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Part F of Table V deals with statutory provisions regarding management, construction, and extension. The first subject considered is that of the usual powers specifically granted by law in almost all States to railroad corporations. The first column is entitled “Those Usual Powers Mentioned in the Text.” This refers to those general powers common to all corporations, such as the power to sue and be sued; to plead and be impleaded; to complain and defend; to have and use a corporate seal and alter the same at pleasure; to acquire, hold, and dispose of real and personal property necessary to the purposes of the corporation; to adopt by-laws; to elect officers; to appoint agents and employees, and to borrow money, issue bonds, and make mortgages. It also refers to some of those powers essential to the working of a railroad corporation, such as the power to enter upon any property in order to make surveys; to lay out its road; to cross other railroads; to construct its road upon, across, or along rivers, streets, and highways, restoring the same as nearly as possible to their previous condition and not impairing their usefulness; to transport persons and property for compensation; to erect necessary buildings and fixtures, and so forth.
The next column is entitled “ To make Conditional Sales of Railroad Equipment and Rolling Stock.” This refers to a law appearing in slightly varied form in many of the statute books, the substance of which is that in any contract for the sale or lease of railroad equipment or rolling stock it shall be lawful to stipulate that the title shall remain vested in the vendor, bailor, or lessor until payment has been made as provided and the conditions of the contract fulfilled. Such contracts are usually required to be recorded.
Among corporate powers relative to construction, those most frequently granted are: the right of eminent domain; the power to erect tracks at railroad crossings; to alter the location of the line, though in such manner as not to vary the general route; to separate grades at highway crossings, or change the location of highways at crossings. A number of States permit railroad corporations to give aid to, or guarantee the stocks and bonds of, other railroads. Among the powers relative to the extension of operation those most frequently granted are: the right to exercise all its corporate powers in other States subject to the laws thereto; also, the power to extend the line and build branches.
Part G of Table V is concerned with a variety of subjects, namely: corporate powers relating to the alteration of the provisions of incorporation; to consolidation, merger, etc.; to changes n capital stock, and to foreign corporations. In regard to the first subject, many States permit railroads to amend their articles of incorporation and to change their corporate name. A few also permit a change in the character of the business. With respect to the subject of consolidation, it may be said that there has been much legislation on this subject, and a distinct tendency may be perceived to remove all limitations to the powers of railroad corporations as regards consolidation, merger, purchase of lease, except the general prohibition against the consolidation of parallel lines. Since 1890 twenty-six States have enacted thirty-eight acts extending the powers of railroads in regard to this matter, while there has been a total of only five acts in any way restricting it.
Forty-six States in 1890 provided for the increase or decrease of capital stock by vote of a certain proportion of the stock, and the laws usually fixed the maximum and minimum limits of such increase or decrease. Since 1890 fourteen acts have been passed extending this power. In only four cases has it been limited in any particular and in no case has it been entirely withdrawn. Almost all States have provisions specially applicable to foreign railroad corporations. These provisions exhibit a great variety, but the most common ones are as follows:
Foreign railroads must keep agents for the service of process in the State.
Construction, Maintenance, and Operation.-Table VI is concerned with statutory provisions regarding the technical aspects of railroad construction, maintenance, and operation. There have been a large number of enactments in regard to this subject since 1890, a fact which manifests the disposition of legislators more and more to subject these aspects of the railroad industry to public regulation. Laws have been enacted modifying or extending the character of public regulation in four hundred and sixty-seven particulars. This does not mean that four hundred and sixty-seven separate acts have been passed, but that that number of separate provisions have been included in the legislation of the States since 1890. These provisions have been distributed among the several subjects treated in this table as follows: Right of way
58 Tickets and baggage
25 Obstructions to railroad business.
2 Provisions peculiar to a few States
These laws have been enacted to a greater or less extent in all of the States, but especially in Connecticut, New York, Arkansas, Minnesota, and North Dakota, and to a somewbat less extent in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Montana. At the present time it may be said that the following States have the most complete laws covering the subject of construction, maintenance, and operation: Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Minnesota, although in Delaware, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina the laws are tolerably complete.
Part A of Table VI is concerned with statutory provisions regarding roadway. The maximum width of the right of way is almost always stated in the law. In twenty-one States it is one hundred feet, in eleven States it is two hundred feet, and in eleven other States a different width is prescribed. About two thirds of the States require railroads to fence their roadway, but in some cases the requirement extends only to that part of the right of way which passes through inclosed land. No other provisions are found in many States. About one-quarter of the States require railroads to keep their way clear of combustibles and of noxious weeds; to connect tracks at railroad crossings; to block frogs and switches; and to maintain guards near overhead obstructions. In a few cases the route must be approved by some authority specified in the law. The laws on the subject of roadway are most complete in Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Ohio, and Kentucky.
Part B of Table VI deals with the subject of railroad and highway crossings. This whole matter has received a comparatively large amount of attention. The majority of States have laws requiring railroads to maintain crossings and approaches; to construct and maintain private crossings; to keep flagmen or gates at highway crossings; to keep warning boards at railroad crossings; and to maintain cattle guards at highway crossings. Since 1890 seven States have passed laws requiring the erection of interlocking devices. On these subjects the laws are most complete in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio. An important subject in connection with crossings is that of the separation of grades. Since 1890 there have been thirtytwo enactments in thirteen States affecting the separation of grades at either new or old crossings. Twenty States now have provisions permitting the separation of grades at highway crossings. Sixteen States require the separation of such grades when ordered by the railroad commission or a court or other agency. Moreover, six States have laws requiring the separation of grades at railroad crossings when required by the railroad commission or a court. The laws on the subject of the separation of grades are especially complete in the New England States, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina, and Michigan.
Part C of Tahle VI is concerned with the subject of trains and the movement of trains. Those rules and provisions most frequently found are as follows:
That conductors have the powers of police officers.
About one-half of the States have laws respecting trains which are very complete, but the laws of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina are especially full.
Part D of the table deals with stations, and here there are comparatively few provisions to be found. The most common are, that stations must be built under certain circumstances, usually when ordered by the railroad commission, and that bulletins must be posted at stations to announce whether trains are on time or not. The laws on this subject are fairly complete in Connecticut, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, and South Dakota.
Part D also covers the subject of tickets and baggage. And here, again, few provisions are found which are common to many States. Those most frequently enacted have been, that railroads must carry and check “ordinary baggage” free; also, provisions fixing the weight of ordinary baggage. In eight States antiscalping laws have been enacted. The laws on this subject are fairly complete in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas, and Montana.
Part E of this table is concerned with the subject of employees. A number of provisions especially applicable to railroad employees have been enacted in many of the States, especially in Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. Such provisions are, for example, that employees in the passenger and baggage departments are required to wear badges when on duty, and that employees shall be punishable for being intoxicated when on duty or for neglect of duty endangering human life or safety.
Part E also contains the provisions which have been enacted, in eleven States, to protect railroads from the results of strikes on their own or on other lines. The eleven States mentioned are: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania; also, Kentucky since 1893 and Michigan until 1891. The laws of Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, are especially complete. There have, however, been only two enactments on this subject since 1890.
Rates.—Table VII is concerned with statutes pertaining to rates. Upon this subject there has been little legislation since 1890, except in connection with the control of rates by railroad commissions. A number of States have enacted laws fixing the maximum rates for freight or passengers. The following summary will show the number of these laws in existence at the beginning and the end of our period.
Acts supplementary to these maximum rate laws were enacted during the period in Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Washington, and West Virginia. Of the twenty-two acts in force in 1890 eighteen were in States without strong commissions. Of the twenty-six in force in 1902, however, only sixteen were in such States, or fifteen, if the North Carolina Corporation Commission be excepted. In no case was the control over rates relinquished or modified except as preliminary to an extension of the powers conferred on commissions. This had been done in 1890 in two of the twenty-two States and in 1902 in nine of the twenty-six States mentioned above. There is, then, something of a tendency to relinquish control through maximum rate laws in favor of regulation by commissions.
A number of States have laws fixing the minimum time of notice in case of advance or reduction in rates. The length of notice required for advance in rates ranges from three days in South Carolina to sixty days in Kansas. So also the length of notice required for reduction in rates ranges from no days in several States to sixty days in Kansas. About one-half of the States permit railroads to offer free or cheaper service to the United States or local governments, to ministers and paupers, also for fairs, celebrations, excursions, etc. About one-half of the States, also, have laws requiring that schedules of rates be posted at stations or kept there for public inspection.
Regulations Relating to Traffic. - Table VIII, which deals with regulations relating to traffic, covers such subjects as the interchange of traffic, the furnishing of cars and facilities, the classification of freight, freight receipts, transportation of dangerous articles and of live stock and game, and the sale of unclaimed goods. But the subjects here mentioned have received very little attention from the legislatures of the States since 1890). The only specific provisions which are common to many States are, that railroads must interchange traffic and haul cars of connecting railroads, and that they must furnish adequate car facilities. A number of States also regulate the transportation of explosive or inflammable articles, and some also limit the number of hours during which live stock may be confined in a stock car at any one time.
Public Reports.-- Table IX deals with the subject of the reports which railroads are required to make to some public authority. Such reports are required in all except the following States and Territories: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Indian Territory, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia; and Oregon since 1898. In most cases the reports are required to be made to the railroad commission, but in fourteen States they are to be made to some other public officer, more usually to the secretary of state. In every case reports are to be made annually. A study of the column which gives the year which must be covered by the reports shows a slight tendency to adopt the year ending June 30. The following statement gives the figures upon this subject:
Four changes have been made in the laws upon this subject since 1990 and in three of those cases June 30 has been the date adopted. Over one-half of the States, also, require that railroads file maps and profiles of their lines, branches, and extensions with some public officer.
Prohibitions and Limitations.--Table X deals with statutory provisions which impose upon railroads prohibitions or limitations in regard to the following subjects: rates and traffic, maintenance and operation, officers and directors, bonds and indebtedness, consolidation, merger, etc., free passes, and capital stock. But the legislation enacted since 1890 upon this subject shows no decided tendencies. Almost all States have laws against unjust discrimination and extortion, and in over one-half of the States there is a long and short haul clause. The prohibition is always accompanied by a detinition, more or less elaborate, of what constitutes extortion or unjust discrimination. Sixteen States have antipooling laws, and about one-half of the States have passed laws subjecting railroads to a certain amount of control by local authorities as to operation in their respective cities or towns. Acts have also been passed limiting the issue of bonds and stocks. In some cases it is provided that bonds shall not exceed the capital stock, and in still others that the total indebtedness is not to exceed the capital stock. In many States there are laws forbidding fictitious issues of stocks and bonds. The consolidation of parallel lines is also forbidden in twenty-three States, in thirteen of them by constitutional provisions.
Statutory Prorixionx Concerning Penaltirx. —Table XI deals with penalties for the violation of the provisions of railroad law. There are many such penalties and the table shows a number of changes since 1890. These changes are largely due, however, to alterations in the commission laws or are incidental to the new laws respecting construction, maintenance, and operation. The penalties imposed by law exhibit a great range as between the different States. The following examples will serve to illustrate this: Penalties imposed for violating any rules or orders of the commission range from a fine of one hundred dollars in one tate to forfeiture of corporate existence in another, and in still another a fine of from one hundred to five thousand dollars on the company, and a fine of not over five hundred dollars and imprisonment of not over six months on the responsible officers or agents.
The penalty upon directors who consent to a declaration of dividends except from the surplus profits of the corporation ranges from a fine of not over three hundred dollars and imprisonment not over six months, or both, in one State, to forfeiture of corporate existence in another, and in still another to a fine of not over five thousand dollars or imprisonment not over three years, or both.
Again, the penalty for violating established charges for switching, etc., ranges from a fine of from ten to twenty-five dollars in one State, to a fine in another State of from twenty-five hundred to five thousand dollars for the first offense and five thousand to ten thousand dollars for subsequent offenses. Perhaps the most notable difference between the penalties imposed in the several States may be seen in the case of the provisions respecting extortion and discrimination. For these offenses the fines range from fifty dollars in one State and one hundred dollars in several other States, up to a graded fine with a maximum of twenty-five thousand dollars in one State and fines reaching as high as ten thousand dollars in several others. Another notable difference as between the States may be seen in the case of penalties for obstructing railroad tracks or impeding transportation. Here the penalty ranges from fifty dollars in one State and treble damages in another, to capital punishment or life imprisonment in others. This table exhibits many more instances of the same sort. But it must be remembered that in a number of States general penalties are imposed for the violation of provisions for which no specific penalties have been provided, thus making the penalties for many offenses disproportionate.
A study of the table discloses the fact that in certain States penalties tend to be rather high, while in others they tend to be rather low. In the first class belong Kansas, North Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri. In the second class belong Connecticut, Mississippi, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia. It should be mentioned that when in the table of statutory penalties the following is found: First offense, $—; second offense, 8; third offense, $
. ---, the last penalty is the one provided not only for the third offense, but for any subsequent offense as well. When the State declares that no one violating its provisions shall be liable for damages, the fact is not recorded in the table, as it is not a penal provision. If, however, the offender is made liable for double or triple damages, the fact is noted, as it is punitive as well as remedial in character.
AGENCIES OTHER THAN COMMISSIONS FOR SUPERVISORY CONTROL OVER RAILROADS.
A tendency may be perceived in the disposition of certain States to regulate railroads through agencies other than commissions. These agencies are created sometimes in addition to, and sometimes in the absence of, commissions. The supervision entrusted to them varies widely from authority over one or two details of railroad management, as in the case of the Wisconsin Board of Crossings, to jurisdiction fully as complete as that of any railroad commission, as in the case of the Kansas Court of Visitation or the North Carolina Corporation Commission and the Virginia Corporation Commission, which last is to be established in the place of the Railroad Commissioner, in pursuance of the constitution of 1902. In 1890 four such agencies had been established:
In Pennsylvania, the Secretary of Internal Affairs.
Also, a Board to Approve Articles of Consolidation of Railroad Corporations.
1893, Michigan-Railroad and Street Crossing Board.