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AGO 1957 No. 74 - May 29, 1957
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

MERIT SYSTEM ‑- PERSONNEL BOARD

The Governor's proclamation of March 29, 1957, accomplished full restoration of merit system coverage to the staff of the State Personnel Board.

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                                                                   May 29, 1957

Honorable Peter R. Giovine
Commissioner
Employment Security Department
P.O. Box 367
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 74


Dear Sir:

            You have requested our opinion with regard to the proclamation of Governor Rosellini dated March 29, 1957, relating to the merit system status of employees of the State Personnel Board.  The question is:

            "Did the Governor's proclamation of March 29, 1957, effectively accomplish the stated purpose, i.e., the full restoration of merit system coverage to the staff of the State Personnel Board?"

            It is our opinion that your question must be answered in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            To insure the impartial selection of personnel on the basis of merit, the State Personnel Board was established in accordance with RCW 50.12.030, which provides in part as follows:

            "For the purpose of insuring the impartial selection of personnel on the basis of merit, the governor shall appoint a personnel board of three members who are known to be interested in  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] the selection of efficient government personnel, and who are not officers or employees of any department or office of the state, or elected public officials.  All appointments shall be for a term of six years, except that the terms of the members first taking office shall be two, four and six years, respectively.  All personnel of the employment security department, and such other departments or offices of the state as the governor may designate, or as provided by law, shall be selected from registers established by the personnel board. . . ."

            On March 29, 1957, Governor Rosellini issued the proclamation here in question, which we quote:

            "WHEREAS, The personnel of certain State Departments are selected from registers established by the State Personnel Board; and

            "WHEREAS, The employment of personnel within the State Personnel Board should be commensurate with the employment of personnel in the State Departments served by the State Personnel Board; and

            "WHEREAS, Under the provisions of RCW 50.12.030 the Governor has the power to designate departments and offices of the State whose personnel shall be selected from registers established by the State Personnel Board:

            "NOW, THEREFORE, I, Albert D. Rosellini, Governor of the State of Washington, by virtue of authority in me vested under the provisions of RCW 50.12.030, do hereby direct the State Personnel Board to select all employees of the Personnel Board from registers established by the State Personnel Board to be effective April 1, 1957."

            Personnel of the Employment Security Department are placed under the merit system by the following language of RCW 50.12.030: "All personnel . . . shall be selected from the registers established by the personnel board."  The proclamation of March 29, 1957, uses the language of the statute.  Therefore, the wording of the statute and the proclamation  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] being identical, the employees of the personnel board are within the provisions of the merit system to the same degree as the employees of the Employment Security Department.  Further, the language "The employment of personnel within the State Personnel Board should be commensurate with the employment of personnel in the State Departments served by the State Personnel Board;" (Governor's proclamation dated March 29, 1957) clearly evidences the intention that the staff of the State Personnel Board shall enjoy equal status.

            In the absence of case or text authority setting forth rules of construction of gubernatorial proclamations, we have applied rules of legislative construction.  Words are to be taken as understood in their ordinary and popular sense.  Cochran v. Nelson, 26 Wn. (2d) 82, 86.  The fundamental object of judicial construction is to ascertain and give effect to the intention of the lawmakers.  The intention of the lawmaker is to be deduced, if possible, from what the legislative body said.  Graffell v. Honeysuckle, 30 Wn. (2d) 390, 399.

            We think that the proclamation clearly sets forth an intent effectively to restore merit system coverage to the staff of the State Personnel Board.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General


PAUL J. MURPHY
Assistant Attorney General

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