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AGO 1953 No. 157 - October 29, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

CITIES AND TOWNS ‑- REGULAR AND SPECIAL MEETINGS OF LEGISLATIVE BODIES ‑- ADJOURNED OR RECESSED MEETINGS ‑- NOTICE TO PRESS, RADIO AND TELEVISION.

1. When a legislative body of a city or town recesses or adjourns a regular meeting of such body to a specific time and place, such body may reconvene such continued meeting without notifying the press, radio or television.

2. Where notice of a special meeting of the legislative body of a city or town has been given to press, radio and television, and such meeting is recessed or adjourned to a time certain, the body may reconvene such continued meeting without again notifying the press, radio or television.

3. The notice provisions of chapter 216, Laws of 1953, do not impliedly repeal that part of RCW 35.24.180 which prohibits a city of the third class from passing ordinances letting contracts or allowing bills for the payment of money at special meetings of the legislative body.

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                                                                October 29, 1953

Honorable Donald H. Webster,Director
Bureau of Governmental Research and Service
266 J. Allen Smith Hall
University of Washington
Seattle 5, Washington                                                                                                   Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 157

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of October 7, 1953, in which you ask for an opinion concerning several specific municipal matters in relation to chapter 216, Laws of 1953.  Your questions are as follows:

            1. May the legislative body in any city or town adjourn a regular meeting of such legislative body and hold the adjourned meeting without giving public notice thereof to the press pursuant to chapter 216, Laws of 1953?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            2. May the legislative body in any city or town recess a regular meeting and resume the meeting after the recess without such notification as to the resumed meeting?

            3. Would the answers to one and two above be the same with reference tospecial meetings?

            4. Does the period of time involved in the adjournment or recess have any bearing on these questions?

            5. Does chapter 216, Laws of 1953, impliedly repeal that part of RCW 35.24.180 which prohibits a city of the third class from passing ordinances letting contracts, or allowing bills for the payment of money at special meetings of the legislative body?

            In our opinion these questions may be answered as follows:

            1. Yes.

            2. Yes.

            3. Yes, provided that the notice to the press as to the original special meeting was adequate.

            4. No, so long as the adjournment is to a day and time certain.

            5. No.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 1, chapter 216, Laws of 1953, provides in part as follows:

            "No board, commission, agency or authority of the state of Washington, nor the governing board, commission, agency or authority of any political subdivision exercising legislative, regulatory or directive powers, shall adopt any ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, order or directive, except in a meeting open to the public and then only at a meeting, the date of which is fixed by law or rule, or at a  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] meeting of which public notice has been given by notifying press, radio and television in the county and by such other means as may now or hereafter be provided by law:  * * *"

            RCW 35.24.180 and RCW 35.27.270 provides that the legislative bodies of third and fourth class cities shall meet at least once each month at such times as may be fixed by ordinance.  RCW 35.23.260 requires legislative bodies in cities of the second class to meet at least once every three weeks at such times as fixed by ordinance.  It is evident that regular meetings of these bodies do not require notice to the press under the provisions of chapter 216, Laws of 1953, since the dates of such meetings are "fixed by law or rule."

            An "adjourned meeting" of a deliberative assembly is legally the continuation of the meeting of which it is an adjournment.  Strain v. Mins, 193 Atl. 754, 123 Conn. 275, 2 Words and Phrases 409.  Rem. & Bal. Code Washington section 7681 prohibited third class cities from passing any ordinance for the letting or entering into any contract or the allowance of any bill for the payment of money at any special meeting, or at any adjourned regular or special meeting of the city council.  InIntermela et al. v. Perkins, 205 Fed. 603 (1913) the issue was whether or not a certain warrant was ordered paid at an adjourned meeting so as to invalidate the warrant.  The court held that an adjournment from day to day, where impelled by the business at hand, was not inimical to the above statute.  The court observed that the purpose of the prohibition in this statute was to provide notice to interested persons and to the public.  The resolution fixing the time of the adjourned meeting was deemed adequate to safeguard the public interest in being notified.  The court defined a "recessed meeting" as one in which the session was continued until later the same day.  An "adjourned meeting" was said to be one in which the meeting was continued for a longer period.

            It appears significant that in 1915 the legislature repealed Rem. & Bal. Code section 7681.  RCW 35.24.180, as derived from section 10, chapter 184, Laws of 1915, which repealed and replaced that provision, makes no reference whatever to adjourned meetings.

            We conclude that the adjourned session of the regular meeting does not come within the notice provisions of chapter 216, Laws of 1953, because it is but a continuation of a meeting which required no notice and because the public  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] interest in being notified has been safeguarded by the resolution fixing the time and place of the continued session.  We are of the opinion that the same reasons indicate the same response to your inquiry concerning "recessed regular meetings."

            Special meetings of legislative bodies of cities and towns require compliance with the notice provisions of chapter 216, Laws of 1953.  Since the business which may be transacted in special meetings is limited by statute, we are of the opinion that the public interest in being notified is adequately safeguarded by the original notice of the special meeting and the resolution ordering such special meeting adjourned or recessed until a time certain.  Hence we conclude that such continued sessions do not fall within the purview of chapter 216, Laws of 1953.  Nor do we feel that the period of time involved in the recess or adjournment is significant.  The statutes require that regular meetings be held at maximum intervals of one month.  Even in cities in which the ordinance provides for monthly meetings, an adjourned meeting would be convened at a time somewhat in advance of the next regular meeting.  The precise time of the adjourned or recessed meeting is not so significant as the fact that the time of reconvening must be precisely fixed.

            We can find no basis for the proposition that chapter 216, Laws of 1953, has impliedly repealed that portion of RCW 35.23.260 which limits the transactions which may be passed upon at a special meeting of the governing body of a third class city.  Admittedly, the legislative purpose underlying each of these statutes is that certain types of legislation require notice to interested persons and the public.  We do not conceive that the notice requirements of chapter 216, Laws of 1953, are so effective and comprehensive as to nullify the necessity of the prohibitions contained in RCW 35.23.260.  An examination of the 1953 act discloses several particulars in which it may fail to achieve the legislative purposes of providing notice.  This statute requires that press, radio and television in the county must be notified, but there is no assurance that any of these instrumentalities will publish such notice.  Furthermore, the statute is silent as to the time within which such notice must be given.

            InState ex rel. Reed v. Spanaway Water District, 38 Wn. (2d) 393, the court said:

            "'Repeals by implication are ordinarily not favored in law, and a later act will not operate to repeal an earlier act except in such instances where * * * the two acts are so clearly inconsistent with, and repugnant to, each other that they cannot, by a fair and  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] reasonable construction, be reconciled and both given effect.  * * *"

            Obviously, the mere fact that the two statutes are designed to accomplish, by different means, the same general legislative purpose does not render them inconsistent or repugnant to each other.  We conclude that cities of the third class must continue to comply with RCW 35.24.180.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

ANDY ENGEBRETSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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