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Illinois Commerce Commission - RG 402 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Illinois Commerce Commission - RG 402
Variant Name: Public Utilities Commission; Railroad and Warehouse Commission

Historical Note:

The Railroad and Warehouse Commission was created in 1871 to supervise the railroad and warehouse business in Illinois (L. 1871, p. 618). The Governor appointed three commissioners to initiate proceedings against railroad and warehouse companies that violated the law, to hear and decide applications for the cancellation of warehouse licenses, to study the annual reports of railroads, and to report annually to the Governor on the commission's activities and on the operations of railroads and warehouses in the state. The commission also was empowered to examine any accounts or other records relating to the management of railroads and warehouses, to establish rules and regulations for the inspection of grain, to fix rates for grain inspection, and to direct the activities of the Chief Inspector of Grain. In 1873 an appeals committee was appointed by the commission to handle complaints on grain inspection and in 1907 the commission was empowered to issue warehouse licenses (L. 1873, p. 141; L. 1907, p. 491).

In 1911 the commission's jurisdiction was expanded to include the supervision of express companies, carriers by water, and sleeping car companies. The commission further was authorized to investigate railroad accidents that resulted in injury or loss of life, to establish rates and regulations concerning the transportation of persons or property, and to conduct investigations and hearings on the operation of public utilities (L. 1911, p. 464).

The Railroad and Warehouse Commission was succeeded in 1913 by the Public Utilities Commission (L. 1913, p. 459). The new five-member commission was to supervise all public utilities (i.e., any company providing transportation of persons or property, conveying oil or gas by pipeline, transmitting telephone or telegraph messages, or producing, storing, or selling heat, light, electricity, or water). The commission was authorized to collect fees for providing certified copies of their proceedings, orders, and reports; to establish a uniform system of accounts to be kept by public utilities; and to regulate the issuance of stocks, bonds, and other securities, rate increases, the crossing of railroad tracks, and the terms of contracts, sales, and leases between utilities. The commission also proposed legislation and conducted hearings relative to pending legislation connected with the management of public utilities.

The Civil Administrative Code of 1917 made the Public Utilities Commission an independent unit within the Department of Trade and Commerce. The Chief Inspector of Grain and all warehouse registrars also were placed within the Department of Trade and Commerce. In 1921 the Illinois Commerce Commission succeeded to the powers and responsibilities of the Public Utilities Commission and when the Department of Trade and Commerce was abolished in 1933 the commission continued to operate independently (L. 1921, p. 702). The duties of the Chief Inspector of Grain were transferred to the Department of Agriculture although the rules and regulations for grain inspection still were established by the Commerce Commission. That duty also was transferred to the Department of Agriculture in 1951. (L. 1951, p. 1753).

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