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AGO 1953 No. 98 - July 23, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

TRANSFER OF OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE ACCIDENT AND MEDICAL AID FUNDS TO INDUSTRIAL INSURANCE AND MEDICAL AID FUNDS

There is no constitutional or statutory prohibition which would bar a transfer of the occupational disease accident and occupational disease medical aid funds to the industrial insurance and medical aid funds in proportion to the contributions made by the respective industrial classes.

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                                                                    July 23, 1953

Honorable A. M. Johnson
Director
Department of Labor & Industries
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 98

Dear Mr. Johnson:

            This is to acknowledge your letter of July 7, 1953, wherein you have requested an opinion from this office and from which we quote:

            "For a number of years the Department has maintained accounts for the occupational disease accident fund and the occupational disease medical aid fund.  As a result of the enactment of Chapter 135, Laws of 1939, these funds have been inactive since June 7, 1939.  The amount remaining in the occupational disease accident fund is $17,465.42 and in the occupational disease medical aid fund, $177,448.90.

            "We would like to have an opinion from your office as to whether these funds could properly be transferred from occupational disease funds in proportion to the contribution, which was made to such funds, from the respective industrial classes of the accident and medical aid funds."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

            There is no constitutional or statutory prohibition which would bar a transfer of the occupational disease accident and occupational disease medical aid funds to the industrial insurance and medical aid funds in proportion to the contributions made by the respective industrial classes.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 212, Laws of 1937, amended section 2 of chapter 132, Laws of 1929, § 7679 Rem. Rev. Stat. by adding a new section thereto to be known as § 7679-1 to read as follows:

            "Section 7679-1. Compensation shall be payable for disabilities sustained or death incurred by an employee resulting from the following occupational diseases:"

            Then follows a list of diseases acquired in different occupations for which compensation may be paid.

            The last proviso contained in chapter 212, Laws of 1937, is as follows:

            "* * *Provided, however, That the increased cost in carrying out the provisions of this act shall be borne equally by employer and employee."

            Following the foregoing enactment this office in an opinion dated May 6, 1937, approved the creation of the occupational disease funds.

            Chapter 135, Laws of 1939, which amended chapter 212, Laws of 1937, did not require that the cost of administering the occupational disease provisions should be borne equally by the employer and employee.

            Chapter 235, Laws of 1941, amended chapter 135, Laws of 1939, and insofar as material to a determination of the question involved herein is as follows:

            "Section 2. The compensation and benefits provided for occupational diseases shall be paid from the same fund and in the same manner as compensation and benefits for injuries under the industrial insurance and medical aid acts and the contributions of employers  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] to pay therefor shall be determined, assessed and collected in the same manner and as a part of the premiums for extra-hazardous employment."

            By virtue of the subsequent amendments to chapter 212, Laws of 1937, compensation benefits for occupational diseases were paid directly from the accident and medical aid funds and the surplus remaining in the occupational disease funds remained dormant.  These funds were acquired by a levy of one mill per workman hour from the employer and one mill per workman hour from the employee.  Inasmuch as these contributions were assessed against the respective industrial classes of the Workmen's Compensation Act, we have not been able to find any constitutional or statutory prohibition which would bar a transfer of the occupational disease funds to their proper source.

            It is, therefore, our conclusion that the moneys remaining in the occupational disease accident and medical aid funds may be transferred to the industrial insurance and medical aid funds in proportion to the contributions made by the respective industrial classes under the Workmen's Compensation Act.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

BERNARD A. JOHNSON
Assistant Attorney General

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