« PreviousContinue »
An effort was made to have the new medical examiners (Pension Bureau) exempted from examination. Finally it was agreed that examinations should be held, under regulations prescribed by the President. If this action is satisfactory to the Civil Service "Reformers," they must be persons easy to please.
Apropos of evasions of the method of examinations for the Civil Service, a bill has been introduced to exempt veterans from this test of fitness.
The bill giving them the preference in appointments has been passed.
The difficulty which arose last summer about placing soldiers who had received a dishonorable discharge on the pension roll, has culminated in the redaction of a bill to permit the Secretary of War to review the findings of the courts-martial on demand by the interested parties.
Mr. Cannon has introduced a Service Pension Bill, which provides that all persons who served in the War shall be entitled to receive a pension of $8 a month, and in addition a per diem pension of one cent for every day's service; widows to be entitled to a pension of $12 a month.
The House Committee on the Judiciary has finished its consideration of the Torrey Bankruptcy bill, introduced by Mr. Taylor of Ohio, and ordered it to be reported favorably.
Mr. Funston, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, reported to the House, with amendments, the Butterworth bill to define Options and Futures, and to impose a special tax on dealers therein. The object of the bill seems to be to render less profitable the business of dealing in futures in wheat, corn, oats, cotton, pork, etc., by imposing upon dealers a tax of $1,000, and five cents per pound and twenty cents per bushel, upon the articles dealt in.
A bill has been reported by Mr. Marsh, from the Committee on War Claims, appropriating three and a half million of dollars for the payment of damages sustained by citizens of Pennsylvania, during the late war, from Union and Confederate troops. The report accompanying the bill cites former cases where governments
have made good the losses sustained by citizens in time of war, and regards them as precedents in favor of the legislation asked. The minority report contends that the payment of the claims would be unconstitutional, and that Congress has hitherto adopted and followed laws and policies adverse to such legislation.
The House Committee on Coinage, etc., authorizes a favorable report on a bill for Recoinage of subsidiary coins of the United States. By the bill the Secretary of the Treasury is to have the right to re-coin the subsidiary coins which may have become worn or mutilated, into such denominations as are currently demanded. The bill also provides that the silver profit fund is to stand the loss incident to the re-coinage, and that silver coins of less than one dollar shall hereafter be legal tender for sums not exceeding $20, and that when held by any National Bank they may be counted as a part of its lawful reserve.
The House Committee on Appropriations has approved the Legislative Appropriation bill. The amount appropriated is $20,864,326, which is $10,600 more than the last bill, and $762,924 less than the estimates. A number of changes in the Government service, caused mainly by the admission of the new States, is provided for.
The House Committee on Railways and Canals has ordered a favorable report on Mr. Payne's bill providing for the construction, by the United States, of a Ship Canal around Niagara Falls. The canal is to cost $23,600,000, and is to have a depth of twenty and one-half feet, to extend for a distance of 23 miles, with locks 400 feet long by 80 feet wide. The canal is claimed on the ground that the Welland Canal, which is now the only route around the Falls, is an English property, and would be closed against us in case of war.
The Special Committee on the election of President and Congressmen, by a party vote of 7 to 5, decided to report favorably on the bill of Mr. McComas in regard to the Districting of States. The bill provides that the Representatives to the Fifty-second Congress shall be elected from districts having the same boundaries as those from which the Representatives in the Fifty-first Congress were elected. The minority of the Committee will submit a report in opposition to the bill.
Another of the Contested Elections came up in the House, and was settled, after some discussion, by the seating of Mr. Waddill, Republican, from Virginia, in place of Mr. Wise, Democrat, by a vote of 134 to 120; a substitute resolution declaring the seat vacant having been defeated, 119 to 133.
On the 15th the House thought better of its previous action in committee of the whole, and voted to reject the amendment which struck from the Naval Appropriation bill the provision for the construction of three battle ships. The bill, as adopted, provides for the construction of three sea-going, coast-line battle ships of about 8500 tons each, to cost, with armaments, $15,000,000, and for one armored cruiser to cost $2,750,000. In keeping with these appropriations is a bill introduced by Mr. Burroughs to reorganize the personnel of the navy, which provides that the naval force shall consist of one admiral and vice-admiral, 10 rearadmirals, 15 commodores, 45 captains, 90 commanders, 125 lieut.-commanders, 300 lieutenants, 100 junior lieutenants, etc.
The House Committee on Post-offices has decided to report favorably to the House the bill to provide for the erection of Post-Office Buildings. As amended, the bill provides for the erection of new post-office buildings to cost not more than $25,000, without application to Congress for an appropriation. The bill calls for an appropriation of $10,000,000 for the year 1890-91, to be expended at the discretion of the Postmaster-General for the purpose set forth.
An attempt was made to carry through, under suspension of the rules, as a substitute for the Dependent Pension bill, introduced by Mr. Morrill, of Kansas. Mr. Morrill's bill grants pensions to veterans over sixty-two years of age, to soldiers' widows, and to soldiers suffering from disabilities. The committee reports that the passage of the bill would involve an expense of nearly $40,000,000 for 1891, and that there would be an additional expenditure of from $3,000,000 to $5,000,000 during a number of years to come. The attempt was unsuccessful, the vote standing 169 to 87, thus lacking 5 votes of the necessary two-thirds.
The Committee has decided to report favorably on Mr. Frye's bill-from the Senate-reducing the interest on the bonds of Pacific Railroads held by the United States, from 3 to 14 per cent, and giving the Government the right to sell the bonds without guarantee.
Mr. Cannon, from the Committee on Rules, reported a resolution for the immediate consideration of the bill to define and regulate the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States; which resolution was adopted, and after some discussion the bill was passed. It calls for the appointment of seventeen additional circuit judges, and a motion by Mr. Mills that these appointments should be made from each political party equally, was rejected. By the provisions of the bill, all original jurisdiction now vested in the circuit courts, is to be vested in the district courts exclusively, the circuit courts to become Courts of Appeal, each one to consist of the present circuit judge and two others. Three judges are required to constitute a quorum in each appellate court thus formed, and in case of absence of any judge, the senior circuit judge may require any district judge of that circuit to sit in the stead of the absentee. In a general way, the object of the bill is to relieve the Supreme Court by making the new appellate courts final tribunals, excepting in cases of importance and in cases of certain specified classes.
[An objection to the bill is that which the amendment of Mr. Mills would have removed; that is to say, that it permits the perpetuation of the existing scandal of having the Federal bench occupied exclusively by judges of the same political party. No question is made as to the character or conduct of these appointees. The dignity of the judicial office, which cannot be too jealously guarded, must needs suffer in the public mind if that office is allowed even to seem to be bestowed as a matter of political favor or reward.]
The principal changes in the existing Revenue laws which will be effected by the bill now before the House-if it is passed-are:
Increase of import duties on wool and manufactures of wool.
Increase on all kinds of agricultural products, especially tobacco, flax, hemp, etc. Increase on cutlery.
Increase on tin-plate.
Decrease on bar-iron, railway iron, beams, wire, etc.
Decrease on refined sugar.
Added to the "Free List": Books printed in foreign languages; paintings in oil and watercolors, and sculptures; sugar up to No. 16 Standard.
The "Internal" revenue is changed by removing all taxes on tobacco.
Embodied in the same bill with these details, are two clauses giving bounties to producers of sugar and silk.
In most, if not in all, cases of change in the rates of import duties, the amount of the duties depends so largely on the complex system of classification, that it is difficult to determine whether the general tendency of the alterations is to reduce or to increase the revenue derived from these taxes. Many of the additions to the rates have been made by striking out special clauses of the existing law, thus throwing the articles enumerated in them into a more general class, where they will come under the operation of a higher rate.
STATE LEGISLATURES. Massachusetts.-The House Judiciary Committee reported unanimously against amending the law of libel as relating to newspapers.
A resolution to abolish the poll-tax as a qualification for suffrage, was reported by the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, two members dissenting.
The House accepted the report against giving State aid to the New England Conservatory of Music.
In the bill to fix the penalty for breaking and entering, the minimum penalty was put at five years, and the bill advanced to a third reading.
The Committee on Cities reported a bill authorizing Boston to borrow $550,000 beyond the authorized debt limit for the erection and furnishing of schoolhouses.
The Senate Judiciary Committee reported adversely to the limitation of the height of city buildings.
The resolution introduced in the Senate requesting the Massachusetts delegation in Congress to favor the repeal of the duties on raw wool, was lost; but one Republican Senator voted for it. Substitute resolutions for the removal of duties upon coal, coke, and iron ore, and the reduction of those upon pig-iron, scrapiron, and scrap-steel, were lost also. Both sets of resolutions were offered as substitutes for an adverse report from the Committee on Federal Relations.
Ohio.-The Registration Law for all cities save Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton, Sandusky, and Youngstown, has been repealed. This dispenses with registration in the smaller cities.
New York.-Mr. Erwin's bill, reducing the legal rate of interest to five per cent, met with defeat in the Senate last week, the vote being twenty to nine.
Assemblyman Greene's bill, incorporating a company to build a gigantic railway bridge across the Hudson River from New York City to the shores of New Jersey, has been passed by the Senate. This is one of the most important bills of the session, and the undignified haste with which it was pushed through the Senate without any debate whatever upon its final reading, shows a pre-arranged plan to pass it.
The Aqueduct Claim bill lately passed by the Senate, is in a fair way to pass the House. The bill provides for the establishing of special courts of arbitration to decide upon the claims of the aqueduct contractors of New York against the city, to the amount of $9,000,000.
Senator Saxton again comes to the front with a new Ballot Reform bill. This one meets some of the Governor's objections, as stated in his veto message. The minority representation in the election of ballot-clerks, is met by a provision which materially lessens it. The disfranchisement of the illiterate voter is avoided by a provision which allows him to take a friend into the booth to assist him in preparing his ballot. He must, however, swear that he is unable to read or write the English language, under penalty of punishment for perjury. The remaining objection of the Governor is, that the use of the official ballot would be unconstitutional; if he again takes his stand upon that ground, Senator Saxton announces that he will propose an amendment to the constitution.
The Senate passed a resolution providing for the submission to the people of the Prohibition Amendment to the Constitution. The date of the vote to be taken on this is April 17, 1891, thus separating it as an issue from the next general election.
The Assembly passed the bill repealing the famous Two-Dollar a day law; this last was a machine-made measure, and resulted in a useless expenditure from the State treasury; besides attracting inefficent workmen by a uniform rate of pay. The bill now awaits the approval of the Governor.
The Assembly Excise Committee has refused to report the Hendricks High License Bill by a vote of 5 to 4. The opponents of the bill hope to keep it buried in the committee until the close of the session.
Maryland.-The Ballot Reform bill, lately passed by the Legislature, was signed by the Governor. The peculiarity of the bill seems to be the restriction of its operation to Baltimore and a few counties. In other respects the law resembles, if it does not exactly reproduce, the Australian system.
New Jersey.-The principal points of contention in the discussion of the Ballot Reform bill, have been the compulsory use of the official envelope and the distribution of the ballots before the day of election. With amendments prescribing the former and permitting the latter, the bill passed to the third reading in the Assembly.
The Senate has passed the bill changing the tax on the stocks of National Banks from two per cent on the market value to six tenths of one per cent on the par value. It is evident that a considerable reduction of revenue will be affected if the bill becomes a law; for it may be taken for granted that the average market value of the national bank stocks is much more than one third their par value.
Rhode Island.-The tactics of Speaker Reed were made use of in the House, last week, in a somewhat expanded form. A bill for the adoption of a fifty-dollar license for the sale of beer was before the House, and the Republicans were making use of dilatory proceedings to prevent a vote. Finally some members ran out of the State House for the purpose of leavthe Assembly without a quorum; the Democratic Speaker counted the absent members in the negative, after which the House adjourned amid much confusion.
The United States Circuit Court has lately decided an interesting tariff case adversely to the Government. A duty of 20 per cent has been collected upon dried Italian grasses, which the importers claimed was contrary to the law governing the classification of such articles.
The test worsted case, just decided against the Government, rectifies another mistake in treasury rulings, whereby worsteds were rated as woolens. The opinion of the court is that this classification is indefensible, and that the Government must now pay back upward of a million wrongfully collected in such duties.
One of the judges of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, has stated that the late decision prohibiting the reading of the Bible in schools is intended merely to forbid its special use for a specifically religious purpose; this does not interfere with its use in a historical way.
The Supreme Court of Iowa has recently rendered a decision which overturns all previous ideas of a railway's responsibility. Some time ago special cars, noticeably refrigerator cars, were introduced for the safe carriage of perishable goods. While the railways promised verbally to supply these advantages as far as possible, they yet refused to contract to do so. Some butter sent over a road was not placed in a refrigerator car and reached it destination worthless. The railway company refused to pay for it, but the court has just decided that they must do so. The decision is founded on the assumption that failure to provide the necessary cars is a lack of due diligence.
When the Fitchburg Railroad Company bought up the Troy and Boston Road, it endeavored to make all who held the seven per cent bonds of that road, exchange these for bonds issued by the Fitchburg. As the Troy and Boston bonds bore seven per cent, and had a term of thirty-seven years to run, and as the bonds offered in exchange bore four per cent, with twenty years to run, the bondholders naturally refused. Upon an attempt on the part of the Fitchburg to coerce them by a foreclosure, the case went to court. The Court of Appeals has decided that the Fitchburg Railroad Company must pay the seven per cent on the long-time bonds.
The Interstate Commerce Commission decided in the case of the Rock Island Railroad Company, that a road running through trains over another company's line, could not be compelled to take local traffic.
The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of the people of the State of New York vs. the Home Insurance Company, is of great importance. It practically overturns the established ruling that a tax on the capital stock of a corporation is a tax on the property and assets. United States bonds held under this ruling would be free from taxes.
But the Court now affirms the late New York decision that it is a tax upon the franchise-to determine the amount of which, the capital stock and dividends must be considered. As the Nation aptly puts it, this decision establishes the principle that New York can tax corporations on their future capital stock, without regard to the situation of the property, at home or abroad, and regardless of what kind of property it is, i. e., U. S. bonds or whatever else.
The United States Circuit Court in the case of William Rebman, at Norfolk, Va., who was held for violating the State dressed beef law, has decided against the State. The State requires that all beef killed more than one hundred and twenty miles away from the place where it is offered for sale, be inspected. Rebman was found guilty and fined, but released upon this decision, which declares the law unconstitutional.
A number of Strikes have been compromised. Thus at Bath, Me., the striking painters at the N. E. Company's shipyards have accepted an advance of twenty-five cents in place of the fifty originally demanded by them. The strikes at Portsmouth, N. H., and at Barre, Vt., have both been compromised. The Lowell, Mass., steam-pipe fitters have compromised on ten hours' pay for nine hours' work. The strike of the workers in the New Britain, Conn., screw factory has been compromised by an advance of five cents a day. Fifteen cents had been demanded.
A strike which was entirely successful, on the other hand, was that of the Building Laborers' Union at Newport, R. I., by which the workmen get an advance of twenty-five cents a day.
The laborers in the several branches of the building trade have been active in strikes in many different parts of the country. In Boston, New York, Chicago, and Indianapolis, the masons, stone-cutters, and carpenters, one or all, have resorted to strikes to enforce their claims. The number of hours which shall constitute the working-day, the wages, and the power of Unions, are the questions which prove too difficult for mere parliamentary tactics. All three of these questions are more or less involved in each of the strikes. Eight hours for the working-day is the most general demand, although nine hours is the limit set by some,-in both cases the day's wages either to continue unchanged or to be still further raised. The question of wages, however, in all these strikes, seems to be more easily settled between the laborers and contractors, than does the question of the interference of the Union with the employment of non-Union laborers. It does not appear that force has been used to hinder the "outside" workmen; but the wellknown inefficiency of the police in protecting men against strikers very probably persuades the former that discretion is the better part of valor. At any rate, none of these strikes has as yet failed on account of the success of con
The latest combination is the School-book Pool, in which no less important firms than the Appletons and Ivison, Blakeman & Co. are interested. The Pool contains many other prominent publishing firms engaged in this line, and Harper & Brothers are said to be interested. The aggregate capital will be somewhere near $5,000,000. It is stated that this united action has been agreed upon to offset and overcome the ruinous competition which renders such business hardly profitable. The Pool claims that the public will be benefited, as no advance in prices is to be made.
The Natural Starch Manufacturing Company is said to have increased its dimensions till it now includes seventeen firms, with a nominal capital of $10,000,000.