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AGO 1950 No. 298 - July 07, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington


Moneys appropriated under chapter 88, Laws of 1949, cannot at this time be spent for the purposes you mention.

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                                                                     July 7, 1950

His Excellency
Arthur B. Langlie
Governor of the State of Washington
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                   Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 298

Attention:  !ttMr. Merritt E. Benson, Assistant to the Governor

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of June 30, 1950, in which you ask the following question:

            Is it possible, under chapter 88, Laws of 1949, to spend money from the Disaster Relief Fund for equipment and supplies and for other phases of the program incidental to complete civil defense organization?

            The conclusions upon the question propounded may be summarized as follows:

            Moneys appropriated under chapter 88, Laws of 1949, cannot at this time be spent for the purposes you mention.


            Chapter 88, Laws of 1949, consists of five separate sections.  The first section is the appropriation; section 2 provides:

            "'Disaster relief,' for the purposes of this act, means any concerted effort to relieve suffering, minimize injury and repair damage resulting in this state from fire, flood, earthquake or other calamitous visitation."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Section 3 provides for the allocation of funds appropriated by the act; section 4 creates a State Civil Defense Committee; section 5 is the emergency clause.

            On June 23, 1949, we issued an opinion to you [[Opinion No. 49-51-75]], holding in substance that the Civil Defense Committee is without authority to provide temporary classrooms and new heating plant which are needed because of temporary classrooms in the school district under consideration.  In such opinion, we gave rather a strict construction to section 2, supra.  We adhere to the underlying thought and principle announced in such opinion.

            It would seem to us that the purpose of such appropriation was to minimize the injury and repair the damage which might result from "fire, flood, earthquake, or other calamitous visitation."

            At the present time the international situation has not produced any fire, any flood, or any earthquake; nor, in our opinion, has it produced any "calamitous visitation" within the meaning of Section 2.  It is possible that such international situation may, in the future, become so grave that it can properly be considered as within the scope of section 2, supra.  Therefore, we do not wish to be understood as in any sense holding that the international situation could never be brought within the scope of section 2.  Our point is, that we do not believe it can be so brought at the present time.

            We might mention the fact that a special session of legislature is scheduled to meet very shortly, and a proper appropriation bill might very properly be a subject for consideration by such special session.

            Answering your question directly, we do not believe that the present situation with regard to Civil Defense can properly be classified as within the purpose of chapter 88, Laws of 1949.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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