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AGO 1950 No. 265 - April 28, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

NOTICE OF ELECTION ON ISSUANCE OF GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS OF THE STATE REFERRED TO THE PEOPLE BY THE LEGISLATURE -- WHEN AND HOW PUBLISHED

Publication once a week for 3 months next preceding the election at which they are submitted to the people, of notices of election upon measures referred to the people by the legislature pursuant to provisions of section 3, Article VIII of the State Constitution, clearly fulfills the publication requirement of said section.  Ballot title must also be published in notice required by section 11, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (section 5148-3a, Rem. Supp. 1949).

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                                                                   April 28, 1950

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 265

Dear Sir:

            We are in receipt of your letter of February 21, 1950, wherein you have asked the following question:

            Where the legislature has passed certain measures calling for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the state, and such laws have been assigned referendum bill numbers, and are to be submitted to the people for popular vote at the next general election, when and how must such proposed laws be published?

            The conclusions reached may be summarized as follows:

            The publication of such measures once a week, in at least one newspaper in each county, if one be published therein, throughout the state, for three months next preceding the election at which they are submitted to the people clearly meets the requirement of section 3, Article VIII of the State Constitution.  In addition, the ballot title of such measures must be included in the notice of election provided for in section 11, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (§ 5148-3a, Rem. Supp. 1949).

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            You have advised us that:

            "In compliance with Section 3, Article VIII of our State Constitution, the 1949 Legislature in passing Chapters 229, 230 and 231 has referred same to the voters at the next state general election for approval or rejection.  Pursuant to R.R.S. 5416 my office has identified these measures as Referendum Bill No. 7, Referendum Bill No. 8 and Referendum Bill No. 9, respectively.

            "* * *

            "Since this will be the first time in the history of the state that general obligation bonds will be presented to the voters as referendum bills‑-your direction is also requested as to the proper time and manner of publication."

            Chapters 229, 230 and 231, provide for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Washington in the aggregate amount of eighty million dollars.  By the provisions of section 7 of each of said acts, such acts are to be submitted to the people for their adoption and ratification, or rejection at the general election to be held on the Tuesday next succeeding the first Monday in November, 1950, in accordance with the provisions of section 3 of Article VIII of the State Constitution and in accordance with the provisions of section 1 of Article II of the State Constitution, as amended, and the laws adopted to facilitate the operation thereof.

            The pertinent part of section 3, Article VIII of the State Constitution provides as follows:

            "* * * such law shall be published in at least one newspaper in each county, if one be published therein, throughout the state, for three months next preceding the election in which it is submitted to the people."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            While the language in question has apparently never been construed by our supreme court, the authorities elsewhere are to the effect that one publication a month for the three month period preceding the election is sufficient to satisfy the constitutional requirement.  Thus, the supreme court of Iowa in the recent decision of Knorr v. Beardsley, (Iowa, 1949), 38 N.W. (2d) 236 held that publication of the Iowa Soldiers Bonus Act, once each month for three months (during the months of August, September, and October 1948, preceding the general election of November 2, 1948) constituted compliance with section 5 of Article VII of the Iowa Constitution, the language of which is identical with the portion of section 3, Article VIII of the Washington Constitution quoted above.  A similar ruling was laid down by the Pennsylvania Court in Commonwealth ex rel. Schnader v. Beamish, 309 Pa. 510, 164 A. 615 [[164 Atl. 615]](1932 wherein it was held that under section 1 of Article 18 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, relating to constitutional amendments, and providing that "* * * the Secretary of the Commonwealth shall cause the same to be published three months before the next general election, in at least two newspapers in every county in which such newspapers shall be published * * *," it was proper to publish once each month for the required three months.  We have found no decisions to the contrary.

            Apparently, the Veterans' Bonus Act of 1920 is the only other instance in the economic history of our state, that a measure has been referred to the people by the legislature under the provisions of section 3, Article VIII of the Constitution.  You have advised us that in that instance, Referendum Bill No. 2 was published weekly for three months before the people voted on it at an election held on November 2, 1920.  It may be that as a precautionary measure, you will wish to follow this precedent rather than the authorities from other jurisdictions as set forth above.  It is our conclusion that the publication of these laws once a week for the three month period next preceding the election, in at least one newspaper in each county, if one be published therein, will clearly satisfy the requirements of the Constitution.  The constitutional article in question does not specify whether the notice shall be published in weekly or in daily newspapers, and it would seem to make no difference which type be employed, so long as those chosen be papers which are circulated generally and are widely read in the counties wherein they are published.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            We note in passing that the ballot titles must also be included in the notices of election provided for in section 11, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (5148-3a, Rem. Supp. 1949).

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

RICHARD OTIS WHITE
Assistant Attorney General

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