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STATEMENT OF CHESTER THOMPSON, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN
WATERWAYS OPERATORS, INC.
Mr. THOMPSON. My name is Chester C. Thompson. I am president of the American Waterways Operators, 1319 F Street, Washington.
Mr. Chairman, my purpose in testifying here today is pretty much to support the position taken by Mr. Krebs.
Senator REED. You had better find a new ground.
It is true that the definition in the bill that is before the House, H. R. 5623, differed, under the rail and water and motor carriers sections, and I did suggest, as Dr. Splawn stated, that that definition of "association" should be uniform.
But, of course, that accomplishment of uniformity did not remove the objection of the American Waterways Operators to sections 16, 17, and 18 of this bill, requiring water carriers associations to make reports to the Interstate Commerce Commission.
I feel that our association has no information whatever which would be helpful to the Commission in the discharge of its responsibilities and functions. American Waterways Operators is strictly a trade association, which does not concern itself with the publication of rates or the fixing of rates, or any rate conferences.
A comparatively small number of our members conduct a transportation service that is subject to the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission. We have both carriers, a sizable number of oil and coal companies, who are exempt under the bulk-carriers exemption contained in the so-called Wheeler-Lea Act, or the Transportation Act of 1940.
And I do not believe it would be equitable to require a trade association such as the American Waterways Operators to file reports concerning all of its activities.
Senator REED. Where do you find that requirement, Mr. Thompson!
Mr. THOMPSON. Authority in the bill, of course, is to authorize the Commission to require it.
Senator REED. That is right.
Mr. THOMPSON. But all of the members of our association are not subject to the Commission; and I don't think the burden should be any greater on the association than it is proportionately on the individual members of the association.
Senator REED. Well, I think, Mr. Thompson, my answer to you, as far as I am concerned, and I do not have much influence in these matters, would be the same as to Mr. Krebs.
I do not know any reason why an Association of American Waterways Operation should not be required to make such reports as the Interstate Commerce Commission may deem advisable and necessary.
That does not mean that you have to make every kind of a report to them. It does mean that the Commission may require you to make reports if the Commission finds it desirable and necessary.
I do not see any objection to that. I do not think there ought to be any from your association, nor from Mr. Krebs' association.
I hope the Commission will not make it burdensome on you.
Senator REED. I think that conludes this phase of the hearing. We have heard everybody now.
If anybody else has anything to offer, we will be glad to hear him. If not, we will close this record. (Thereupon, at 4:05 p. m., the hearing was concluded.)
TEXAS ELECTRIC RAILWAY CO.,
Dallas 1, Tex., June 23, 1947. Hon. Tom CONNALLY,
c/o Senate Chamber, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR : I understand that S. 290 has been introduced in the Senate by Senator White (by request) and referred to the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce.
There are two things contained in this bill in which we are interested as they affect, or might affect, our interurban railway, being the exemption language as contained in section 2 and section 14 of the bill, seeking to amend paragraph 22 of section 1 and paragraph 1 of section 20a of the Interstate Commerce Act.
The exemption language in the present law (par. (22) of sec. 1 of the act) (as regards sec. 2 of the bill) reads as follows:
“(22) The authority of the Commission conferred by paragraphs (18 to (21), both inclusive, shall not extend to the construction or abandonment of spur, industrial, team, switching or side tracks, located or to be located wholly within one State, or of street, suburban, or interurban electric railways, which are not operated as a part or parts of a general steam railroad system of transportation.” while the bill proposes to change same so as to read as follows:
“(22) The authority of the Commission conferred by paragraphs (18) to (21), both inclusive, shall not extend to the extension, construction, acquisition, operation, or abandonment of spur, industrial, team, switching, or side tracks located or to be located wholly within one State, or to the extension, construction, acquision, operation, or abandonment of street, suburban, or interurban electric railways, except those which are operated as a part or parts of a general steam railroad system of transportation or are engaged in the general transportation of freight or interchange standards steam railroad freight equipment with steam railroads for transportation in interstate.or foreign commerce to or from points on their lines: Provided, That such paragraphs (18) to (21), both inclusive, shall apply to the extension, construction, acquisition, operation, or abandonment of a street, suburban, or interurban electric railway, or any portion thereof, by a standard steam railroad."
The italic in both instances is mine.
The exemption language in the present law (par. 1 of sec. 20a of the act) (as regards sec. 14 of the bill) reads as follows:
“Sec. 20a. That is used in this section the term 'carrier' means a common carrier by railroad (except a street, suburban, or interurban electric railway which is not operated as a part of a general steam railroad system of transportation) which is subject to this part, or any corporation organized for the purpose of engaging in transportation by railroad subject to this part.” While the bill proposes to change same so as to read as follows:
“(1) That as used in this section the term 'carrier' means a common carrier by railroad (except a street, suburban, or interurban electric railway not operated as parts of general steam rai'road systems of transportation, or which are not engaged in the general transportation of freight and do not interchange standard steam railroad freight equipment with steam railroads for transportation in interstate or foreign commerce to or from points on their lines) and to sleeping-car companies, which are subject to this part, or any corporation organized for the purpose of engaging in transportation by railroad or in the sleep ing-car business subject to this part."
The italic in both instances is mine.
I understand that this bill was introduced at the request of the Interstate Commerce Commission and is similar, so far as the exemptions pointed out above, to bills introduced at the Commission's request in the last Congress, as well as in previous sessions of the Congress, but not enacted. The exemption provisions quoted above have been in the Interstate Commerce Act for quite a number of years and are now fairly well established by interpretations and court decisions, and it seems to me change them now would bring about unnecessary confusion and possibly litigation to determine the status of interurban railways thereunder. Also it might cast doubt upon similar exclusion language in other laws.
I understand that the bill has not been reported out by the committee, or set for hearing. While the features outlined by me above have regularly been presented by the Commission to the Congress without securing favorable action thereon, yet there may be other features in the bill in which we are not interested and may have such merit that the bill as a whole will be given consideration, In such event it is my earnest wish that the bill be amended cutting out the exemption provisions therein and leaving the exemption provisions as now exist in the Interstate Commerce Act, and I will appreciate very much your assistance to this end. If a hearing is held on this bill, on account of the difficulties of travel, etc., quite likely I will not be able to appear and explain our position, and if you agree with me in what I have said, and it is proper to do so, I would be glad if you could have this letter made a part of the record. With kindest regards and best wishes, I am, Sincerely yours,
Jas. P. GRIFFIN.
WISCONSIN ELECTRIC POWER Co.,
Milwaukee 1, Wis., June 27, 1947. Hon. ALEXANDER WILEY,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR WILEY: We desire to call your attention to bill S. 290 and a companion bill, H. R. 2297, which were introduced at the request of the Interstate Commerce Commission. If these bills are enacted, the Interstate Com. merce Commission would have jurisdiction of extension, construction, acqui. sition, and abandonment and the issuance of securities of all street or interurban railway lines furnishing intrastate passenger service which may incidentally afford switching facilities for the movement of standard freight cars. This company's business consists principally in the furnishing of mass transportation in Milwaukee and suburbs and only to a very minor extent is it engaged in the switching of standard freight cars to and from connections with steam railroads.
The amendment proposed to the act by these bills would add an additional burden to companies like ours and would produce no economic benefit or serve any public interest. If the exemptions provided in the Interstate Commerce Act were changed by the amendment proposed by these bills, it would bring about unnecessary confusion and possibly litigation to determine the status of intrastate electric railway systems such as ours, which only to a minor extent switches carload freight.
If and when these bills come up for hearing before congressional committees, we would like to have you have our letter opposing the enactment of these bills made a part of the record of any such hearings. Very truly yours,
ARTHUR M. SELLS, Vice President.
THE MILWAUKEE ELECTRIC RAILWAY & TRANSPORT Co.,
Milwaukee, Wis., March 31, 1948. Hon. John W. BYRNES, M. C.,
House Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR CONGRESSMAN: Thank you for your letter of March 29 calling to my attention hearing before Senate Subcommittee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce on April 1, 10:30 a. m., on bills S. 290 and H. R. 2297.
I understand that recently Chairman Wolverton of House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee introduced two new bills, H. R. 5474 and H. R. 5623.
I am informed that H. R. 5623 supersedes all prior bills, and it removes the objectionable parts so far as we are concerned.
It is suggested that S. 290 be amended as follows: On page 3, section 4, line 22, insert period after word "transportation" and strike out remainder of line 22 and lines 23, 24, and 25. On page 4, strike out that part of line 1 preceding the words “Provided further".
As you know, the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co. operates streetcars, trackless trolleys, and buses in the Milwaukee metropolitan area and is engaged primarily in mass transportation of persons. It also has an interconnection with steam roads for the purpose of switching and hauling coal from steam lines to the power plants of its parent, Wisconsin Electric Power Co. In 1947 total revenues of the transport company were $16,661,660.17 and the freight and switching revenue was only $494,246.62, or 2.97 percent of the total. There is no valid reason for making urban operation, such as that of the transport company, subject to provisions of the Interstate Commerce Act, because of the small amount of coal hauling involved.
I will appreciate your presenting this communication to the subcommittee of the Senate Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. Very truly yours,
ARTHUR M. SELLS, Attorney.