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AGO 1970 No. 10 - June 03, 1970
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS - STATE - LABOR AND INDUSTRIES - ELEVATOR CODE - MUNICIPALITY'S JURISDICTION

A municipality which had an elevator code in effect prior to 1963 may continue to assume jurisdiction over conveyances in buildings owned by the municipality itself as well as privately owned buildings; however, under RCW 70.87.050, as amended, conveyances in buildings owned by the state, a county, or a political subdivision other than the municipality itself have been placed under the jurisdiction of the department of labor and industries of the state of Washington.

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                                                                    June 3, 1970

 

Municipal Research Council
4719 Brooklyn Avenue N.E.
Seattle, Washington 98105

                                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 1970 No. 10

 

Attention:  Dr. Ernest H. Campbell

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested the opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Does a municipality having an elevator code which was in effect prior to the adoption of chapter 26, Laws of 1963, have jurisdiction over conveyances in those buildings located within the municipality which are owned by the state, a county, or a political subdivision other than the municipality itself?

            We answer this question in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            A brief summary of the legislative history of chapter 70.87 RCW would appear to be helpful as a background.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Prior to 1963, municipalities with elevator codes were free to exercise control over the installation, erection and operation of elevators and other conveyances in buildings without regard to any minimum code requirements imposed by statute.  This was changed by chapter 26, Laws of 1963 (now codified as chapter 70.87 RCW).  Section 2 of this act (RCW 70.87.020) stated that the purpose of the act was to increase the safety of conveyances1/ and make them reasonably safe to persons and property.  In order to accomplish this, the director of the department of labor and industries, through the supervisor of safety, was directed by § 3 (RCW 70.87.030) to administer the provisions of the act and to promulgate and adopt appropriate rules and minimum standards.2/   The coverage of the act was stated in § 4 (RCW 70.87.040) as follows:

            "All privately owned conveyances and all publicly owned conveyances are subject to the provisions of this act except as hereinafter specifically excluded."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Section 5 of the original 1963 act (codified as RCW 70.87.050) provided an exclusion for buildings occupied by certain municipalities as follows:

            "In the event that municipalities otherwise exempted herein, which occupy any building or structure exclusively or jointly with a county or other political subdivision, those municipalities shall govern the operation, erection, installation, alteration, inspection and repair of any conveyance located in such building or structure."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Section 20 of the 1963 act (RCW 70.87.200) provided a further exclusion of conveyances as follows, in pertinent part:

            "The provisions of this act shall not apply where;

            ". . .

            "(3) Conveyances are located within and are subject to the inspection of any municipality having in effect an elevator code prior to the adoption of this act, and the provisions of which municipal elevator code are equal to or in conformity with the provisions and safety standards of the American Standard Safety Code for Elevators, Dumbwaiters and Escalators."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            The effect of these two exclusionary sections was to exclude from the jurisdiction of the department of labor and industries those conveyances located in buildings occupied by municipalities, either exclusively or jointly with a county or other political subdivision, as well as all other conveyances within the municipality and subject to its inspection, provided the municipality had an adequate code of its own in effect prior to the adoption of chapter 26, Laws of 1963.3/

             It was against this background that § 5 of the original 1963 act (RCW 70.87.050) was amended by § 2, chapter 108, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess.  By this amendment, the entire text of the original section (quoted above) was deleted and was replaced with the following:

            "The operation, erection, installation, alteration, inspection, and repair of any conveyance located in, or used in connection with any building owned by the state,  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] county, or any political subdivision not otherwise exempted by this chapter,4/even though located within a city having an elevator code, shall be under the jurisdiction of the Washington state department of labor and industries."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            The purpose of this amendatory section, as we view it, was to remove any doubt that conveyances in buildings owned by the state, a county, or any political subdivision not otherwise exempted, are subject to the jurisdiction of the department of labor and industries, whether or not those buildings are located within a municipality which had an elevator code in effect prior to the adoption of the 1963 act.

            The exemption of political subdivisions apparently referred to in RCW 70.87.050, as amended, is contained in RCW 70.87.200 (2), supra, which was also amended by chapter 108,  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess.; see, § 4 thereof.  This RCW section now provides an exemption for municipalities with elevator codes in effect prior to 1963, as follows:

            "The provisions of this chapter shall not apply where:

            ". . .

            "(2) Municipalities having in effect an elevator code prior to the adoption of the original act of 1963 may continue to assume jurisdiction over the operation, erection, installation, alteration or repair of elevators, escalators, dumbwaiters, moving walks, manlifts and parking elevators and may inspect, issue permits, collect fees and prescribe minimum requirements for the construction, design, use and maintenance of such conveyances providing such requirements are equal to or in conformity with the requirements of this act and to all rules and regulations pertaining to such conveyances as adopted and administered by the Washington state department of labor and industries.  Upon the failure of any municipality to carry out the provisions of this chapter with regard to any conveyances or conveyance the Washington state department of labor and industries may assume jurisdiction over any such conveyances.  A municipality upon electing not to maintain jurisdiction over certain conveyances located therein, may mutually enter into a written agreement with the Washington state department of labor and industries transferring exclusive jurisdiction of such conveyances to said department."

            This provision permits a municipality with an elevator code in effect prior to 1963 to continue to assume jurisdiction so long as the code meets the requirements of the chapter, and to exercise this jurisdiction to the extent that it may by law do so.  However, any previous authority of the municipality to exercise its jurisdiction over conveyances in buildings owned by the state, a county, or other political subdivision was, in our opinion, removed by RCW 70.87.050, as amended.

            In thus concluding we have considered the possible argument that RCW 70.87.050 and RCW 70.87.200, as amended by §§ 2 and 4 of chapter 108, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess.,supra, are in conflict; and that, therefore, the exemption provisions of RCW 70.87.200 should prevail, thus reserving to exempted municipalities jurisdiction over all conveyances located within the municipalities on the same basis as existed prior to these two 1969 amendments.  However, such a construction would seem to us to be contrary to the plain meaning of the act considered in the light of its legislative history.  It would, in essence, render meaningless the provisions of § 2, chapter 108, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess. (RCW 70.87.050), specifically placing jurisdiction over conveyances in buildings owned by the state, a county or any nonexempted political subdivision in the department of labor and industries; that is, such a construction would render the language of the latter statute redundant to RCW 70.87.040,supra, (codifying § 4, chapter 26, Laws of 1963) which provides for jurisdiction under the act over all privately and publicly owned conveyances except those specifically excluded.  Thus, this construction must be rejected under the well-established rule of statutory construction that effect must be given, if possible, to every word, clause and sentence  [[Orig. Op. Page 6]] contained in a legislative enactment.  Chelan County v. Fellers, 65 Wn.2d 943, 400 P.2d 609 (1965).

            Accordingly, it is our opinion that a municipality with an elevator code in effect prior to 1963 may continue to assume jurisdiction over conveyances in buildings owned by the municipality itself as well as privately owned buildings; however, under RCW 70.87.050, as amended, conveyances in buildings owned by the state, a county, or a political subdivision other than the municipality itself have been placed under the jurisdiction of the department of labor and industries of the state of Washington.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General

GOMER L. CANNON
Assistant Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/Defined in § 1 (2) as meaning

            ". . . an elevator, escalator, dumbwaiter, belt manlift, automobile parking elevator and moving walk, . . ."

            all as more specifically defined in other subsections of this section.

2/Section 1, chapter 22, Laws of 1970, amended RCW 70.87.030 so as to transfer the duties of the supervisor of safety under that statute to the supervisor of the division of building and construction safety inspection services, which was created by § 1, chapter 32, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess. (RCW 43.22.010) and given the responsibility for elevator inspections.

3/The effective date of chapter 26, Laws of 1963, was June 13, 1963.

4/The phrase ". . . not otherwise exempted by this chapter, . . ." represents a revision of the statute made by the code reviser.  As enacted, § 2, chapter 108, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., provided ". . . not otherwiseexempted by this 1969 amendatory act, . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

 

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