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AGO 1956 No. 262 - May 07, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH ‑- FEDERAL AID FOR HOSPITAL SURVEY AND CONSTRUCTION ACT

 1. Public Law 725 enacted by the 79th Congress, August 13, 1946, entitled "Hospital Survey and Construction Act" was not adopted by reference in ch. 197, L. 1949.

 2. Chapter 197, L. 1949, is broad enough to and does authorize the state department of health of the state of Washington to accept any contributions made by the Federal government pursuant to the provisions of Public Law 725 as amended by Public Law 482 or any other Federal law that might be enacted in the future for the same purpose.

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                                                                    May 7, 1956

Honorable Bernard Bucove, M.D.
Director
State Department of Health
Smith Tower
Seattle 4, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 262

 Dear Dr. Bucove:

             By letter previously acknowledged you have requested that this office reconsider a former opinion issued by this office.  The opinion referred to pertains to an interpretation of a Federal act known as Public Law 725, as amended by Public Law 482, and an act of our state legislature, chapter 70.40 RCW, chapter 197, Laws of 1949.  The particular question submitted is as to whether chapter 70.40 RCW authorizes your department to carry out a survey to determine the need for (1) treatment or diagnostic centers; (2) nursing home facilities; (3) chronic disease hospitals; and (4) rehabilitation centers, and you further request our opinion as to whether such chapter authorizes you to administer those phases of the hospital survey and construction act.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            In our opinion chapter 70.40 RCW does authorize your department to carry out the survey to determine the need for and to administer those phases of the hospital survey and construction act with reference to treatment or diagnostic centers, chronic disease hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and nursing home facilities.  All other opinions heretofore issued by this office in conflict herewith are hereby overruled.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             We think it will be helpful and in the interest of clarity if we review, to a limited extent at least, the legislative history of the Federal and Washington acts involved.

             On August 13, 1946, there was approved Public Law 725 of the seventy-ninth Congress entitled the "Hospital Survey and Construction Act," being Title 42 U.S.C., § 291 to 291n, inclusive.

             This act allowed the surgeon general of the United States to make grants of funds appropriated to those states making application if the states applying fulfilled certain conditions precedent, among which were:  That there must be a single state agency designated as the sole agency to carry out the survey and construction purposes of the Federal act; that there must be a state advisory council composed of certain classes of groups and individuals; and that machinery for the making of inventories and surveys must be set up in conformity with the Federal act and regulations thereunder.

             The Washington legislature, by chapter 197, Laws of 1949, chapter 70.40 RCW, complied with the above‑described conditions precedent, among others, and designated the state department of health as the sole agency referred to in the Federal act.

             Section 2 (b), chapter 197, Laws of 1949, reads as follows:

             "'The Federal Act' means Public Law 725 of the 79th Congress, approved August 13, 1946, entitled the Hospital Survey and Construction Act;"

              [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            The question is, did our state legislature, by this definition, adopt Public Law 725 as a whole?  We conclude that it did not.  We find nothing in the quoted language of our statute that indicates any such intention.  Ordinarily, while statutes may be adopted without the use of any particular phraseology, there must be language which shows an intention to make the adoption.  To illustrate this we refer to chapter 25, Laws of 1909, Ex. Sess.  This chapter concerned the filling of vacancies in the office of representatives in Congress, and provided for the calling of special elections by the governor, etc., and in § 4 of said chapter 25, adopted the general election and primary election laws in the following language:

            "The general election laws and the laws relating to primary elections shall apply to the special elections herein provided for, in so far as the same are not inconsistent with this act and shall be construed with and made a part of this act for the purpose of carrying out the spirit and intent thereof."

             We find no provisions comparable to this in chapter 197.  Chapter 197 is complete.  It is clear and covers all the requirements necessary to enable the state to receive the gifts provided for in the Federal act as well as gifts and contributions from any other source.  It closely follows the Federal act which indicates to us that our legislature did not intend to adopt the Federal act by reference, but rather, used it as a model in framing our own law.  The purpose of adopting pre‑existing statutes by reference is to avoid encumbering our statute books by unnecessary repetition.  Roehl v. Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan Co., 43 Wn. (2d) 214.

             In 1954 Congress amended the Federal act (Public Law 482; 42 U.S.C.A., § 291i) and added three categories, to-wit:  (1) diagnostic treatment centers, (2) nursing home facilities, and (4) rehabilitation centers.  But since § 291i was not adopted by reference in our chapter 197, Laws of 1949, we must look to our own law to determine if its definition of hospital and its provisions concerning the acceptance of gifts are sufficiently broad to enable our state to accept the additional gifts provided by the amendment to § 291i of the Federal act.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            Our definition of hospitals, as contained in § 2 (d), chapter 197, reads as follows:

             "'Hospital' includes public health centers and general, tuberculosis, mental, chronic disease, and other types of hospitals, andrelated facilities, such as laboratories, outpatient departments, nurses' home and training facilities, and central service facilities operated in connection with hospitals;" (Emphasis supplied.)

             Section 4 (e), chapter 197, provides:

             "In carrying out the purposes of the act the Director is authorized and directed:

            ". . .

             "To accept on behalf of the state and to deposit with the State Treasurer, any grant, gift or contribution made to assist in meeting the cost of carrying out the purposes of this act, and to expend the same for such purpose: . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

             We have reviewed altogether some thirty opinions from attorney generals of other states, in which each of the writers of the opinions reached a conclusion in accord with this opinion.  In an opinion dated December 1, 1954, from the attorney general of the state of Arizona we find that the Arizona law defines hospital in identically the same words as our own statute, and also contains a provision defining the powers and duties of the superintendent which exactly duplicates paragraph (e) of § 4, chapter 197.  It was the conclusion of the attorney general of the state of Arizona that the term "related facilities" included in the definition of hospitals was sufficiently broad to cover treatment and diagnostic centers, nursing home facilities, and rehabilitation centers, and that the provision of law providing for acceptance on behalf of the state ofany grant, gift,  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] or contribution, was sufficient to authorize the acceptance of Federal aid under Public Law 725, as amended by Public Law 482.

             The same conclusion was reached by the attorney general of the state of Connecticut in an opinion dated February 8, 1955, under laws of that state which were not as broad as the laws of either Washington or Arizona.  The states of Alabama, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, none of whose laws are broader than our own, have rendered similar opinions.

             We attach no importance to the fact that amendment known as Senate Bill No. 257 was introduced in the 1955 legislature of the state of Washington and failed of enactment.  It might well have been rejected upon what we believe to be the correct grounds;i.e., that such an amendment was not necessary to enable the state department of health to receive gifts from the Federal government under the 1954 amendment to the Federal act.

             We therefore conclude that the provisions of chapter 197, Laws of 1949, are sufficiently broad to authorize the acceptance by our state department of health of any contributions made by the Federal government pursuant to the provisions of Public Law 725, as amended by Public Law 482, or any other Federal law that might be enacted in the future for the same purpose.

             We trust that the foregoing will be helpful to you.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General 

ROY C. FOX
Assistant Attorney General

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