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AGLO 1978 No. 3 - February 15, 1978
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ‑- FUNDS ‑- APPROPRIATIONS ‑- TRANSFER OF CERTAIN LOCAL FUNDS

RCW 43.09.210 does not prohibit the making of those fund transfers by the Department of Agriculture which are provided for in § 31, chapter 339, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess., as a condition to certain appropriations to the state Department of General Administration.

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                                                                February 15, 1978

Honorable Bob J. Mickelson
Director
Department of Agriculture
406 General Administration Bldg.
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGLO 1978 No. 3

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have made reference to so much of § 31, chapter 339, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess., as provides that, as a condition to certain appropriations to the state Department of General Administration,

            ". . .

            "(5) The Department of Agriculture shall transfer $79,000 from its local fund accounts to the motor transport account and the state treasurer shall transfer to the motor transport account $126,000 from the state general fund, $63,000 from the grain and hay inspection fund, $8,000 from the fertilizer, agricultural, mineral and lime fund, $27,000 from the accident fund, and $4,000 from the commercial feed fund.  These transfers shall be in accordance with schedules provided by the Office of Program Planning and Fiscal Management."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]   You have then asked whether, in our opinion, such a transfer of funds by the Department of Agriculture as is thus contemplated would violate the provisions of RCW 43.09.210.  We answer in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            We assume, in making the foregoing request, that you have reference, specifically, to so much of RCW 43.09.210 as provides that:

            ". . . no department, public improvement, undertaking, institution, or public service industry shall benefit in any financial manner whatever by an appropriation or fund made for the support of another."

            In our opinion, however, there are two distinct reasons for concluding that this statute would not be violated as a consequence of the fund transfers which are provided for in § 31, chapter 339, supra.  First, as we understand the transactions involved, the Department of General Administration will not be benefitting from its receipt of an appropriation or fund made for the support of the Department of Agriculture because, in turn, the Department of General Administration will be using the transferred funds for the purchase of motor vehicles for use by the Department of Agriculture.  It is true that the Department of General Administration will then charge the Department of Agriculture for the use of those vehicles.  However, that charge will include maintenance, gas, and administrative overhead plus an amount to be placed in a sinking fund to replace the vehicles in the future so that similar fund transfers will not then be required.

            Secondly, it is our opinion, in any event, that RCW 43.09.210,supra, does not constitute a legal restraint upon the legislature, itself, in transferring (or requiring the transfer of) funds from one state agency to another ‑ for it is well established that the only effective limitations on the legislature are those which are to be found in our state and federal constitutions.  See,e.g.,Clark v. Dwyer, 56 Wn.2d 425, 431, 353 P.2d 941 (1960).  Even assuming, therefore, that there might be a conflict between RCW 43.09.210 and § 31, chapter 339,supra, the result would not be an invalidation of the latter  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] provision.  Rather, assuming such a conflict, the result would simply be an implied amendment to RCW 43.09.210.  Clearly, the legislature which enacted chapter 339, supra, must be deemed to have been aware of the earlier statute.  Thurston County v. Gorton, 85 Wn.2d 133, 530 P.2d 309 (1975).  Nevertheless, it expressly provided for the fund transfers with which you are now concerned.  Therefore, it must be reasoned either that the legislature did not regard RCW 43.09.210 as being applicable ‑ a conclusion with which we agree for the reasons earlier indicated ‑ or if it did, that it determined to amend that statute, by implication, to the extent necessary to allow the transfers.  In either event, the result must be the same; i.e., a negative answer to your question as above indicated.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General


PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

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