Message of Gov. J. S. Hogg to the twenty-third Legislature of Texas. Page: 14 of 28
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MESSAGE OF THE GOVERNOR.
be recovered and the courts in which actions therefor may be maintained
against the offending company.
This law contains twenty-three sections and thirty-two subdivisions thereof,
appropriately divided, and are intended to give effect to the four general features
just discussed, to wit: (1.) Thle power of the Commission.to make
rates. (2.) The rule of evidence to be obeyed by the courts when the enforcement
of rates is the object. (3.) The right of all parties, including
the railways, to contest any action of the Commission and the court through
which it may be done. And (4.) the penalties to be recovered from the
offending company for a violation of the Commission law. Neither the rule
of evidence nor the jurisdictional question, nor the penalties prescribed, add
to nor diminiish the power of the Commission to exercise the delegated authority
as a judicial tribunal in establishing rates, rules and regulations to
govern transportation in this State. Neither is the rule of evidence controlled
by the powers of the Commission, the jurisdictional question nor thle
penalties prescribed. It may be correctly said therefore that neither of these
general divisions of the law depends on the maintenance of the other; and
that either or all of the three latter may be abolished, and yet the purpose
and object intended by the investment of the powers in the Railway Commission
will not be disturl)ed. In the first place, "dae process of law has been
fully prescribed for the railway companies before the powers of the Commission
can be exercised in establishing a rate affecting their rights." In the
second place they are granted "equal protection of the laws." in that, if they
complain of the rates for being too low, or if any party shlall complain of them
for being too high, there is a common court and procedure, as well as rules of
evidence, prescribed for the settlement of the controversy. Certainly the
Commission might adopt rates that would discriminate against some city, private
corporation or citizen. or he so high as to amount to confiscation of their
property. This might not cause the railways to complain. They possibly
would prefer to enforce such rates, and indeed they would have to do so
under the Commission law. To get relief from this oppression, an interested
citizen or corporation could only sue the Commission directly in the proper
court at Austin. Likewise, if a rate or tlhe action of the Commission should
be oppressive of the interests of a railway, then it must go into the same court
and have that question settled by action against the Commission. A common
ground and equal pr tection therefore are guaranteed by the law to all complaining
parties. With the law otherwise, so that a multiplicity of actions
could be brought as varied and distant as the courts are from the capital, it
would be practically a destruction of the Commission. The efficacy of this
law may be more clearly understood from the official statement that up to the
time of the extraordinary action of a federal judge, no suit to recover a pen
alty against a railway company had been filed in any court during the Commission
period of eleven months; nor had there been during that time an action
brought by a railway company or otlher person against the Commission complaining
of its action in prescribliig rules or traffic rates to govern transporta
tion. It remained for foreign bondholders; many of whose securities were
issued in violation of the constitution, to enter a federal court and disturb the
harmony and peaceful relations existing under this just law between the
people and their common carriers. In that court they prayed for an injunction
against the Commission, the Attorney General and railway companies as
defendants, asking the Commission rates to be restrained and held void upon
the ground that the law is unconstitutional, and for the further alleged rea
son that the said rates are unreasonable in that they are too low to raise revenue
sufficient with which to pay the expenses of operation and interest on
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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. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5861/m1/14/: accessed March 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; .