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AGO 1957 No. 55 - May 03, 1957
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

LEGISLATURE ‑- INTERIM COMMITTEE EXPENSES

Members of joint fact finding committee on highways, streets and bridges are entitled to reimbursement for expenses plus mileage for days or parts of days spent traveling to and from meetings of the committee.

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                                                                    May 3, 1957

Honorable Julia Butler Hansen
Chairman, Joint Fact-Finding Committee
On Highways, Streets and Bridges
Cathlamet, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 55


Dear Mrs. Hansen:

            You have requested our opinion as to whether members of the joint fact-finding committee on highways, streets and bridges are entitled to the payment of twenty dollars per day expenses during the time a member is traveling to and from meetings of the committee.

            We answer your question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 36, chapter 172, Laws of 1957, provides in part as follows:

            "The members of the joint fact-finding committee . . . shall be reimbursed for their expenses incurred while attending sessions of the committee or meetings of any subcommittee of the committee or while engaged on other committee business authorized by the committee to the extent of twenty dollars per day plus ten cents per mile in going and coming from committee sessions or for travel on other committee business authorized by the committee. . . ."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            It appears from the plain language of the above cited section that a committee member is entitled to reimbursement for his expenses to the extent of twenty dollars per day while attending meetings of the committee.  Certainly a necessary concomitant of "attending" is getting to and from a meeting.  Therefore, members should be reimbursed for expenses to the extent of twenty dollars per day for such days or parts of days required by the member to reach and to be present at the committee meeting place.

            Authority for the conclusion may be found in a decision by the Wyoming Supreme Court (Commissioners vs. Blakely, 20 Wyo. 259, 123 Pac. 72) where that court was called upon to determine whether or not a salaried public officer was entitled to an additional per diem allowance for time spent going to and coming from meetings he was required to attend.  The statute being construed provided the per diem expense should be paid "for each day actually employed in the discharge of the duties of his office."  It was held the officer was entitled to expense for such traveling time even though more time was spent traveling than in the actual transaction of the business which required it.  In effect, the court said that time spent away from home required by the duties of the office was public business.

            This conclusion receives further support in the decisions of the Alabama and Wisconsin Supreme Courts in cases calling for them to construe the meaning of the word "attendance."  (Ex parte Pickett, 24 Ala. 91, 95, and State ex rel. Boyd vs. Hastings, 16 Wis. 358, 361).  In each of these cases it was held a member of the legislative assembly is in "attendance" for the purpose of determining his right to compensation during attendance on the legislature, on Sundays, temporary adjournments, and holidays.

            We trust the foregoing analysis has been helpful to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General


HERBERT TIMBLIN
Assistant Attorney General

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