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AGO 1958 No. 221 - September 30, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

MOTOR VEHICLE ‑- FUND ‑- USE OF MONEYS WITHIN STATE PATROL HIGHWAY ACCOUNT FOR CAPITAL OUTLAY ‑- HIGHWAYS ‑- USE BY STATE PATROL OF MONEYS WITHIN THE HIGHWAY SAFETY FUND AND STATE PATROL HIGHWAY ACCOUNT IN MOTOR VEHICLE FUND.

Moneys within the state patrol highway account in the motor vehicle fund and in the highway safety fund may be used for purposes of capital outlay if such expenditures are necessary for policing the public highways by the state patrol.

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                                                              September 30, 1958

Honorable Roy A. Betlach
Chief of the Washington State Patrol
General Administration Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 221

Dear Sir:

            You have requested our opinion on the following questions:

            1.  "Can monies within the State Patrol Highway Account in the Motor Vehicle Fund be used for purposes of capital outlay?

            2.  "Can monies within the Highway Safety Fund be used for purposes of capital outlay?"

            We answer both of your questions in the affirmative, as qualified in the analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The funds under consideration are derived from two sources: The motor vehicle fund, which must be used exclusively for highway purposes (18th)  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] Amendment), and the highway safety fund, which was created for the use of the state patrol in the performance of any duties imposed upon it by law (RCW 46.68.060 (1957 Supp.)).

            In an opinion of this office rendered to the legislative auditor on February 21, 1955 (AGO 55-57 No. 26), we held that the highway safety fund could be consolidated with the motor vehicle fund since the major portion of the revenue therefrom is used for highway purposes.  We pointed out that state parks and parkways received a substantial portion thereof from operators' license fees, which fees are excepted in the proviso from the restricted use for highway purposes.

            The 18th Amendment, in so far as here applicable, provides:

            "All fees collected by the State of Washington as license fees for motor vehicles and all excise taxes collected by the State of Washington on the sale, distribution or use of motor vehicle fuel and all other state revenue intended to be used for highway purposes, shall be paid into the state treasury and placed in a special fund to be used exclusively for highway purposes.  Such highway purposes shall be construed to include the following:

            ". . .

            "(b) The construction, reconstruction, maintenance, repair, and betterment of public highways, county roads, bridges and city streets; including the cost and expense of (1) acquisition of rights-of-way, (2) installing, maintaining and operating traffic signs and signal lights, (3) policing by the state of public highways, (4) operation of movable span bridges, (5) operation of ferries which are a part of any public highway, county road, or city street;"

            The enumeration of specific purposes has been construed as not limiting the scope of the term "highway purposes," but rather as enlarging and extending it.  State ex rel. Bugge v. Martin (1951), 38 Wn. (2d) 834, 840.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            As to your first question, we are therefore concerned with whether or not the appropriation to the state patrol from the motor vehicle fund can be used for capital outlay purposes.  If the capital outlay purposes fall within the provisions of the 18th Amendment as being "exclusively for highway purposes," as enlarged and extended by any of the five subdivisions, we can see no legal objection thereto.

            In the enactment of the constitutional amendment in question, we believe that the people considered it important not only to construct and maintain highways but to provide that they be policed in the interest of their safe use.  Clearly, the word "policing" does not mean merely the personal services of the members of the state patrol, but also such materials, equipment and buildings as are necessary and proper for the proper discharge of such policing services.  Thus, in so far as capital outlay expenditures are necessary for policing the public highways by the state patrol, they constitute a legitimate item for legislative appropriation for such purposes.

            In answer to your second question, the highway safety fund was created specifically "for the use of the Washington state patrol in the performance of any duties imposed upon it by law."  RCW 46.68.060 (1957 Supp.).  There is no limitation on the use of this fund, as there is on the use of the motor vehicle fund, for exclusively highway purposes.

            Consequently, the legislature may properly make an appropriation from the highway safety fund for any purpose deemed by it reasonably necessary and proper to enable the state patrol to perform the duties imposed on it by law.  The only limitation is its use in the performance of duties imposed on the state patrol by law.

            We trust this information will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

MITCHELL DOUMIT
Assistant Attorney General

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