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the courts are now located in a Federal building at Santa Fe, where they are desirons of remaining. Legislation has been pending proposing to eliminate the courts from the proposed new building, and, as you state, this legislation has now passed the Senate. If it receives favorable consideration in the House of Representatives and becomes a law, it will be possible for the department to begin the construction of the new postoffice building at an early date. Respectfully,
J. H. MOYLES,
Assistant Secretary. The Post Office Department is now renting a building which is absolutely inadequate for the accommodation of the post office at that city; they are also renting buildings for the accommodation of the United States land office and the Forest Service, and the building authorized by the act of March 4, 1913, is very much needed for the purposes herein mentioned.
The sundry civil appropriation bill carries an appropriation of $150,000 for the purpose of commencing the construction of said building on the site that has already been acquired.
REPAYMENT OF CERTAIN COMMISSIONS, ETC., UNDER
SEPTEMBER 5, 1919.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state
of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. ELSTON, from the Committee on the Public Lands, submitted
(To accompany S. 2129.]
The Committee on the Public Lands, to whom was referred the bill (S. 2129) to amend an act approved March 26, 1908, entitled “An act to provide for the repayment of certain commissions, excess payments, and purchase moneys paid under the public-land laws, having had the same under consideration, report it to the House with the recommendation that the bill do pass.
This legislation was recommended by the Department of the Interior, and the reasons therefor are set forth in the following letter from the Secretary of the Intericr to the chairman of the Committee on the Public Lands of the Senate, viz:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, May 29, 1919. The CHAIRMAN COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC LANDS,
United States Senate. My Dear Sir: The act of March 26, 1908 (35 Stat., 48), provides for the repayment of certain commissions, excess payments, and purchase moneys paid under the publicland laws. The administration thereof has convinced this department that certain amendments of the existing law are advisable.
Under the above act numerous applications for the repayment of money are being filed where the payments were made many years ago, some of them in the decades of 1870 to 1880 and 1880 to 1890. These claims are largely instigated by claim agents or attorneys resident in Washington, who receive a very large share of the receipts, as high as 50 per cent. These agents or attorneys search the records of the General Land Office for payments in which they are of the opinion that the whole or part thereof may be repaid under the act of March 26, 1908, whereupon they induce the party entitled to file an application for repayment under such an agreement as to fees as is above indicated and without expense to the applicant, who no doubt theretofore was not aware that he had any claim against the Government.
As to each individual, the amount involved is generally small, not exceeding upon an average $200, but an aggregation of such claims makes it worth while to the claim agents or attorneys. The presentation of these claims to the department necessitates a very large amount of labor and is expensive to the Government, as they involve the search of many old records, the chief benefit redounding to the claim agents or attorneys.
Under the proviso to section 7 of the act of March 3, 1891 (26 Stat., 1098), in certain classes of cases the Government must in the absence of a contest or protest filed within two years from the date of the receiver's receipt upon final entry, issue a patent. Similarly, I am of the opinion that an applicant for the repayment of money paid to the Government should file a request for its return within a limited time. I'inclose herewith a draft of a bill which it is believed will accomplish the desired purpose. The amendments to the existing law are found in the provisos to sections 1 and 2 and the addition of section 4. If these provisions are enacted into law, it would be necessary to file applications for the repayment of purchase moneys and commissions within two years from the rejection of an application, proof, or entry, and within two years from the date of the patent in the case of excess payments; or as to prior payments, within two years from the passage of the act, the department, under the proposed section 4, being given the usual power to make the necessary rules and regulations for carrying the act into effect.
The enactment of this legislation would be of great benefit in the administration of the law by this department, and would not inflict any hardship or injustice upon any person having a valid claim for repayment. If the proposed legislation meets with your approval and the accompanying draft is satisfactory, I would request that a bill to that effect be introduced by you. Cordially, yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE, Secretary. The amendments to the act of March 26, 1908, are carried in the provisos contained in section 1 and section 2 and are intended to constitute a reasonable statutory period of two years in the way of limitation on the filing of claims for repayment of purchase moneys and commissions mentioned in the act. Inasmuch as claims have been filed heretofore in some cases after a period of 20 years, it would seem reasonable and fair to limit the filing of all past claims to a period of two years from the passage of the present bill. By this method the department will terminate all stale transactions and may thereby clear its records. Your committee believes that the bill is in the interest of economy and efficiency.
AMENDMENTS TO FEDERAL FARM LOAN ACT
SEPTEMBER 5, 1919.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state
of the Union and ordered to be printed.
Mr. PLATT, from the Committee on Banking and Currency, submitted
[To accompany H. R. 9065.]
The Committee on Banking and Currency, to which was referred H. R. 9065, amending sections 3, 8, 10, 12, 26, and 21 of the Federal Farm Loan Act, report it back without amendment with the recommendation that it do pass.
This bill was originally introduced as H. R. 8586, on August 10, and after consideration by the committee was reprinted to include sundry corrections and amendments as H. R. 9065. It takes some of the so-called “red tape” out of the system and makes sundry minor changes in several sections of the act, changes suggested by the Federal Farm Loan Board to make the act more easily workable.
Section 1 of the bill amends the seventh paragraph of section 3 of the act, merely to provide for the appointment of deputy registrars. This section of the act has reference to the Farm Loan Board and its duties, among which is the appointment of a farm loan registrar in each farm loan district to receive applications for issues of farm loan bonds and to perform such other duties, etc." It has been found, as the business of the Federal Land Banks has increased, that the occasional absence or disability of farm loan registrars has occasioned delay, as no one is authorized by the act to perform his duties.
Section 2 of the bill amends section 8 of the act, a section which has reference to the Farm Loan Associations, the cooperative associations of borrowers. None but borrowers on farm mortgages can be members, but the act at present appears to require that an association shall vote upon an application for membership, besides approving the loan applied for. This is a part of the “red tape" complained of, as it causes unnecessary delay. The approval of the application for a loan is sufficient.
Section 3 of the bill amends section 10 of the act by striking out the provision requiring all three members of the loan committee of an association to examine the land of an applicant and sign a written report. This requirement has been a prolific source of delay as members of the local loan committees frequently live miles apart and it is not always easy to get them together. Under the amendment proposed the loan committee must "forthwith make, or cause to be made, such investigation as it may deem necessary, etc.” The members of the local committees generally know the character and solvency of their neighbors and the main thing is to get a report upon which the appraiser from the land bank of the district may base his examination, which really governs. The amendment permits the committee to delegate the investigation to some one accustomed to the appraisal of land values if it so desires.
Section 4 of the bill amends section 12 of the act, a section which has reference to the restrictions on loans and the terms and conditions under which they are made. The second condition or provision has reference to repayment of the loans by amortization, annual or semiannual installments, and this includes a provision that after five years from the date of the loan the mortgagor may make additional payments in sums of $25 or any multiple thereof." When the act was passed it was believed that $25 would be the most convenient unit of payment, but in actual practice such payments would generally upset the whole amortization scheme. Hence the amendment provides that the mortgagor may make on any regular installment date, any number of his regular payments in advance, or any portion thereof. Such payment would not interfere with the amortization scale, but would simply advance the date of final payment.
A further amendment changes the restriction in subdivision (d) of the fourth provision. This provision recites that "loans may be made for the following purposes and for no other.” (See p. 6 of the bill, lines 12 to 20, inclusive.)
Subdivision (d) before amendment read as follows: To liquidate indebtedness of the owner of the land mortgaged existing at the time of the organization of the first national farm loan association established in and for the county in which the land mortgaged is situated, or indebtedness subsequently incurred for purposes mentioned in this section.
As amended the subdivision will read: To liquidate indebtedness of the owner of the land mortgaged contracted for any of the purposes enumerated in one of the subparagraphs (a) (b) and (c) above. (Lines 12 to 20 of the bill.)
Section 5 of the bill amends section 20 of the act by striking out the authorization for $25 and $50 bonds. Scarcely any bonds of these denominations have been sold, and as $50 Liberty bonds fill the place of a similar investment for the small investor the expense of printing these small bonds seems unwarranted. Some members of the committee felt also that these small bunds contribute to inflation by being used practically as currency. The amendment further authorizes bonds of larger denomination than $1,000.
Section 6 of the bill amends section 21 of the act by providing for the selection of vice presidents of Federal land banks and permitting the vice presidents and assistant secretaries to sign bonds. This is another amendment designed to prevent delay.