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AGO 1951 No. 483 - March 30, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOL BOND ISSUE.

It is probably unnecessary for the Legislature to reappropriate at the 1951 special session, the funds appropriated under section 3 of chapter 229, Laws of 1949, but such reappropriation is recommended as a precautionary measure.

The Legislature may not, at the 1951 special session, make any change in the provisions of chapter 229, Laws of 1949, passed by Referendum vote on November 7, 1950, nor may any changes be made in the manner in which the proceeds of the bond issue therein authorized, may be expended.

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                                                                  March 30, 1951

Honorable Julia Butler Hansen
Representative
House of Representatives
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 483

Dear Madam:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of March 28, in which you asked our opinion on the two following questions:

            "1. Is it necessary for the State Legislature at this special session, to reappropriate the funds appropriated under Section 3, Chapter 229, Laws of 1949, which became law on December 7, 1950?

            "2. Is it within the authority of the State Legislature at this special session, to amend, or in any way change, the provisions of Chapter 229, Laws of 1949, which was passed by referendum vote of the people of the state on November 7, 1950?"

            Our conclusions are as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            In answer to your first inquiry, it is probably not necessary for the Legislature, at this special session, to reappropriate funds appropriated under section 3, chapter 229 of the Laws of 1949, which became law on December 7, 1950, but there is sufficient uncertainty as to the status of this appropriation, that we recommend that the amount be reappropriated.

            In answer to your second question, the Legislature, at this special session, does not have authority to amend, or in any way change, the provisions of chapter 229, of the Laws of 1949.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 229 of the Laws of 1949, is the Act which authorized sale of $40,000,000.00 worth of general obligation bonds of the state, for the purpose of furnishing funds for state assistance in providing public school plant facilities under the provisions of chapter 278, Laws of 1947.

            Section 3 of chapter 229, Laws of 1949 provides:

            "The sum of $40,000,000.00, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the public school building construction fund, to the State Finance Committee, to be expended by the Committee for the payment of expense incident to the sale and issuance of the bonds authorized herein, and through allotments made in its discretion to the State Board of Education, for the purpose of carrying out the purposes of Chapter 278, Laws of 1947."

            This statute, by the terms of section 7, required that it be submitted to the people for their adoption, and ratification or rejection, at the General Election to be held on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday in November, 1950.  It became Referendum Bill No. 7.

            At the 1950 General Election it was duly passed by a majority of the voters.

            Section 1 (d) of Article II of the State Constitution, as revised by the 7th Amendment, provides in part:

            "Such measure shall be in operation on and after the 30th day after the election at which it is approved."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            This measure then became finally effective on December 7, 1950.

            Article VIII, section 4 of the Constitution, as revised by the 11th Amendment, reads:

            "No money shall ever be paid out of the Treasury of this state or any of its funds, or any of the funds under its management, except in pursuance of an appropriation by law, nor unless such payment be made within one calendar month after the end of the next ensuing fiscal biennium.  Every such law making a new appropriation, or continuing, or reviving an appropriation, shall distinctly specify the sum appropriated, and the object to which it is to be applied, and it shall not be sufficient for such law to refer to any other law to fix such sum."  (Emphasis supplied)

            It will be noted that the section of the Constitution permits money appropriated to be expended up to the end of one calendar month after the end of the next ensuing fiscal biennium.

            Thus, if it be considered that chapter 22., Laws of 1949, was enacted when the people passed it in November, 1950, the next ensuing fiscal biennium is that beginning April 1, 1951, and ending March 31, 1953.  We believe that this is the proper construction of the law in this case and the appropriation in the act will permit money to be expended during the next biennium.  However, it will be noted that chapter 229, Laws of 1949, in section 8 provided:

            "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, the support of the State Government, and its existing public institutions, and shall take effect immediately."

            This indicates an intention by the Legislature that something should be in effect immediately upon passage by the Legislature.  Indeed, it was pursuant to some effective portion of the act that the Secretary of State advertised the proposition prior to the election, in accordance with the terms of section 3, Article VIII of the State Constitution.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            An argument might be made that the appropriation, in view of the immediate effectiveness of the statute, should be considered as having pertained to the fiscal biennium, 1949 to 1951.

            We do not agree that such a contention would be valid, but it could be raised and litigated.  Consequently, as a matter of precaution, it is our recommendation that the sum be reappropriated.

            Taking up, now, your second question:

            Chapter 229 of the Laws of 1949, in section 7, providing for submission of the measure to the people, stated that it should be submitted in accordance with the provisions of section 3 of Article VIII of the State Constitution, and in accordance with the provisions of section 1 of Article II of the Constitution, as amended.  The latter reference is the Constitutional provision relative to Referendums.

            Section 1 (c) of Article II of the Constitution, as revised by the 7th Amendment, provides in part:

            "No act, law or bill approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon shall be amended or repealed by the Legislature within a period of two years following such enactment."

            Chapter 229 of the Laws of 1949 is an act approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon.  Since it was enacted by approval of the voters on November 7, 1950, it is not subject to amendment or repeal for two years from that date.  However, another section of the Constitution should also be noticed in this connection.  This is an act providing for the incurring of a general state indebtedness.

            Section 3 of Article VIII of the Constitution provides the manner in which such indebtedness may be authorized.  It reads in part:

            "Except the debt specified in Sections one and two of this article, no debts shall hereafter be contracted by, or on behalf of this state, unless such debt shall be authorized by lawfor some single work or object, to be distinctly specified therein, which law shall provide ways and means,  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] exclusive of loans, for the payment of the interest on such debt as it falls due, and also pay and discharge the principal of such debt within twenty years from the time of the contracting thereof."  (Emphasis supplied)

            It will be noted that under the Constitution the purpose of the indebtedness had to be distinctly specified in the enactment.  This specification in chapter 229, Laws of 1949, is

            "* * * furnishing funds for state assistance in providing public school plant facilities under the provisions of Chapter 278, Laws of 1947."

            This is the only purpose for which the indebtedness can be incurred, and the only purpose for which the proceeds can be used.  This statute, in effect, adopted chapter 278, Laws of 1947, as it then existed, and made it a part, by reference, of chapter 229 of the Laws of 1949, and any change which might now be made in chapter 278 of the Laws of 1947, would not affect the application of the funds to be raised under chapter 229, Laws of 1949.

            In our opinion, this limitation is not confined to the two-year period during which a referendum measure may not be amended, but is a condition firmly attached to any proceeds of the indebtedness to be incurred pursuant to chapter 229 of the Laws of 1949.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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