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AGO 1951 No. 444 - February 05, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

STATE DEPARTMENTS ‑- PRINCIPAL OFFICES ‑- MAINTENANCE OF OUTSIDE STATE CAPITAL.

State departments which derive their present status from the Administrative Code are required to maintain their principal offices in the State Capital.

This requirement applies to the Department of Public Institutions, Health, Conservation and Development, Labor and Industries, Agriculture, Licenses and the Department of Highways.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                 February 5, 1951

Honorable Charlie Johnson
Member, House of Representatives
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 444

Dear Sir:

            By letter of January 28, 1951, you request our opinion as to the legality of housing the principal offices of state departments in locations other than the capital city of Olympia.

            Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:

            All state departments which derive their present status from the Administrative Code are required to maintain their principal offices at the State Capital.  This requirement applies to the departments of Public Institutions, Health, Conservation and Development, Labor and Industries, Agriculture, Licenses and to the Department of Highways.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 20 of the Administrative Code, chapter 7, Laws of 1921 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 10778) is as follows:

            "Eachdepartment created by this act shall maintain its principal office at the state capital in rooms provided by the department of  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] business control.  The director of each department may, with the approval of the governor, establish and maintain branch offices at other places than the state capital for the conduct of one or more of the functions of his department."  (Emphasis supplied).

            It will be noted that only departments created by the act setting up the Administrative Code are subject to the requirement.  It does not apply to boards, commissions, etc., nor does it, in our opinion, apply to departments created and organized under special administrative acts which are not directly amendatory of the Administrative Code.

            Section 2 of the Administrative Code as last amended by section 1, chapter 176, Laws of 1935 (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 10760) provides that:

            "There shall be, and are hereby created, departments of the state government which shall be known respectively as (1) the department of public service, (2) the department of public welfare, (3) the department of finance, budget and business, (4) the department of health, (5) the department of conservation and development, (6) the department of labor and industries, (7) the department of agriculture, (8) the department of licenses, (9) the department of fisheries, (10) the department of game, and (11) the department of highways * * *".

            The Department of Public Service has been replaced by the Washington Public Service Commission, created under chapter 117, Laws of 1949 (10964115-1 et seq., Rem. Supp. 1949).  The Department of Public Welfare has been replaced by the Department of Social Security, as created and organized under chapter 111, Laws of 1937 (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 10760-2 et seq.).  The Department of Fisheries in its present status was created and organized under the Fisheries Code of the State of Washington as enacted by chapter 112, Laws of 1949 (57800-200 et seq., Rem. Supp. 1949).  The Department of Game, as it is now constituted, was set up under the Game Code of the State of Washington, chapter 275, Laws of 1947 (5992-11 et seq., Rem. Supp. 1947).

            All of the foregoing changes in the departments referred to in and created by the Administrative Code have been effected by special legislative enactments, none of which are direct amendments to the Administrative Code.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Inasmuch as the requirement of Section 20 of the Administrative Code is, in our opinion, limited to those remaining departments which were created by that particular act, we conclude that the departments of the State Government which may not legally maintain their principal offices outside the Capital, are the Departments of Public Institutions (Department of Business Control re‑designated [[redesignated]]as that of Public Institutions by section 5, chapter 114, Laws of 1947 (10786-10C, Rem. Supp. 1947), Health, Conservation and Development, Labor and Industries, Agriculture, Licenses, and the Department of Highways.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

FRED L. HARLOCKER
Assistant Attorney General

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