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TAMPA WATER WORKS CO. V. TAMPA, 199 U. S. 241 (1905)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Tampa Water Works Co. v. Tampa, 199 U.S. 241 (1905)

Tampa Water Works Company v. Tampa

No. 29

Argued October 27, 1905

Decided November 13, 1905

199 U.S. 241


The constitution of Florida has a clause to the effect that the legislature is invested with full powers to prevent unjust discrimination and excessive charges by persons and corporations engaged as common carriers and performing other public services of a public nature, and that it shall provide for enforcing such laws. In pursuance of this clause, a law was passed empowering cities to prescribe by ordinance maximum reasonable charges for water, provided that the act should not impair the validity of any valid contract, or be held to validate any contract theretofore made. After the constitution but before the act, the City of Tampa had made a contract with a water company giving the water company the right to charge certain rates. After the act, it passed an ordinance fixing lower rates, not, however, alleged to be unreasonable. The Supreme Court of Florida sustained the ordinance, reading the statute as giving the power to fix reasonable rates, when it was possible, without impairing the obligation of contracts, and the constitution as meaning that the legislature was to have an inalienable power to make such laws. Held that this interpretation was sufficiently plausible to be followed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

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