The Mann–Elkins Act was a 1910 United States federal law that was among the Progressive era reforms. The Act got its name from congressmen Stephen Benton Elkins and James Robert Mann. Both congressmen sponsored and created legislation about interstate trade which would go on to be signed into law. The Mann–Elkins Act would further expand upon the work by these two men (the Elkins Act and the Mann Act). The act was part of an initiative by President William Howard Taft "to regulate destructive competition and unfair trade practices" in order to make good on promises made during his campaign. It was created because, "Taft believed that the 1887 Interstate Commerce Act should be amended so as to permit railroads to make traffic agreements, which would preserve the principle of competition, and avoid the common control of competing railroad lines." This act was in direct response to railroad price increase that took place in 1910. The Act placed a price ceiling on interstate commerce and transportation companies to ensure fair market value of prices. The Act extended the authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to regulate the telecommunications industry, and designated telephone, telegraph and wireless companies as common carriers.:216 . The act placed all telecommunications under the ICC's control. It was passed by the United States Senate, 50-12.
Supported by Taft, the law also expanded on the powers granted to the ICC in the 1906 Hepburn Act. The ICC was authorized to investigate proposed railroad rate increases and suspend them if warranted. The act empowered the ICC to freeze rate increases without previous issue from shipping companies. The act created a commerce court to increase efficiency and speed of court cases. This speed was achieved through "making all cases immediately appealable to the United States Supreme Court". This disallowed the railroad companies from dragging out long court cases. The Mann–Elkins Act ensured that all rates in regarding to interstate commerce would be "just and reasonable". The "long-and-short haul" clause of the original Interstate Commerce Act (1887) was strengthened to prohibit railroads from charging passengers more for a short trip, compared to a longer ride, over the same route unless specifically approved by the ICC.:217–219 The Act terminated the railroad companies' ability to give free or discounted rates to those who were employees or family of employees.
Post Mann-Elkins Act
The Mann–Elkins Act paved the way for the Communications Act of 1934. The Communications Act of 1934, "incorporated the Acts involving telephone service, the Mann-Elkins Act, with those of radio to create one Act that would encompass all forms of mass communication." Basically it put all of these into one Act in order to consolidate. This led to the creation of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) which “oversees and regulates these industries.”
- United States. Mann-Elkins Act, 61st Congress, 2nd session, ch. 309, 36 Stat. 539, enacted June 18, 1910.
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- U.S. Urgent Deficiency Act, 63rd Congress, 1st session, ch. 32, 38 Stat. 208, October 22, 1913. Effective December 31, 1913.
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