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AGO 1953 No. 5 - April 13, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

POWERS OF GOVERNOR ‑- VETO ‑- LEGISLATIVE POWER ‑- CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ‑- EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF LEGISLATURE.

The call of a special extraordinary session of the legislature does not deprive the Governor of his constitutional power to veto bills within ten days after presentment to him and after adjournment of the legislature when the general adjournment of the legislature has prevented the return within the five‑day period.

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                                                                    April 13, 1953 

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 5

 Dear Sir:

             We acknowledge receipt of your inquiry whether the calling of the extraordinary session of the legislature within eleven hours of the adjournment of the regular session of the 33rd legislature restricts the Governor to a 5-day period, except Sundays, to veto acts passed by the regular session of the legislature rather than the ten days provided in Article III, section 12, of the Constitution, when the general adjournment of the legislature shall prevent return of a bill.

             Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

             The call of a special extraordinary session of the legislature does not deprive the Governor of his constitutional power to veto bills within ten days after presentment to him and after adjournment of the legislature when the general adjournment of the legislature has prevented the return within the 5-day period.  Therefore, any bills of the regular session of the legislature vetoed in whole, or in part, by the Governor after March 19, 1953, and within the 10-day period, constitute a valid exercise of the Governor's constitutional powers.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             The calling of a special extraordinary session after adjournment of the regular session does not, in our opinion, in any way alter, modify or restrict the Governor's veto power given to him under the provisions of Article III, section 12, of the Constitution.

             The veto power given the Governor under Article III, section 12, is a legislative power and not an executive power.  Gottstein v. Lister, 88 Wash. 462; Ferguson v. Russell, 270 Ill. 304, 110 N.E. 130.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The power to call a special session of the legislature is an executive power vested in the Governor by the Constitution.  It, therefore, logically follows that the Governor cannot, by exercise of his executive power, restrict, limit, modify or extend any legislative power that may be given to him or the legislative branch of the government.

             This best can be emphasized by calling attention to the rationale of the Illinois Supreme Court in an early case,People v. Hatch, 33 Ill. 9, at page 136, and cited with approval in the case ofPeople v. Hughes, (Ill.) 25 N.E. (2d) 75, in which the court, referring to the Governor's veto power, stated:

             "'. . . As the best means of accomplishing this, and of preventing the adoption of injurious measures, they (the framers of the constitution) gave to the governor ten days, exclusive of Sundays, in which to bestow that careful examination and consideration, so essentially necessary to determine the effects and consequences likely to flow from the adoption of a new measure.  This is the duty imposed, and it is one that must be performed.  And the time allowed for the purpose cannot be abridged, or the provision thwarted, by either accident or design.  The use of the whole time given to the governor must be allowed. . . .'"

             This interpretation, in our opinion, must be considered in construing the effect of the special session of the legislature upon the Governor's power under Article III, section 12 of the State Constitution.  We believe the Washington State Constitutional Convention, in adopting this provision, was giving consideration to the mechanics involved in the introduction, presentment, enrollment, engrossment and passage of the bills presented to the chief executive of the state.

             The particular reason for this can be seen when we analyze the actions of the recent adjournment of the session of the 33rd legislature.  There were presented to the Governor for his approval or disapproval 301 bills which had been enrolled, engrossed and passed by both houses of the legislature.  Of those 301 bills, 78 were presented to the Governor within the first 55 days of the session.  The remaining 223 bills, including important bills such as the appropriation act, Lake Washington bridge, toll road between Tacoma and Everett, and the social security bill, were presented to the Governor within the last five days of the session, and further, 185 of them were presented on the last day of the regular session.  It therefore appears very obvious that the Governor, with 70% of the bills presented to him within the last five days, and many of them of great importance to the public, must have time to study and consider these bills.  The most important bills are frequently passed in the dying days of the session because they are bills that have been given time and consideration by the members of the legislature and they are given careful consideration because of their importance to the people of the state.  They must be given the same careful consideration by the Governor.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            In your request for our opinion our special attention has been directed to the phrase "shall prevent its return."  In our opinion this language in the Constitution contemplates the return of a bill to the originating house ofthe session in which the bill was introduced and passed.  It does not mean to the next session of the legislature.

             We are happy to render this opinion to you within ten days of the time of your request because we know it is of special concern to you and your office.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

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