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AGO 1955 No. 45 - March 24, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

ELECTIONS ‑- SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- EXCESS LEVY ‑- TOTAL VOTE REQUIRED FOR VALIDITY.

A school district election authorizing an excess levy is valid if the total vote was at least 40% of the vote at the last regular school district election.

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                                                                  March 24, 1955 

Honorable W. R. Cole
Prosecuting Attorney
Kittitas County
Courthouse
Ellensburg, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 45

 Dear Sir:

             You have requested the opinion of this office as to the validity of a school district election which authorized excess millage, assuming the applicability of RCW 84.52.052, as last amended by section 1, chapter 93, Laws of 1955 (House Bill 201), which was signed into law on March 7, 1955, and bore an emergency clause making it effective immediately.

             The vote in the district was less than forty per cent of the vote therein at the last state general election.  No school district election was held at the time of the state general election.  The vote in the district was more than forty per cent of the vote therein at the last general school district election.

             In our opinion, the election in question was valid.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             RCW 84.52.052, up to 1953, contained only the following proviso:

             "Provided, That the total number of persons voting at such special election must constitute not less than forty percent of the voters in said taxing district who voted at the last preceding general state election."

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            By section 1, chapter 189, Laws of 1953, a second proviso was added, as follows:

             "Provided further, That the total number of persons voting on an excess levy for current operating purposes at any such special election of any school district prior to November 3, 1954, must constitute not less than forty percent of the voters in said taxing district who voted at the last preceding general election in such district."

             These election requirements are stated in the statute pursuant to subdivision (a) of the 17th Amendment, Article VII, section 2, which requires a vote by forty per cent of those electors voting at the "last preceding general election."  In AGO 51-53 No. 479 [[to O.H. Olson, State Representative on February 6, 1953]], a copy of which is attached, we held that a regular school district election was such a general election, since it is required to be held on a fixed date recurring at regular intervals.

             The 1953 amendment of RCW 84.52.052 made no substantial change except to add the second proviso.  That addition was clearly intended, particularly in the light of AGO 51-53 No. 479 [[to O. H. Olson, State Representative on February 6, 1953]]which immediately preceded it, to make in the light of AGO 51-53 No. 479 which immediately preceded it, to make the last general school district election, rather than the last state general election, the basis for the forty per cent test against which the validity of an excess levy election in a school district was to be measured.  There would of course have been no need for the second proviso had the legislature intended that the last general state election should continue to be the basis for the forty per cent test in so far as school districts might be concerned.

             Chapter 93, Laws of 1955, does not alter the first proviso.  The only changes in the second proviso are the substitutions of "school district" for "current operating" and of "November 7, 1956" for "November 3, 1954".  The first change is not relevant here.  The second is relevant only to the extent that the force of the second proviso is renewed from the effective date of the statute, March 7th, 1955.

             The legislative intent therefore remains the same in this respect.  A school district excess levy election pursuant to RCW 84.52.052 is valid if at least  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] forty per cent of those voting at the last general school district election voted therein.

             Since the vote at the election in question was more than forty per cent of that registered in the last regular school district election, we conclude that the election was valid.

             We hope the foregoing analysis will prove helpful to you.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General 

A. J. HUTTON, JR.
Assistant Attorney General

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