonwealth.

What is necessary to do to improve conditions? Is it necessary to establish a Railroad Commission? And if it is necessary, can such a Commission be established under the existing fundamental law as contained in section 11, article 17 of the Constitution?

Origin of the Power to Supervise Railway Corporations. Prior to the adoption of the present Constitution, the affairs of transportation companies were placed in the custody of the Auditor

General of the State. If reference be had to the act of 1859, it will be found that upon the Auditor General were imposed certain duties in relation to the affairs of transportation companies and that transportation companies were also required to discharge certain duties to the public through the Auditor General. Again, in 1870 another act was passed of nearly the same import, conferring upon the Auditor General duties and powers relating to common carrier corporations, and certain duties were prescribed and required to be performed by railroad and other transportation companies to the Governor and Legislature through the Auditor General. This was the condition with reference to the reciprocal duties and powers of the Auditor General, the public functions to be performed and the duties to be discharged by transportation companies in 1874 when the new Constitution went into force.

Transfer of Powers Under the New Constitution.

What change was then made by the new fundamental law of the Commonwealth? Among other things provided for in that instru ment embracing our fundamental law was the establishment of the Department of Internal Affairs and the creation of the office of Secretary of Internal Affairs as its head or executive officer. This instrument in part prescribes his duties, and in so far as those duties were prescribed in the Constitution, they exist to-day with as much force and effect, and are entitled to as much respect and are to be obeyed as faithfully as any other provision of the Constitution. Leg islative enactments never have legally changed the mandates or provisions of that instrument. Neither can any such legislative enactment modify or limit its expressed provisions on any subject re lating to the Commonwealth or its affairs.

Remembering therefore that the act of 1859 and the act of 1870 imposed certain duties and gave certain powers to the Auditor General with reference to transportation companies, was there any change made with reference to these duties and powers by the new Constitution, and if changes were made or duties conferred or powers given to any other State officer, such transfer is of great importance in considering the legality of the proposition to create a Railroad Commission, upon whom duties shall be imposed and powers conferred relating to the public functions of transportation companies or their supervision in conducting the business of common carriers. Section 11 of article 17 of the Constitution reads as follows:

"The existing powers and duties of the Auditor General in regard to railroads, canals and other transportation companies, except as to their accounts, are hereby transferred to the Secretary of Internal Affairs, who shall have a general supervision over them, subject to such regulations and alterations

as shall be provided by law; and, in addition to the annual reports now required to be made, said Secretary may require special reports at any time upon any subject relating to the business of said companies from any officer or officers thereof."

In this section of article 17 is a clear, concise and wholesome statement that the existing powers and duties of the Auditor General in regard to railroads, canals and other transportation companies were transferred to the Secretary of Internal Affairs, and to this officer additional powers were given enabling him to make demands of any transportation company for special reports, upon any subject relating to the business of such transportation companies, which in his judgment public necessities required. It is true that in this clause of additional powers given over those previously exercised by the Auditor General, there is a qualification that such additional supervision may be subject to such alterations as shall be provided by law, but it is also a fact about which there can be no doubt, that all the powers and all the duties of the Auditor General in relation to transportation companies, were transferred, conferred and imposed on the Secretary of Internal Affairs where they remain until this day, and further, in the most specific terms general supervisory powers were also given.

If efficacy is to be given to the plain English of the Constitution, if its mandates are to be obeyed, if legislative enactments are to conform to its specific provisions then made, certain it is that these powers and duties can not be legally taken away from the Secretary of Internal Affairs, without first amending the fundamental law.

In section 19 of article 4 of the Constitution, it is provided that the Secretary of Internal Affairs shall discharge such duties relat ing to corporations, to the charitable institutions, the agricultural, manufacturing, mining, mineral, timber and other material or busi ness interests of the State as may be prescribed by law. In this section the duties of the Secretary of Internal Affairs with reference to these branches of the industrial and business affairs of the Commonwealth may depend upon legislative enactments to give them efficacy, but in section 11 of article 17, there was nothing left for the Legislature to do to make this transfer of duties and powers from the Auditor General to the Secretary of Internal Affairs complete. No legislative enactment was necessary, and any legislative enact laent attempting to confer those duties and powers would have been superfluous. So far therefore as section 11 of article 17 of the Constitution is concerned on this particular subject, it executes it self and is in no way dependent upon legislative enactments. It must of necessity follow therefore that the Secretary of Internal Affairs is clothed with the Constitutional duty and power of super

vising the affairs of transportation companies in Pennsylvania. How then can a Railroad Commission be created and given the power of supervision in view of the Constitutional provision herein referred to?

Every act of the Legislature passed since the adoption of the new Constitution relating to the report, both special and annual, and to the powers and duties to be discharged in reference to common car rier corporations enlarging the scope of action and powers, as they relate to the Secretary of Internal Affairs, has been based on this section 11 of article 17 of the Constitution. Is it not a fact therefore that any law which may be passed attempting to confer upon a Railroad Commission the powers which now Constitutionally belong to the Secretary of Internal Affairs would be invalid and ineffectual because of its unconstitutionality?

Some of the Improvements to be Effected.

It is true as before indicated that there are features of transportation which need attention in Pennsylvania. There is still room for improvement in some of the comforts which should be given to passengers, in the sanitary regulations in public stations, insuring more comforts and conveniences, more adequate facilities, greater freedom from discrimination, more equitable adjustment of rates, restrictive regulations as to capitalization, the issuance of fictitious stock prohibited and the limitations of bonded indebtedness more accurately defined; and there doubtless are other things which need attention such as grade crossings, safety appliances and investigation of accidents.

Additional Powers Should be Conferred upon Bureau of Railways. All these can be provided for in a Constitutional way by conferring additional powers and duties upon the Secretary of Internal Affairs. If a Board of Railroad Commissioners is to be created, it should be in the Bureau of Railways of the Department of Internal Affairs, subject to the administration of the Secretary of Internal Affairs. in conformity with the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Then. the Constitution would be observed and its mandatory requirements complied with. All this can be done and the public interests conserved by increasing the powers of the Bureau of Railways in the Department of Internal Affairs, just as effectually, with the accomplishment of as much good to the Commonwealth, and with immeasurably less expense, than by the establishment of another new de partment of our State government.

It is a perilous undertaking to pass a law for the establishment of a Railroad Commission, independent of the Department of In

ternal Affairs, in view of the plain conditions of the Constitution referred to, for in an emergency, when the validity of the act should be passed upon by the courts, such act would undoubtedly be weighed in the balance and found wanting.

In considering the observations herein made in the annual report of the Bureau of Railways, personal interests are entirely wanting as the present Secretary of Internal Affairs is to retire from office at the close of the present term and could not be affected adversely or beneficially in any legislation that might be made with reference to the establishment of a Railroad Commission, or to the increasing of the powers already conferred upon the Secretary of Internal Affairs.

The Bureau of Railways as now constituted occupies the most advanced lines attainable under the limited powers given and the ridiculously insignificant appropriations that are made for its support in the discharge of the duties imposed by law. It has been next to impossible to get even the paltry sum of $1,000 per annum, to defray expenses of investigations to be made under the act of 1874, to say nothing about the expense attending searches after delinquent corporations and investigation of railway accidents. Two years ago a small advance was made in the annual appropriation but that was in part vetoed by the Governor.

Earnest efforts have been made to make this Bureau a credit to the Commonwealth, and these efforts have been made under adverse circumstances. The annual reports tell their own story of worth. If the public interests have been conserved in this work. then the destruction of the Bureau of Railways can not be justified. and the wrong approaches a crime when the Constitution is to be violated in its destruction by the establishment of an independent Railroad Commission.


Twenty years ago in Pennsylvania no small percentage of the tonnage that originated on the farms, in the mines, factories and other industrial centers of the Commonwealth, found its way to market upon the canals which were then still being operated.

At the time of the sale of the public works many years ago, it was in the contract of the sale that the canals should be kept open by the purchasers for the convenience of the people in the transportation of their productions.

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