connected with our public-service corporations; that the development of public utilities has not been of immense value to the community; nor that they have not often been conducted with the highest motives of philanthropic enterprise. But it is an assertion that the theory underlying the treatment of the franchise was wrong and the system built upon it was bad; and that the time has now come to open our eyes and look facts squarely in the face. When we do so, we find that the right of the legislature of state or city to give away a franchise in perpetuity cannot be successfully defended.

A few words in closing as to the practical operation of the law in New York. The Commissions have been in existence only nine months-and that is a short time for a revolution to be consummated; but already experience has shown the immense value of the law. Merchants and manufacturers have a powerful tribunal before which they can plead for justice and efficiency; any individual with a well-grounded complaint against a corporation can have it brought to its attention by the Commission far more forcibly than he himself can bring it; the issues of stocks and bonds by these corporations are for the first time subjected to rigid scrutiny, and it is safe to say that very little water will leak into such securities in the future-in every way the rights and interests of the public are being safeguarded as never before, and the public is becoming aware of the fact. For the first time in their history these great corporations realize fully that there is a higher power above them—a power to which the public can now appeal; they have been shorn of their ability to dispense life or death to businesses, to tyrannize over individuals, or to ignore the interests of the public-for above them is the state, demanding justice and fair treatment for every one of its citizens and enabled to enforce its demands.

It is only fair to add that on their part the corporations have shown both good sense and good temper in accepting the law graciously, and doing all in their power thus far in carrying out its provisions and the orders and requests of the Commission. Many a complaint never reaches the Commission;

the complaint is remedied by the corporation as soon as it is made known. In truth, the wiser among the corporation managers see plainly that the law will be their best defense against dangerous legislation; that the Commission will stand as a barrier against injustice to the corporations on the one hand, while it affords relief to the public against injustice on the other.

It will lead to a safer and better condition of things all around-the public will see that its rights are safeguarded, and demagogic appeals will lose their force and effectiveness; the corporations will be protected against destructive competition and blackmail, and assured of a fair return on honest investment; hence should result a return of public confidence in the securities of the corporations-which ought in turn to be as good and conservative investments as any municipal bonds. There will be two classes of people, but I think only two who will suffer from the law-those among the capitalists and promoters who are too greedy to be content with their fair share, who wish to reap where they have not sown; and the demagogues and agitators who will feel themselves cheated out of their best weapons of attack. But if both these classes could be put permanently out of business the world would be duly grateful.

ADDITIONAL READINGS 1-The State Governor, Bryce, J., American Commonwealth, I, 531-4.

2-Appointment and Removal, Finley and Sanderson, The American Executive, 93–104.

3-State Administration in New York, Fairlie, J. A., Political Science Quarterly, XV, 50–74.

4-Public Service Commissions, Hatton, W. H., Osborne, T.

M., and Hudnall, G. B., Proceedings of the American
Political Science Association, IV, 287-323.

5 The Executive Power, Its Unity or Division, Finley and Sanderson, The American Executive, 29-47.

6-The Veto and Approval of Bills, Ibid., 72-82.

7-Townships in the Central States, Fairlie, J. A., Local Government, 164–85.

8-The County, Ibid., 57-74.




The present tendency in State government is to limit the power of the legislature by placing restrictions upon its scope of authority in the State constitution and by enlarging the legislative and administrative powers of the governor. This has been due in no small degree to the exceedingly poor quality of the legislative product. In fact it is hardly too much to say, however unfortunate the circumstance may be, that the people have come to distrust their legislatures. In the following extract Professor Paul Reinsch points out some of the salient defects of State legislation:

The excessive number of legislative enactments annually produced in the United States has been the subject of much severe comment; yet, when the organization of legislative bodies is considered, this over-activity seems but natural. All surrounding conditions are favorable to it; democracies are impatient of delays and eager for action; they desire to see things accomplished; moreover, they have not lost the early optimism with respect to the efficacy of legislative remedies. The individual legislator feels that his services will not be duly appreciated should he confine his activities solely to a careful weighing of proposed legislation and a critical attitude toward the projects of his associates. Some positive action will be demanded of him; even if he does not put his name to some piece of general legislation, there will be a large number of local interests in his constituency which must be looked after. As a result of these conditions, the amount of legislation produced in the United States in the alternate

years, when the larger number of legislatures meet, is astounding in itself, and, when compared with the legislation of other civilized states, it indicates a crudeness of the legislative function, a lack of careful consideration, which are alarming. The number of legislative enactments passed in the states in a single year has exceeded fourteen thousand, covering in printed form some twenty to twenty-five thousand pages. During the five years from 1899 to 1904 the total number of acts passed by American legislatures was 45,552. The political and social service which in our own system required this flood of enactment was in the principal European states performed by a few hundred statutes. Of these 45,552 enactments, 16,320 were public or general laws, while the remainder were special and local.

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It is the prominence and the great amount of private and local legislation which constitutes the chief blemish of the American system. As we have already seen, the attempt has been made to cut down the amount of private legislation by specific and general constitutional prohibitions; and while some relief has resulted from this method, it has on the other hand led to the frequent use of shifty practices by which local legislation is given the form of general law, and thus, in addition to its inherent harmfulness, has assisted in unsettling the stability of the legal system. The volume of legislation varies in direct proportion to the amount of special and local legislation passed. Thus in 1903, the state where legislation was most prolific was North Carolina, whose constitution contains practically no restrictions on local or private legislation, and whose governor possesses no veto power. The states in which measures prohibitory or restrictive of legislation have been taken, have as a result perceptibly lessened their legislative overflow. Alabama's radical move in increasing the interval between regular sessions of the legislature to four years, was brought about by a very cloudburst of local legislation. The sessions of 1891 and 1901, passed approximately one law of general character to every eleven of private, local, or special application. In the latter session, out of a total of 1,132

measures poured out from the legislative mill, only about 90 were general in nature.

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In commonwealths, as in the national Congress, the worst phase of the localizing legislation appears not in the flood of local and special bills, but in the defeating, embarrassing, and mutilating of general laws in order to please a special interest. In the first place, the very volume of local measures with their peculiar importance to the individual legislator, subordinates vital interests to these special petty arrangements. As a result of this condition, the measures of most far-reaching importance are crowded to one side, and receive passage perhaps, but not wise and concentrated attention. In its extreme, the localizing tendency leads to a system of group representation. The liberum veto of senatorial unanimous consent finds a not distant analogy in the state legislator's frequent ability to defeat a measure objected to by the interests of his locality. The organs of local government themselves are the greatest sufferers from the excess of special legislation. The function of county or municipal home-rule is in some cases atrophied, and in every instance mutilated, by the constant interference of the state authority. Measures that favor one locality usually do so at the expense of sister communities. A factor which increases the likelihood of favorable action upon proposals for local legislation is the quite usual practice of referring such bills to the delegation from the locality whose interests are directly affected by the measure in question. Matters like these are very rarely made subjects of party action, and by mutual arrangement meet with little or no opposition.

The total prohibition of private and local legislation would not be feasible. The power to make such enactments must be lodged somewhere; and if extreme prohibition should be replaced upon the legislature, the circumvention of the constitutional law would only be increased. Other methods of dealing with this problem are therefore at present favored by the men most conversant with the situation. The New Jersey constitution of 1876 provided that the legislature "shall not pass any act regulating the internal affairs of towns and coun

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