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STATES IN WHICH COMMISSIONS WERE APPOINTED AND IN WHICH COMPENSATION LAWS WERE ENACTED AND AMENDED, BY YEARS, 1908 TO 1913.
The following table summarizes the above data so as to show the action taken during each of the 6 years since the enactment of the first workmen's compensation law.
NUMBER OF WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION COMMISSIONS AND LAWS, BY YEARS,
1908 TO 1913.
From the above list it is to be seen that the majority of the earlier laws were amended in 1913. Two of the laws have been declared unconstitutional by the court of last resort of the States in which they were enacted, while on the other hand the constitutionality of the statute of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Washington, and Wisconsin has been upheld by the highest court in each State. The first law declared unconstitutional was the compulsory statute of New York applicable only to railway service, leaving on the statute books the elective law relating to other employments. The other law that was held invalid was that of Montana. The decisions in these and other cases will be considered later.
REPORTS OF COMMISSIONS.
Beginning with 1909, commissions or committees have boon appointed in 20 States and in Porto Rico as the result of legislative action, and in 6 States commissions were appointed by the governors without legislative action; a Federal commission was also created. Reports are not yet due from the commissions of Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Porto Rico, Tennessee, Vermont, and the third commission of Missouri, while those of Delaware and Texas seem to have made no report.
The reports of the commissions will be considered in order.
The members of this commission wore designated in the act of Juno. 1, 1911, creating it, a representative of the bar, one of labor, one of the employers of labor, and one of each house of the legislature being named. An appropriation of $1,000 was made, but was placed in a class of appropriations that did not become available within the time fixed for the commission to report. The principal work that could be done under the circumstances was the collection of existing literature on the subject.
There was no attempt made to draft a law, and the examination made of the statutes of other States showed such wide divergence that no conclusion was reached as to the typo to be recommended. The commission was impressed with the importance of uniformity of legislation on the subject, but felt that none of the existing State laws were adapted to the industrial conditions of Colorado. It was agreed that a compensation law should be enacted, that it should be applicable to all productive employments, and that there should be some plan by which compensation payments would be guaranteed. It was recommended that more study and investigation be given to the subject before any bill was drafted, reference being made to the fact that all laws of this type are of recent enactment in this country, and that it took 16 years to unify the laws of Germany on the subject.
A summary of State laws, mention of the commissions appointed to investigate employers' liability, and a list of printed matter collected complete this pamphlet1 of 48 pages. No law has yet been enacted.
A joint resolution of August 22, 1911, authorized the governor of the State to appoint a commission of three persons to servo without compensation, but with power to employ necessary clerical assistance and to incur proper expenses. Public meetings were held at various points in the State, some of which were largely attended. Nineteen
i Report of Employees' Compensation Commission, 1913.
pages of the report1 are occupied with general and constitutional considerations, the remaining 22 pages being given to the reproduction of a tentative draft of a law. The type proposed was compulsory compensation, administered by the courts, surgical examiners to be appointed in each county, and a commissioner for each of four districts into which the State was to be divided. A law was enacted in 1913, but it differs widely from the bill recommended by the commission.
The report of the Illinois commission 2 is an octavo volume of 249 pages, presenting a brief record of the work of the commission; a draft of a bill; a discussion of the constitutionality of a compensation law; records of cases heard before certain courts of the State; the record of the coroner of Cook County, in which the city of Chicago is situated; special studies of the coal-mining industry, railroads, manufactories, etc., from the standpoint of hazard, and showing accident records and compensation for injuries; and other valuable statistical and economic data. The discussion as to constitutionality was made by the commission's attorney, who expressed the conviction that within a decade compulsory compensation will be generally accepted as being within the police power of the State to provide for. He recommended, however, as a concession to the present state of information and public opinion that an alternative proposition be enacted, embodying compensation as optional but not required, though so limiting rights and defenses as to lead both parties to an acceptance of the compensation provisions. "That the law should read into every contract of hiring a limited guaranty by the master to his servant against injury to life or limb while the servant is going about his master's business, when it appears that the larger proportion of such injuries in almost all employments are entirely incidental to the business, does not seem any more unreasonable than that the law should conclusively presume that the servant, upon entering the employment, voluntarily assumes in advance all the necessary and inherent hazards of the trade."
The study of the coal-mining industry—one of the largest industries of the State—leads the commission to the conclusion that the adoption of the scheme of compensation proposed, giving $2,250 for fatal accidents as against the present average award of $168, would effect a charge of but 1.6 cents per ton of coal mined to meet the necessary expenditures. As to the direction of this expenditure it is said: "Should this prompt the exercise of extra care, as the commission confidently anticipates, only a portion of this increase would be
1 Report of the Connecticut State Commission on Compensation (or Industrial Accidents, 1912. 1 Report of the Employers' Liability Commission of the State of Illinois, 1910.
utilized for the purpose of compensation, the remainder going into the plant in additional safeguards and conveniences."
In the other industries investigated and in the report from the Illinois Manufacturers' Association details of accidents showing the nature of the injury and the form and amount of damages or compensation on account of it are shown; also a comparison of the present actual cost and the estimated cost under the commission's plan.
The bill proposed became law, though restricted to especially dangerous employments, but was amended in 1913 so as to cover all industries. The rates of compensation were also increased over those proposed by the commission.
A commission, to consist of two employers, two employees, and one disinterested person, was authorized by an act of the Legislature of Iowa at its session of 1911. A report was ordered to be in the hands of the members of the legislature not later than November 15,1912. This report1 forms a volume of above 400 pages, in which is discussed briefly the classes of laws in force in Europe and in the various States having compensation or insurance laws. The liability law of Iowa is next considered, and a proposed bill is briefly discussed. The bill was of the elective type, to be administered by a State commission, and with provisions for an employers' indemnity association to form a reserve fund to secure compensation payments, all employers under the act to be members. A minority report urged a compulsory plan but without the State insurance feature. The system embodied in the law enacted is elective, with a requirement that payments shall be guaranteed by some form of insurance unless the industrial commission is satisfied as to the employer's solvency.
Appendixes form a considerable portion of the volume. Among these are an estimate of insurance rates in Iowa, accident statistics, and various papers and excerpts on subjects connected with questions of constitutionality, a synopsis of American laws, etc. The second and larger part of the volume is made up of minutes of the hearings and of papers submitted in connection therewith.
This commission was appointed in June, 1910, and first submitted only a partial report, recommending that another year be given to investigation before submitting any bill, an earlier tentative draft not being included in the report. A pamphlet1 of 23 pages sketched briefly the forms of compensation in use in Great Britain, German}',
i Report ot the Employers' Liability Commission, 1912.
> Report of the Commission on Compensation for Industrial Accidents, 1911.
and Norway as typical of the three systems in use in countries having compensation systems. Tables were given showing the period of disability in 2,849 accidents reported to the commission from September 12 to November 20, 1910; also the cost of industrial accidents in 734 establishments during 1909.
In accordance with its recommendations, the commission was continued in existence until July 1, 1912. A compensation law having been enacted in 1911, the duties of the commission were to compile accident data, and make recommendations as to further legislation, the expenditures not to exceed $13,000. Under this new authorization a report1 of 322 pages was made to the legislature, setting forth the work of the commission in various directions, both before and after the enactment of the State law; the text of the State law, with commentary; a brief description of foreign laws and of the laws of the United States; a consideration of the constitutionality of a compulsory law for Massachusetts; statistics of accidents in Massachusetts, May 1, 1911, to April 30, 1912, and an appendix in which are reproduced the laws of the States providing for compensation, with some other matter.
The question of the constitutionality of a compulsory law for Massachusetts is considered at some length, the conclusion being reached that the courts of that State would probably uphold such a law. The action of the New York court of appeals in declaring invalid the compulsory law of that State, and the effect of this decision on subsequent legislation in the various States is noted, and strong exceptions are taken both as to the ruling in this case and the attitude of the court of that State generally in the matter of testing the constitutionality of the acts of the legislature.
An act of May 1, 1911, created a commission of five members without salary, but to be reimbursed for actual expenses. A report to the next legislature was directed, or to any earlier extra session. An extra session was in fact held, at which a law was enacted and approved March 20, 1912, following in the main the recommendations of the commission.
The report2 is a pamphlet of 152 pages, in which are discussed in brief the rules and defenses applicable in employers' liability actions. Data as to accidents and damages are presented, and the results of the old system of liability, under which it was concluded that it was impossible to secure justice to either employer or employee. The proposed bill is next analyzed and presented, and appendixes con
1 Report of the Commission on Compensation for Industrial Accidents, 1912.
> Report of the Employers' Liability and Workmen's Compensation Commission, 1911.