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AGO 1952 No. 380 - August 18, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

PUBLICATION OF PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

The Secretary of State may expend public funds to publish proposed Constitutional amendments more extensively than required by the Constitution.

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                                                                 August 18, 1952

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 380

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of August 12, 1952, in which you request our opinion as to whether the secretary of state, after meeting the minimum publication requirements as established by the state constitution for the publication of proposed constitutional amendments may legally expend money for the purpose of supplementing the notice by publication in daily newspapers.

            It is our conclusion that you may legally expend public money for the purpose of making supplemental publications of the proposed constitutional amendments in daily newspapers.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            From your letter it appears that you are causing publication of four proposed constitutional amendments to be voted upon at the November 4, 1952, state general election to be made in a weekly newspaper in every county where a newspaper is published throughout the state and your question concerns the right to expend money for additional publications.

            Article XXIII, section 1 of the Constitution, which prescribes the method of making amendments, states in part:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "* * * The legislature shall also cause the amendments that are to be submitted to the people to be published for at least three months next preceding the election, in some weekly newspaper, in every county where a newspaper is published throughout the state."

            In the joint resolution proposing each of the constitutional amendments to be voted upon at the 1952 general election the legislature directed publication by language very similar to that used in the constitution.  For example, the last paragraph of House Joint Resolution No. 6 reads:

            "And Be It Further Resolved, That the secretary of state shall cause the foregoing constitutional amendment to be published for at least three months next preceding the election in a weekly newspaper in every county in the state in which such a newspaper is published."

            It will be noted that both in section 1, Article XXIII of the constitution and in the legislative resolutions the directive is for publication "at least three months."  This language states a minimum of publication and does not prescribe exactly what publication is to be made.  Since the legislature has not prescribed the exact amount of publication but only has prescribed a minimum, the determination of how extensive the publication shall be, in our opinion, rests with the officer charged with the responsibility for making it, namely the secretary of state.  We see nothing illegal in expending public money for the purpose of making publication in excess of the minimum prescribed by the constitution and the resolutions if additional publication is determined to be necessary to adequately serve the public interest and give adequate public notice of the proposed amendments.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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