Nebraska State Constitution Article IV-20

Nebraska State Constitution » IV-20
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IV-20. Public Service Commission; membership; terms; powers.

There shall be a Public Service Commission, consisting of not less than three nor more than seven members, as the Legislature shall prescribe, whose term of office shall be six years, and whose compensation shall be fixed by the Legislature. Commissioners shall be elected by districts of substantially equal population as the Legislature shall provide. The powers and duties of such commission shall include the regulation of rates, service and general control of common carriers as the Legislature may provide by law. But, in the absence of specific legislation, the commission shall exercise the powers and perform the duties enumerated in this provision.

Source

    Neb. Const. (1906);
    Adopted 1906, Laws 1905, c. 233, sec. 2, p. 791;
    Transferred by Constitutional Convention, 1919-1920, art. IV, sec. 20;
    Amended 1962, Laws 1961, c. 251, sec. 1, p. 740;
    Amended 1972, Laws 1972, LB 347, sec. 1.

Annotations

    1. Jurisdiction and powers

    2. Regulation of rates and service

    3. Miscellaneous

    1. Jurisdiction and powers

    The powers enumerated in this provision apply only to common carriers. Nebraska Pub. Serv. Comm. v. Nebraska Pub. Power Dist., 256 Neb. 479, 590 N.W.2d 840 (1999).

    A legislative act or statute may constitutionally divest the Public Service Commission of jurisdiction over common carriers to the extent that the Legislature, through specific legislation, has preempted the Public Service Commission in control of common carriers. State ex rel. Spire v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 233 Neb. 262, 445 N.W.2d 284 (1989).

    Although the Public Service Commission is an independent regulatory body under the Nebraska Constitution, Public Service Commission jurisdiction to regulate common carriers may be restricted by the Legislature through "specific legislation." State ex rel. Spire v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 233 Neb. 262, 445 N.W.2d 284 (1989).

    The Legislature cannot constitutionally divest the Public Service Commission of jurisdiction over a class of common carriers by vesting a governmental agency, body of government, or branch of government, except the Legislature, with control over the class of common carriers. State ex rel. Spire v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 233 Neb. 262, 445 N.W.2d 284 (1989).

    While the Legislature may constitutionally occupy a regulatory field, thereby specifically and preemptively excluding the Public Service Commission from some control over a class of common carriers, the Legislature cannot absolutely and totally abandon or abolish constitutionally conferred regulatory control over common carriers. State ex rel. Spire v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 233 Neb. 262, 445 N.W.2d 284 (1989).

    The powers of the Public Service Commission are plenary and self-executing and past unauthorized services may be considered by the commission if not prohibited by statute. Groenewold v. Building Movers, Inc., 197 Neb. 187, 247 N.W.2d 629 (1976).

    The Public Service Commission has exclusive power and jurisdiction to inquire into complaints concerning telephone rates and where service is woefully inadequate, may require rebates. Myers v. Blair Tel. Co., 194 Neb. 55, 230 N.W.2d 190 (1975).

    The powers of the Nebraska Public Service Commission to regulate common carriers hereunder are plenary and self-executing, but where the Legislature enacts specific legislation implementing this section, it is controlling. Dahlsten v. Harris, 191 Neb. 714, 217 N.W.2d 813 (1974).

    The Nebraska Public Service Commission is without jurisdiction or authority to fix rates and charges for motor vehicle carriers transporting livestock in intrastate commerce. Livestock Carriers Div. of M.C. Assn. v. Midwest Packers Traf. Assn., 191 Neb. 1, 213 N.W.2d 443 (1973).

    Because of plaintiffs' lack of standing, issue of constitutionality is not reached but, in any event, the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act does not prohibit regulation and control by Public Service Commission. Ritums v. Howell, 190 Neb. 503, 209 N.W.2d 160 (1973).

    Railway Commission's plenary power to regulate common carriers hereunder extends to new and improved devices, equipment, and methods in telephone service. Radio-Fone, Inc. v. A.T.S. Mobile Telephone, Inc., 187 Neb. 637, 193 N.W.2d 442 (1972).

    Railway Commission's powers of enforcement are not limited to injunction authorized by statute in absence of specific legislation to that effect. Nebraska State Railway Commission v. Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co., 187 Neb. 369, 191 N.W.2d 438 (1971).

    The fact that the State Railway Commission has certain legislative and judicial powers does not prevent it from being in a broad sense an administrative agency. Yellow Cab Co. v. Nebraska State Railway Commission, 175 Neb. 150, 120 N.W.2d 922 (1963).

    Telephone companies are subject to regulation by the State Railway Commission. Block v. Lincoln Tel. & Tel. Co., 170 Neb. 531, 103 N.W.2d 312 (1960).

    State Railway Commission has authority to reconsider an order denying a certificate of public convenience and necessity. Miller v. Consolidated Motor Freight, Inc., 168 Neb. 712, 97 N.W.2d 265 (1959).

    Pipe line carriers are subject to regulation by State Railway Commission but are not required to obtain certificate of public convenience and necessity under Motor Carrier Act. Toronto Pipe Line Co. v. Camerland Pipelines Co., Inc., 167 Neb. 201, 92 N.W.2d 554 (1958).

    Specific legislation controls over general powers of commission. Edgar v. Wheeler Transport Service, Inc., 157 Neb. 1, 58 N.W.2d 496 (1953).

    Motor Carrier Act was specific legislation limiting plenary power of commission. In re Application of Richling, 154 Neb. 108, 47 N.W.2d 413 (1951).

    Transfer of jurisdiction over common carriers by air from State Railway Commission to Department of Aeronautics was unconstitutional. State ex rel. State Railway Commission v. Ramsey, 151 Neb. 333, 37 N.W.2d 502 (1949).

    Legislature may properly enact specific legislation limiting the scope of the commission's powers. Union Transfer Co. v. Bee Line Motor Freight, 150 Neb. 280, 34 N.W.2d 363 (1948).

    State Railway Commission has original jurisdiction to grant or deny certificate of convenience and necessity to common carrier. In re Application of Effenberger, 150 Neb. 13, 33 N.W.2d 296 (1948).

    Legislative act may deprive the Nebraska State Railway Commission of any power to act to extent that it occupies the field. State v. Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co., 147 Neb. 970, 25 N.W.2d 824 (1947).

    The State Railway Commission is a constitutionally created body, as distinguished from an executive department or commission created by the Legislature. State ex rel. Johnson v. Chase, 147 Neb. 758, 25 N.W.2d 1 (1946).

    Nebraska State Railway Commission is a constitutionally created body endowed with powers and duties. In re Application of Hergott, 145 Neb. 100, 15 N.W.2d 418 (1944).

    State Railway Commission has power to determine properly presented issues on application of railroad company to discontinue passenger trains on branch line, and, on appeal to Supreme Court, the question for determination is the sufficiency of the evidence to prove that the order is not unreasonable or arbitrary. In re Application of Chicago, B. & Q. R. R. Co., 138 Neb. 767, 295 N.W. 389 (1940).

    Railway Commission has sole power to grant, deny, amend, transfer or revoke certificate of convenience and necessity for the operation of a bus line. Marconnit v. Effenberger, 135 Neb. 564, 283 N.W. 226 (1939); Effenberger v. Marconnit, 135 Neb. 558, 283 N.W. 223 (1939).

    Legislature may delegate power to Railway Commission to regulate contract carriers where public may not continue to have safe and dependable transportation system unless contract carriers are brought under just and reasonable regulations bringing their service into relation with common carriers. Rodgers v. Nebraska State Railway Commission, 134 Neb. 832, 279 N.W. 800 (1938).

    State Railway Commission is without power to prevent railroad company from leasing portions of its private right-of-way to certain persons for private lumber yards and deny same privilege to others where demised premises are not railroad transportation facilities devoted or necessary to public use. Johnson v. Union Pac. R. R. Co., 133 Neb. 243, 274 N.W. 581 (1937).

    State Railway Commission has power to make award of damages against railroad company for exacting over charge from shipper. Central Bridge & Construction Co. v. Chicago & N. W. Ry. Co., 129 Neb. 726, 262 N.W. 852 (1935).

    In reviewing orders of Railway Commission which require exercise of legislative authority, the courts can only determine the limitation of power and reasonableness of the regulation. Central Bridge & Construction Co. v. Chicago & N. W. Ry. Co., 128 Neb. 779, 260 N.W. 172 (1935).

    Taxicab companies are common carriers and under jurisdiction of Railway Commission in absence of specific legislation. In re Yellow Cab & Baggage Co., 126 Neb. 138, 253 N.W. 80 (1934).

    Railway Commission has jurisdiction over street railways in cities. Omaha & C. B. St. Ry. Co. v. City of Omaha, 125 Neb. 825, 252 N.W. 407 (1934).

    Resolution of commission requiring motor carrier to deposit liability insurance or other security is not in excess of powers. Petersen v. Beal, 121 Neb. 348, 237 N.W. 146 (1931).

    Power to regulate and control telephone companies is subject to general constitutional limitations, but includes power to order connection of systems. Blackledge v. Farmers' Ind. Tel. Co. of Red Cloud, 105 Neb. 713, 181 N.W. 709 (1921).

    Railway Commission has jurisdiction over irrigation companies and may inquire into, regulate and fix water rates. McCook Irrigation & Water Power Co. v. Burtless, 98 Neb. 141, 152 N.W. 334 (1915).

    When parties fail to agree, Railway Commission may prescribe terms and conditions of connection, use of lines, and apportionment of expense. Hooper Tel. Co. v. Nebraska Tel. Co., 96 Neb. 245, 147 N.W. 674 (1914).

    Power to regulate includes street railway companies. Herpolsheimer Co. v. Lincoln Traction Co., 96 Neb. 154, 147 N.W. 206 (1914), 147 N.W. 1114 (1914), rehearing denied, 97 Neb. 113, 149 N.W. 326 (1914).

    Power extends over all railroads and within municipalities. Chicago, R. I. & P. Ry. Co. v. Nebraska State Railway Commission, 89 Neb. 853, 132 N.W. 409 (1911).

    2. Regulation of rates and service

    The Nebraska Public Service Commission is without jurisdiction or authority to fix rates and charges for motor vehicle carriers transporting livestock in intrastate commerce. Livestock Carriers Div. of M.C. Assn. v. Midwest Packers Traf. Assn., 191 Neb. 1, 213 N.W.2d 443 (1973).

    There being no specific legislation to the contrary, this provision is sufficiently broad to authorize the State Railway Commission to fix joint line rates. Howard McLean Co. v. Chicago, B. & Q. R.R. Co., 187 Neb. 30, 187 N.W.2d 300 (1971).

    State Railway Commission is clothed with power to hold hearings and establish rates for common carriers in intrastate commerce. Erickson v. Metropolitan Utilities Dist., 171 Neb. 654, 107 N.W.2d 324 (1961).

    State Railway Commission has power to regulate rates of telephone companies. City of Scottsbluff v. United Telephone Co. of the West, 171 Neb. 229, 106 N.W.2d 12 (1960).

    State Railway Commission has jurisdiction over regulation of rates and service of motor carriers. Strasheim v. Martin, 169 Neb. 787, 101 N.W.2d 161 (1960).

    Powers of State Railway Commission do not include regulation of rates of private carriers. City of Bayard v. North Central Gas Co., 164 Neb. 819, 83 N.W.2d 861 (1957).

    State Railway Commission had power to consider and determine the issues with respect to discontinuance of motor passenger train service on branch line of railroad. In re Application of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R. R. Co., 152 Neb. 367, 41 N.W.2d 165 (1950); In re Application of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R. R. Co., 152 Neb. 352, 41 N.W.2d 157 (1950).

    State Railway Commission has power to make rules and regulations for administration of Motor Carrier Act. In re Application of Neylon, 151 Neb. 587, 38 N.W.2d 552 (1949).

    Legislature has right to prescribe how commission shall proceed and what authority it may exercise in regulating common carriers. Chicago & N. W. Ry. Co. v. County Board of Dodge County, 148 Neb. 648, 28 N.W.2d 396 (1947).

    The grant or refusal of a certificate of convenience and necessity to a motor carrier is within the constitutional authority of the State Railway Commission. Moritz v. State Railway Commission, 147 Neb. 400, 23 N.W.2d 545 (1946).

    State Railway Commission may make different intrastate freight rates from the initial shipping point to different places in the same switching district at the station to which shipments are consigned, where difference in conditions so warrants. Shields Co. v. Chicago, B. & Q. R. R. Co., 133 Neb. 722, 276 N.W. 925 (1938).

    State Railway Commission has plenary jurisdiction over the rates, service and regulation of common carriers. Furstenberg v. Omaha & C. B. St. Ry. Co., 132 Neb. 562, 272 N.W. 756 (1937).

    Telephone companies are subject to Railway Commission's reasonable orders on due hearings as to rates and time and manner of service. Farmers & Merchants Tel. Co. of Alma v. Orleans Community Club, 116 Neb. 633, 218 N.W. 583 (1928).

    Railway Commission, in absence of specific legislation limiting power, has under this section all power in regulation of rates and service, and general control, that the people themselves could exercise. Omaha & C. B. St. Ry. Co. v. Nebraska State Ry. Com., 103 Neb. 695, 173 N.W. 690 (1919); In re Lincoln Traction Co., 103 Neb. 229, 171 N.W. 192 (1919).

    When question is whether community or locality is properly served, not only question of rates are involved, but other questions and conditions peculiarly within province of Railway Commission. Rivett Lumber & Coal Co. of Benson v. Chicago & N. W. Ry. Co., 102 Neb. 492, 167 N.W. 570 (1918).

    Railway Commission has power to regulate rates and service within municipalities, and municipality is not empowered to contract with telephone company so as to deprive commission of right to regulate. Marquis v. Polk County Tel. Co., 100 Neb. 140, 158 N.W. 927 (1916).

    Railway Commission can fix rates only in absence of specific legislation. State ex rel. Missouri P. R. Co. v. Clarke, 98 Neb. 566, 153 N.W. 623 (1915).

    State Railway Commission had jurisdiction to regulate intrastate business use and charges therefor of team tracks on railroad's belt line in city of Omaha. Missouri Pac. R. R. Corp. v. Nebraska State Ry. Commission, 65 F.2d 557 (8th Cir. 1933).

    Rates are within rule-making power of State Railway Commission. Mogis v. Lyman-Richey Sand & Gravel Corp., 90 F.Supp. 251 (D. Neb. 1950).

    3. Miscellaneous

    Railway commissioner was eligible for office of State Treasurer. Swanson v. Sorensen, 181 Neb. 312, 148 N.W.2d 197 (1967).

    Where the Legislature enacts specific legislation implementing this section, such legislation is controlling. Sherdon v. American Communication Co., 178 Neb. 454, 134 N.W.2d 42 (1965).

    Public power districts are not common carriers. Consumers P. P. Dist. v. Twin Valleys P. P. Dist., 172 Neb. 315, 109 N.W.2d 372 (1961).

    State Railway Commission is subject to and governed by specific legislation. Neuswanger v. Houk, 170 Neb. 670, 104 N.W.2d 235 (1960).

    Legislature has, by specific legislation, regulated common carriers by motor vehicle. R. B. "Dick" Wilson, Inc. v. Hargleroad, 165 Neb. 468, 86 N.W.2d 177 (1957).

    While this section does not contain provisions pertaining to eligibility, the Legislature may make reasonable restrictions upon eligibility to hold office of member of State Railway Commission. State ex rel. Quinn v. Marsh, 141 Neb. 436, 3 N.W.2d 892 (1942).

    One not admitted to the bar is not authorized to engage in the practice of the law before the Nebraska State Railway Commission. State ex rel. Johnson v. Childe, 139 Neb. 91, 295 N.W. 381 (1941).

    Members of Railway Commission are constituted a separate class in fixing salary. State ex rel. Taylor v. Hall, 129 Neb. 669, 262 N.W. 835 (1935).

    A State Railway Commissioner is not required to give an official bond. State ex rel. Shields v. Hall, 103 Neb. 17, 170 N.W. 173 (1918).