Message of Gov. J. S. Hogg to the twenty-third Legislature of Texas. Page: 12 of 28
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MESSAGE OF THE GOVERNOR.
It would be well to so frame the law as to permit all manufacturing,
transportation and other corporations whose purpose may not be the ownership
of lands, to possess. use and retain as much real estate as may be proper
for corporate necessarities; That those engaged in the building and improvement
of harbors, homes and additions to towns and cities shall not be
checked in their work; That the wholesome laws, regulating and controlling
irrigation and mining companies in the improvement, development
and use of arid and mining land, shall not be affected; That all corporations
engaged in redeeming swamp or overflowed lands may go on undisturbed.
Under existing conditions there is no public necessity of placing any further
restrictions around corporations engaged now in improvements and
industries beneficiai to the public. The aim of the movement is to prevent
the further investment by land corporations in agricultural and grazing lands
and all other lands for speculative purposes.
THE RAILWAY COMMISSION.
Before the adoption of the Commission Amendment it became generally
conceded that under the constitution the power to make and regulate the
traffic rates to be collected by the railways in this State was vested in the
legislature without authority to delegate it to any government agency. This
power was partially exercised only by the legislature, and therefore it was
performed without restraint by the chosen agents of the corporations themselves.
The authority to collect tolls or traffic taxes is a governmental function that
cannot be legally exercised except by the consent of the government. Until
the Commission was created the railroads, by consent of the State, exercised
this franchise, at will raising, lowering, changing or maintaining traffic rates
collected from the commerce of Texas without notice to or consulting the
shipper, undisturbed from any source. The Commission law simply withdrew
this franchise from the railway companies, who had always acted
through agents selected by themselves, and delegated it to three citizens as
agents of the State government, called a Railway Commission. By that law
the power and authority was vested in the Commission, and it was made its
duty to adopt all necessary rates, charges and regulations to govern and control
railroad freight and passenger tariffs; to correct abuses, to prevent unjust
discriminations and extortions therein and to enforce tile same by having
penalties inflicted on the delinquent companies as prescribed in the act through
the proper courts of the State having jurisdiction of the case. The main
object and purpose of the law was to vest the State agents with power to
do under oath what the corporate agents without oath had always done-to
levy the traffic taxes or tolls the people must pay when they ship over the
public carriers, called railroads.
The law was appropriately divided into several parts the power and
effect of neither one of which depends on the existence of the other.
First. The first pertains to the organization of the Commission and its
authority to establish rates and prescribe rules and regulations to govern the
transportation of traffic. In the exercise of this power, the Commission is required,
before it can establish any rate, to give the railroad company to be affected
thereby ten days notice of the time and place when and where it shall be
fixed, and guarantees the company the right to be fully heard at such time
and place to the end that justice may be done; and provides for a public investigation
and for process to enforce the attendance of its witnesses.
Second. The next division of the law simply prescribes a rule of evidence
to govern all the parties, including the railways and other persons, when the
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Hogg, J.S. (James S.). Message of Gov. J. S. Hogg to the twenty-third Legislature of Texas., book, January 12, 1893; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5861/m1/12/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .