Hepburn Rate Act of 1906

The Hepburn Rate Act of 1906 expanded the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), giving the agency the power to set maximum railroad rates.

Under the legislation, the ICC could view the railroads’ financial records, a prospect made easier by standardized bookkeeping. The Hepburn Act extended the ICC’s authority to cover bridges, terminals, ferries, railroad sleeping cars, express companies and oil pipelines.

In 1910, Congress passed the Mann-Elkins Act to address limitations in implementing the Hepburn Act. The updated legislation authorized the ICC to initiate reviews of railroad rate increases rather than respond to shipper complaints.

Under the 1910 law, the ICC could set “just and reasonable” maximum rates and placed the burden of proof of demonstrating reasonableness on the railroads.

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