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AGO 1951 No. 449 - February 15, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

INITIATIVE 178 ‑- EFFECTIVE DATE OF LAW ‑- AUTHORITY OF DEPARTMENT TO ESTABLISH OPERATIVE DATE.

1. Provisions of Initiative 178 became effective on December 7, 1950.

2. The Department of Social Security has the legal authority to operate under existing rules after December 7, 1950, and pending revision of the rules and regulations under Initiative 178.

3. The Department of Social Security had authority to establish January 8, 1951, as the effective date of new rules and regulations and to apply them so that determination of eligibility after January 8, 1951, and payments beginning February 1, 1951, were controlled by the new rules and regulations.

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                                                                February 15, 1951

Honorable Roderic Olzendam,Director
Department of Social Security
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 449

Attention:  !ttJack M. Wedemeyer, Assistant Director

Dear Sir:

            You have requested the opinion of this office on the following questions:

            1. When do the provisions of Initiative 178 become effective in terms of superseding the previous provisions of Initiative 172 as the law governing administration of public assistance?

            2. Did the Department have the authority to extend operations under the provisions of existing rule subsequent to the effective date of the law and pending revision of rules and operating plan?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            3. Did the Department have authority to establish January 8th as the effective date of the revised rules and regulations, and to apply them in the manner outlined in Manual Revisions 77 and 78 so that determinations of eligibility subsequent to January 8th and payments beginning February 1st for continuing cases would be controlled by the new rules and regulations?

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

            1. Provisions of Initiative 178 became effective on December 7, 1950.

            2. The Department of Social Security has the legal authority to operate under existing rules after December 7, 1950, and pending revision of the rules and regulations under Initiative 178.

            3. The Department had authority to establish January 8, 1951, as the effective date of new rules and regulations and to apply them so that determination of eligibility after January 8, 1951, and payments beginning February 1, 1951, were controlled by the new rules and regulations.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            It is our understanding that the Regional Office of the Federal Security Agency has requested legal clarification as to the effective date of Initiative 178 (chapter 1, Laws of 1951) which was approved by the voters on November 7, 1950, and the authority of the Department of Social Security to establish the operative dates as set forth in the rules and regulations of the Department.  We should like to point out, first of all, that Initiative 178 is an amendatory act.  Specifically it amends certain provisions of Initiative 172 (chapter 6, Laws of 1949) which was passed by the voters in 1948.  Under the provisions of our Constitution, an initiative becomes effective thirty days after the election.  Article II, section 1, of the Constitution provides that:

            "* * * such measures shall be in operation on and after the thirtieth day after the election at which it is approved.  * * *"

            Accordingly, the provisions of Initiative 178 became the law of the state on December 7, 1950.

            As we understand the facts in the present case, the rules and regulations under which the Department of Social Security was operating prior to November 7, 1950, were continued in effect by the Department until January 8, 1951.  For various reasons the Department of Social Security did not file  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] new rules and regulations interpreting various provisions of Initiative 178 until December 8, 1950, but technical questions could have been raised if the Department had filed rules prior to the effective date of the law.  Under section 10, chapter 6, Laws of 1949, (§ 9998-33j Rem. Supp. 1949) such rules and regulations must be filed with the Secretary of State thirty days before the effective date and accordingly, such rules and regulations did not become effective until January 8, 1951.  Such rules and regulations therefore affected most recipients beginning with the payment of grants on February 1, 1951.  In order to bridge the gap between the effective date of the law and the earliest possible date of the regulations promulgated pursuant to the law, continuation of the existing regulations would not be questioned unless they were clearly inconsistent with the provisions of Initiative 178.  The rules and regulations under which the Department operated up until January 8, 1951, were not inconsistent with the provisions of Initiative 178.  In any event, it is the opinion of this office that pending the revision of the rules and regulations by the Department and the thirty day waiting period before such rules and regulations can become effective, the Department is authorized to extend its operations under the provisions of consistent rules and regulations then in existence.

            In view of the statutory provision, supra, that rules and regulations must be on file thirty days before the effective date, and in view of the fact that the rules and regulations were not filed before December 8, 1950, the Department was authorized to establish January 8, 1951, as the effective date of such rules and regulations.

            Accordingly, you are advised that it is the opinion of this office that the Department of Social Security had legal authority to continue to operate under the provisions and rules and regulations existing prior to the effective date of Initiative 178, and the Department had the authority to establish January 8, 1951, as the effective date of the revised rules and regulations.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

JANE DOWDLE
Assistant Attorney General

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