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AGO 1955 No. 92 - June 07, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


Interim committee on fisheries established by Senate Joint Resolution 19 has no power of subpoena.

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                                                                    June 7, 1955

The Honorable Chet King
Chairman, Interim Fisheries Committee
P.O. Box 283
Raymond, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 92

Dear Sir:

            You have asked for our legal opinion upon the following question:

            "Does the Interim Committee on Fisheries have the power to issue subpoenas under the authority of Senate Joint Resolution No. 19?"

            Our answer to your question is "No".


            Our analysis is predicated upon (1) the statutory provision pertaining to the issuance of compulsory process by legislative committees as stated in RCW 44.16.010, and (2) the language of Senate Joint Resolution No. 19 pertaining to the authority of the Interim Fisheries Committee.

            RCW 44.16.010 provides that:

            "Every chairman or presiding member of any committee or joint committee of the senate or house of  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] representatives, which, by the terms of its appointment, is authorized to send for persons and papers, may, under the direction of the committee, issue compulsory process for the attendance of any witness within the state whom the committee may wish to examine."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Your attention is directed to the particular language of the above quoted statute which provides for investigations by legislative committees, when the committee is authorized"to send for persons and papers""under the terms of its appointment."

            The terms of appointment of the Interim Fisheries Committee are contained in the body of the resolution creating it.  Such resolution provides for a committee of seven members, three members from the Senate and four members from the House of Representatives, to make a study of the fisheries of the State of Washington, and to serve as legislative liaison between fisheries, power, reclamation and other industries in the development of a cooperative water use policy for the state.  The resolution authorizes the committee to negotiate with other organized groups and governmental entities in the furtherance of its duties, and provides for reimbursement of actual expenses of committee members while absent from their usual place of residence in the service of the state.  It also provides for the submission of a committee report on its proceedings for consideration by the 1957 legislative sessions of the States of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

            The resolution sets forth clearly the general power and duties of the committee, but makes no reference whatsoever to the power to "send for persons and papers."  The law of this state as enunciated in RCW 49.16.010, provides for the issuance of compulsory process by a legislative committee only when the committee has by the terms of its appointment the authority to "send for persons and papers".  Therefore, we conclude that the power to subpoena witnesses does not exist in the committee.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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