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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government


The New York Times
April 7, 1914

Michigan Supreme Court Decides Interesting Motor Case—New Chauffeur's Body.

Word has been received by the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce here that the Supreme Court of Michigan has declared unconstitutional the law passed in that State last year requiring a graduated registration fee from automobiles at the rate of 50 cents a horse power.  The effect of the decision, which is one in which motorists in many States are interested, will be that only part of the fees collected can be retained and a large part of the $200,000 taken in will have to be returned.  Only $3 a car, the sum stipulated under the old law, can be kept by the State.  The decision was on technical grounds, the court holding that "the clear purpose of the legislation in enacting so large an amount from the owners of motor cars was to produce a fund for highway purposes under the guise of regulation, which makes it a tax measure, which is clearly not covered by the title of the act."  The court adds: "There can be no more labor or expense in registering a vehicle of high horse power than in regulating one of low power, and the only reasonable purpose in the graduated fee is the increased revenue."


It is said that if Fire Commissioner Adamson's request for $250,000 for motor apparatus is granted, horses will be entirely eliminated from the New York Fire Department in four years.  The appropriation which he seeks is to pay for thirty tractors to draw steamers and ladder trucks now in use, twenty motor tenders now using forty horses, five motor hook and ladder trucks, and three motor fire engines.  The Commissioner reports that the motor apparatus now owned by the city proved more efficient and reliable than that drawn by horses during the snow storms of the last Winter, and that the saving in horse feed amounts to $67,000 a year.


There has just been incorporated the Chauffeur's Unity Association of the City of New York, the object of which is to promote the moral, social, and business interests of chauffeurs as a class.  The association will maintain an employment bureau, for the services of which there will be no charge.  The record of the individual chauffeur will be looked up before he is admitted to membership, and the applicant must have good moral character and at least three years' experience in driving motor vehicles.  The initiation fee is to be $1 and the annual dues $6.  The offices of the association will be at 211 West End Avenue.  The officers are John Smith Williams, President; Robert S. Sims, Vice President; Harry Abercrombie, Treasurer; William H. Cooney, Secretary, and Joseph A. McPeak, General Supervisor.  The new association has the backing of many of the prominent motor companies here, including the Peerless, Packard, National, Renault, Pierce Arrow Auto, Lancia, S. V. G., Benz, Lozier, Stevens-Duryea, Demarest, Issotta-Franchini, Hudson, Mercedes, Franklin, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Lyons-Knight, Mercer, Simplex, Jeffry, Cole, Fiat, De Dion Bouton, and Minerva.

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