Слике страница
PDF
ePub

Regents is here to take care of the educational interests. We are providing for a commission of three for the civil service. It is the policy of New York to put these important commissions, with the stupendous work that they have to do, into the Constitution.

and

Now, I want to emphasize the fact that the Committee on Public Utilities, of which I am a member, gave the most thorough, far-reaching systematic investigation to this whole subject that could possibly be given in the time allowed. The corporations were thoroughly heard; the people were heard; all interests were heard, and, with one or two comparatively unimportant exceptions, the concensus of opinion was that in some form this important commission should be crystallized in the Constitution of the State. In doing it, every effort was made to give elasticity to the commission thus fixed in the Constitution. Therefore it was provided this has not been given its proper emphasis and position that though we put this commission in the Constitution, yet the Legislature should retain the right to change its jurisdictions, its powers and its duties. Now, someone may say that is giving an authority and then taking it back. But we know that no Legislature would be likely to dry up and nullify by its act such a constitutional commission, but if within twenty years the commission of the first district needed more scope or that of the second district less, or vice versa, this power is given to the Legislature to regulate their powers and to regulate their duties, so that the matter can be taken care of, and yet ripper legislation dealing through political influences, turning out an entire commission or interfering with the proper performance of its duties, could not occur.

Mr. Quigg-You speak of the words "changing its jurisdiction." Would you be good enough to say what you understand the Committee meant by "changing" the jurisdiction? Does it merely mean enlargement or subtraction? What does it mean by "changing the jurisdiction?"

Mr. Reeves It may be found, Mr. Chairman, when the subways are finished in New York, that the jurisdiction in territorial extent of the commission in the first district may want to be enlarged, or we may find that it ought to be decreased as the canals are opened and some other work of large import may come to that city, and it may be the same with regard to the second district.

Mr. Quigg Does the gentleman think that that possibility or any other ought to justify the use of the words" changing its jurisdiction"? That seems to imply that you might make a supreme court out of it or that you might give it the position of taking care of the peanut business for the licensed vendors on the streets. I would like to know what the word "changing" means.

Mr. Reeves It was only put in there for the purpose of changing the jurisdiction of a public service commission. I think that a public service commission starting out with the powers and duties and jurisdiction that it now has, with its history and its conditions to-day, will answer the question that Mr. Quigg has asked.

[ocr errors]

Now the point I wish to emphasize is, recognizing as I have that it may be entirely possible, and I defer to Delegate Wickershamto say "one or two" commissions, but, subject to that, we should not let this opportunity go by to put this commission into the Constitution and leave the Legislature the ability thus to fix the boundaries of the respective jurisdictions, of the one or the two, as it is decided to keep them, and, within the purview of a public service commission, to regulate its powers and its duties.

Then, with regard to the point that Delegate Smith made, the provision on page 2 of this amendment that the Legislature shall not fix rates or charges or standards of service, equipment or operation until it has gotten this report from the commission or until after the time fixed by law has elapsed. Now Mr. Smith's own argument answers itself. What we need is a commission with power, as far as we dare to give it, to fix rates, but the committee recognized the fact that the people were not ready and it was probably not best to undertake to say that the Legislature should have the entire rate-fixing power. So the ultimate determination of the rates and charges and matters which are mentioned was left with the Legislature. Now suppose the Legislature is in session and a matter comes before it where something should be attended to, the people are demanding that it shall do it, and it needs simple and quick action, you can inquire from this commission that has the equipment and the ability to make investigation better than any one else in the State. The Legislature may fix the time for this report in a couple of weeks or a month. It will have to come in while the Legislature is sitting. If, on the other hand, it is something that is going to take years, then the Legislature is going to come back again and act on the report. It does not need a monthly sitting of the Legislature to deal with a matter like that. What the committee felt was that after we had made this commission and put it into the Constitution where it deserves to be, two things ought to be reserved with regard to its action: First, let the Legislature itself have the ultimate control, because, in a case where it has said, for example, "Return this report within a month,' at the expiration of the month the Legislature can do anything it pleases with regard to the matter that it has submitted to the Commission. Let the Legislature be supreme with regard to those matters. And also with regard to its judicial functions, let us

have a court review as broad and full and complete as the Legislature sees fit to make. Now, I submit that there is a plan that is practicable, workable, and that, in view of the history of the public service commissions of this State, it ought to be carried out. In the committee I concurred in this report and I need not add that I am doing my best to sustain it here. One matter, however, appeared to me to be slightly different and I retained the privilege of presenting that to the Committee of the Whole. These commissioners will continue to have not only legislative powers but very important judicial powers. They have got to be men of the widest and fullest and most complete experience and ability in this very important department. What we want is, as nearly as we can approximate it, men who stand as our supreme court judges stand, with a long enough term of office to enable them to get thoroughly familiar with the work they have to do and then devote long years of successful service to the people of the State.

And I submit, as I did to the committee and a number of the committee took the same view, that five years is not long enough. In this proposed amendment the power of removal of these commissioners was intentionally left quite easy and free from impediments. So that if we get a commissioner who is not fit for the place, it won't be very difficult to get rid of him. Therefore, fix his salary smaller, if you wish, but get a man who is willing to give up a lucrative law practice, for example, and bring the great ability that that law practice illustrates, or exemplifies, to the service of the State, and if you are seeking for such a man, he is not willing to give up that practice, to burn his bridges behind him, to take this position for only five years, and know that at the end of that time he may have to leave it, with practice gone, with all employment gone, and simply the honor of having had this position for five years. You will get better men if you make it for ten years. You will have them longer with the experience that they have for the benefit of the State. You will reserve the ability to remove them quite easily. You will have men with large judicial powers assimilated somewhat as do our judges. It will remove them more out of the political atmosphere, and I submit they will be far better, by doubling the term and making it ten

years.

Mr. Quigg-You provide, or this bill provides that the salaries shall not be diminished during each man's respective term.

Mr. Reeves Mr. Quigg, if I may interrupt you a moment. Judge Hale has already withdrawn that provision and the matter of salaries is left with the general provision of the Constitution, and the Legislature will have the ability to fix the salaries.

Mr. Quigg I happened to be absent at that moment.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Reeves Mr. Chairman, I therefore submit the following amendment.

The Secretary By Mr. Reeves: On page 1, line 8, strike out the word "five" and in its place insert the word "ten.”

Mr. Cullinan-Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the Convention. I doubt the wisdom of having this body incorporated in the Constitution of this State and I will endeavor to give my When the subject of rate regulation was in its infancy in this State it took form in the Legislature of this State, in this very room, in a great struggle over what was known as the Hepburn bill, which was a plain pro rata freight bill. It was passed with a large majority and it was supposed that it would be a solution of the evil that then existed. Although at the same time the minority voting upon the Hepburn freight bill made a suggestion and offered a bill for the consideration of the Legislature, that, instead of fixing some rigid rate to meet the cause of the injustice to which I will later refer, we should have a commission with inquisitorial powers and with the duty of recommending to the Legislature of the State what ought to be done to solve the evil claimed to exist.

The Hepburn freight bill remained on the statute books a very short time, because as was obvious, after its early operation, the railroads outside of the State, both in Canada and in the United States, were able to take advantage of the rigid rate in the State of New York, and it was to the prejudice of all of the railroads in the State of New York and not in the interest of the people consequently. Thereafter the Legislature passed, or adopted the act providing for the railroad commission. Now that commission, as I said, was merely of a supervisory order, and to make recommendations to the Legislature of this State as to what should be done. This continued for a number of years, until the work of the Commission, not being entirely satisfactory to the people, it was decided to adopt what was then coming into favor, and now about which there can be no question, the public service commission idea. But notwithstanding there is a general belief throughout this country that they are here and that they have come to stay, we are in a period of transition. The question of transportation is not entirely settled. Now, for instance, if you put this into the Constitution as it is now, what are we going to do with the great question arising in this State with reference to waterborne transportation, in connection with which there may be some evil to cure, and these public utilities commissions under the Constitution may be without power to cure such evil. Those who are interested in our waterborne transportation have appealed to the Legislature lately and within the last two or three years, to make

certain regulations so that this important question in which the State of New York takes such a great and deep interest, the State should not be powerless to accomplish the results that have been at the bottom of the great improvement of the Barge Canal. Now, here is another thought well worth considering. Within the last few years there was adopted by the Legislature of this State a law which was new, and was supported by an element not of itself responsible for matters in connection with railroad transportation of this State. I am not going to discuss the merits or the demerits, and I refer to the full crew bill which has been incorporated in the laws of this State after the labor unions had united in its support. The thought that occurs to me is this: Is that the beginning of some new factor, the movement behind the full crew bill, or is it merely a transitory expression of the labor unions of the State, or of the Legislature in approving of the activities of the labor unions in this respect. Are we going to have a new element injected into the question of railroad transportation in this State? Now, I don't know what the future may have in store.

Mr. Wagner The Legislature this year which I think no one will contend was controlled by labor unions, as they did not show any strong sympathy for them, had the opportunity to repeal that bill, and they did not.

Mr. Cullinan Mr. Chairman, I am not discussing the merits or demerits, but I alluded to it as a fact, and as a fact to which we should give the greatest consideration because it is either the forerunner of something more of that kind or it is the end of that kind of activities. But we should not put the public utilities into the Constitution of the State of New York, with its rigidity, and find ourselves obliged within a few years to meet some of these changes that are coming up both in the transportation relative to waterway transportation, and this is full of outside interest, as an active element in railroad transportation in this State. Now, just another question. Looking at page 2, lines 8, 9 and 10, the amendment reads: "Decisions and orders of the commission shall be subject to review by the courts in such manner and to such extent as the Legislature may provide." It seems to me that that language might be improved, for this reason: The present law governing the Court of Claims provides that notwithstanding all of the evidence may be before the court, the members of the court may visit the locality and examine the lands mentioned in the claim before them for adjudication. Now having examined those lands, and having in addition to the evidence submitted by all of the parties, and having made a finding as to the facts, the Appellate Division of the Fourth District of this State has held sub

« ПретходнаНастави »