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AGO 1951 No. 149 - October 18, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

BLIND ‑- AID TO ‑- STUDENTS ATTENDING INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING ‑- PRIVATE AS WELL AS PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS

The phrase "institution of higher learning" includes both public and private institutions and payments can be made to either type of institution to carry out the provisions of the act.

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                                                                October 18, 1951

Honorable Pearl A. Wanamaker
State Superintendent
of Public Instruction
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 149

Attention:  !ttMr. G. W. Van Horn,
            Consultant on Administrative Problems

Dear Madam:

            This is in answer to your request for an opinion of this office on the following question:

            Does the phrase "institution of higher learning" as used in chapter 232, Laws of 1949, include both public and private institutions of higher learning, and can payments from the appropriation made to carry out the provisions of this act be made to either?

            Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:

            The phrase "institution of higher learning" includes both public and private institutions and payments can be made to either type of institution to carry out the provisions of the act.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 154, Laws of 1935 (Rem. Supp. § 4542-1 et seq.) provided for assistance to blind students who were attending state institutions of higher learning within the State of Washington.  Section 2 of that act provides as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "There is hereby allocated to each and every blind student attendingany state institution of higher learning within the State of Washington, a sum not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) per year, or so much thereof as may be necessary in the opinion of the board administering this act, to provide said blind student with readers and books while attending said institution of higher learning; said allocation to be made out of the moneys in the general fund not otherwise appropriated, for the purposes aforesaid."  (Emphasis supplied) (Rem. Supp. § 4542-2)

            Section 3 of the act provides that the money necessary to carry out the provisions of the act are to be distributed under the supervision of the state board of education, and further provides:

            "* * * That any portion of said annual allowance for the use of any such blind student which is unexpended for readers and books may, in the discretion of said state board, be by it used for the purpose of defraying personal living expenses of said blind student while attending said state institution of higher learning:  * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

            Section 2, chapter 154, Laws of 1935, was amended by section 2, chapter 232, Laws of 1949, to read as follows:

            "There is hereby allocated to each and every blind student attendingany institution of higher learning within the State of Washington a sum not to exceed one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) per quarter, or so much thereof as may be necessary in the opinion of the board administering this act, to provide said blind student with readers, books, recordings, recorders, or other means of reproducing and imparting ideas, while attending said institution of higher learning:  Provided, That the said institution notifies the board administering this act that it will waive tuition and laboratory fees for the said  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] blind student; said allocation to be made out of the monies in the General Fund not otherwise appropriated for the purposes aforesaid."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Section 3, chapter 154, Laws of 1935, was amended by section 3, chapter 232, Laws of 1949, to read in part as follows:

            "* * * That any portion of said annual allowance for the use of any blind student which is unexpended for readers, books and equipment may, in the discreation of said State Board, be by it used for the purpose of defraying personal living expenses of said blind student while attending said institution of higher learning:  * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

            Analysis of the changes made in chapter 154, Laws of 1935, by chapter 232, Laws of 1949, reveals that the legislature intended to broaden the application of the law to include private as well as public institutions of higher learning in its program to assist blind students who are in financial need.  Before the amendments noted herein were enacted, such assistance to blind students was clearly limited to those attending public institutions, but inasmuch as the provisions of the law as amended are free from ambiguity and the legislature is not to be presumed to do a vain or useless thing in amending a law, it is our opinion that blind assistance provided by chapter 154, Laws of 1935, as amended by chapter 232, Laws of 1949, may be provided to students in either public or private institutions of higher learning in the State of Washington, and payment may properly be made from the appropriation to a blind student who otherwise qualifies under the law and is attending either type of institution.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

JANE DOWDLE
Assistant Attorney General

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