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AGO 1951 No. 054 - May 25, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ‑- CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES ‑- STATUTES ‑- SUFFICIENCY OF TITLE.

Chapter 236, Laws of 1951 is unconstitutional as to section 5 inasmuch as the subject of that section is not germane to, nor included in, the title.

Chapter 115, Laws of 1951, complies with all constitutional requirements and requires you to make the disbursements set forth therein.

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

                                                                   May 25, 1951

Honorable A. M. Johnson, Director
Department of Labor and Industries
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 54

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of May 8, 1951 you call our attention to the inconsistent provisions of section 1, chapter 115, Laws of 1951, and section 5, chapter 236, Laws of 1951, and ask which section you should be guided by.

            You are advised:

            Chapter 236, Laws of 1951 is unconstitutional as to section 5 only, inasmuch as the subject of that section is not germane to, nor included in, the title.

            Chapter 115, Laws of 1951, complies with all constitutional requirements and requires you to make the disbursements set forth therein.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The title to both chapters includes the words "* * * amending sections 51.32.050 * * *," but this is not sufficient, as section 19 of Article II of the constitution of the State of Washington requires that the subject shall be expressed in the title.

            Blalock v. Condon, 51 Wash. 604, 99 Pac. 733

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Chapter 236, (according to the title) is "An Act relating to labor and industries; * * *"

            Words in a title must be taken in their common and ordinary meanings, as the legislature cannot, in the body of an act, impose another or unusual meaning upon a term used in the title without disclosing such special meaning in the title.

            Petroleum Lease Properties v. Huse, 195 Wash. 254, 80 P. (2d) 774, 87 A.L.R. 42

            Webster gives the nouns "Labor" and "Industry" as being synonymous and having well understood meanings.  He did not, however, consider that either of these words covered compensation which flowed from labor, nor do we.

            The word "Labor" used in the title of an act, (applying the rule of liberal construction), would sustain provisions relating to many subjects, including, among others, safety and health provisions, child labor, hours of work, occupational diseases (section 1, chapter 236, Laws of 1951), establishment of classes (section 2, chapter 236, Laws of 1951), amounts of premium to be paid (section 3, chapter 236, Laws of 1951), requirements as to notice (section 4, chapter 236, Laws of 1951), various requirements of employers and the Department of Labor and Industries, (sections 6 and 7, chapter 236, Laws of 1951).

            Since the enactment of chapter 74, Laws of 1911, the legislature has practically every session passed an act relating to the compensation of workmen.  In each and every instance the title to such acts plainly stated that the act related either to workmen's compensation or industrial insurance.  The title to the bill which became chapter 115, Laws of 1951, contains a reference to both industrial insurance and workmen's compensation, and is good.

            The most astute legislator could not discover, from a reading of the title to the bill which became chapter 236, that there was included in the body of that bill an attempt to amend a small portion of the workmen's compensation act, which was being comprehensively considered in another bill, under a proper title and which ultimately became chapter 115, Laws of 1951.

            The act does not, therefore, satisfy the constitutional requirement.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Potter v. Whatcom Co., 138 Wash. 571, 245 Pac. 11;

            DeCano v. State, 7 Wn. (2d) 613, 110 P. (2d) 627;

            Cory v. Nethery, 19 Wn. (2d) 326, 142 P. (2d) 488; 37 A.L.R. 927; 50 Am.Jur. 298;

            State ex rel. Toll B. etc. v. Yelle, 32 Wn. (2d) 13, 200 P. (2d) 467; 62 A.L.R. 1349; 50 Am.Jur. 173

            You will disregard section 5, chapter 236, Laws of 1951, and be governed by section 1, chapter 115, Laws of 1951.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

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