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AGLO 1974 No. 22 - February 22, 1974
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- GOVERNOR ‑- LEGISLATURE ‑- SECRETARY OF STATE ‑- VETO ‑- EFFECTIVE DATE OF BILL PARTIALLY VETOED BY GOVERNOR DURING LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Where during a legislative session and prior to the general adjournment thereof a bill not subject to referendum and bearing an immediate effective date is partially vetoed by the governor, the remainder of the bill takes effect immediately and the secretary of state is required to record it and assign it a chapter number under RCW 44.20.020.

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                                                                February 22, 1974

Honorable A. Ludlow Kramer
Secretary of State
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1974 No. 22

Attention:  Mr. Kenneth N. Gilbert
            Deputy Secretary of State

Dear Sir:

            This is written in response to your request for our opinion on the following two questions:

            (1) Where, during a legislative session and prior to the general adjournment thereof a bill not subject to referendum and bearing an immediate effective date is passed and presented to the governor under Article III, § 12 of the state Constitution, and the governor then partially vetoes it and returns it to the house of origin for reconsideration of the portion vetoed, does the remainder of the bill take effect immediately or is its effectiveness thereby delayed until the legislature acts upon the vetoed portion?

            (2) If the remainder (i.e., the unvetoed portion) of the bill takes effect immediately in the situation described above, is the Secretary of State then required to record it and assign it a chapter number under RCW 44.20.020?

            Our answer to question (1) is that the unvetoed portion of a bill such as is therein described takes effect immediately, and our answer to question (2) is in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            As indicated in AGO 1973 No. 8 [[to Arthur C. Brown, State Representative on March 6, 1973]], copy enclosed, bills passed by the legislature whichare subject to referendum  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] under Article II, § 1 (Amendment 7) of our state Constitution do not take effect until ninety days after the final adjournment,sinedie, of the legislative session at which they were enacted.  Bills not subject to referendum, on the other hand, may take effect immediately upon being approved by the governor under Article III, § 12 of the Constitution if the legislature so provides.

            Under this section of the Constitution, however, the governor may, instead of approving a bill presented to him by the legislature, veto it‑-either in its entirety or in part‑-as will be seen from the following text thereof:

            "Every act which shall have passed the legislature shall be, before it becomes a law, presented to the governor.  If he approves, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to that house in which it shall have originated, which house shall enter the objections at large upon the journal and proceed to reconsider.  If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of the members present shall agree to pass the bill it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other house, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of the members present, it shall become a law; but in all such cases the vote of both houses shall be determined by the yeas and nays, and the names of the members voting for or against the bill shall be entered upon the journal of each house respectively.  If any bill shall not be returned by the governor within five days, Sundays excepted, after it shall be presented to him, it shall become a law without his signature, unless the general adjournment shall prevent its return, in which case it shall become a law unless the governor, within ten days next after the adjournment, Sundays excepted, shall file such bill with his objections thereto, in the office of secretary of state, who shall lay the same before the legislature at its next session in like manner as if it had been  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] returned by the governor.  If any bill presented to the governor contain several sections or items, he may object to one or more sections or items while approving other portions of the bill.  In such case he shall append to the bill, at the time of signing it, a statement of the section, or sections; item or items to which he objects and the reasons therefor, and the section or sections, item or items so objected to, shall not take effect unless passed over the governor's objection, as hereinbefore provided."

            Question (1):

            Your first question involves the status of the unvetoed portions of a bill not subject to referendum and bearing an immediate effective date during the time between its return to the house of origin for reconsideration of the vetoed portion and the legislature's action (or inaction) thereon.  You ask whether these unvetoed portions of the bill are effective as law during that time.  In our opinion they are.

            The critical language of Article III, § 12, supra, is contained in its final clause which states that in the event of a partial veto,

            ". . . the section or sections, item or items so objected to, shall not take effect unless passed over the governor's objection, as hereinbefore provided."

            The clear implication to be drawn from this language is that the remainder of the bill, not having been vetoed, becomes effective without any necessity for further action by the legislature.  Accord,State ex rel. Ruoff v. Rosellini, 55 Wn.2d 554, 348 P.2d 971 (1960), wherein the Washington court in upholding the then governor's partial veto of an act of the 1959 legislature increasing the salaries of the elective state officials, said:

            "We hold that the bracketed language in the act, which was vetoed by the governor,  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] constitutes an item within the purview of Art. III, § 12, of the state constitution.  It, therefore, follows that the veto was valid as to that item, and that the remainder of the chapter is valid as passed by the legislature."  (At p. 556)

            See also,Shelton Hotel Co., Inc. v. Bates, 4 Wn.2d 498, 506, 104 P.2d 478 (1940), andState ex rel. Stiner v. Yelle, 174 Wash. 402, 408, 25 P.2d 91 (1933).  Moreover it matters not, in our judgment, whether the partial veto occurs prior to the general adjournment of the legislature so as to cause the bill to be immediately returned to its house of origin, or afterward so as to result in the bill being first filed with the secretary of state and then by him being laid before the legislature at its next session.  In either case, the unvetoed portion of the bill will be effective as law immediately, if it so provides and is not subject to referendum; or 90 days after final adjournment of the session at which it was enacted if it is so subject.

            Question (2):

            Assuming this answer, you have next inquired as to the proper action to be taken by your office with respect to such a partially vetoed bill.  We believe that the answer to this question is to be found in the following provisions of RCW 44.20.020:

            "Whenever any bill shall become a law the secretary of state shall number such bill in the order in which it became a law, commencing with each session of the legislature, and shall forthwith certify and deliver three copies of such bill to the statute law committee.  Such number shall be in Arabic numerals, and shall be the chapter number of the act when published.  A citation to the chapter number and year of the session laws heretofore or hereafter published shall be a sufficient reference to the act so designated."

            In the situation contemplated by your inquiry the unvetoed portion of the bill will have become law, and as such, it will be your duty to number it and then forthwith  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] to certify and deliver three copies of it to the statute law committee.  In those cases where, because of the general adjournment of the legislature, it has been filed with your office under Article III, § 12 of the Constitution, of course, the physical performance of these responsibilities can be readily accomplished by reference to the document itself, as sent to you by the governor.  On the other hand, where the bill is returned directly to its house of origin because the legislature is still in session, you will have to look either to the governor or that house for a certified copy of what has actually been approved or vetoed by the governor‑-although, as you know, you will have previously been provided with your own certified copy of the enrolled bill as passed by the legislature by virtue of RCW 44.20.010 which provides that:

            "Whenever any bill shall have passed both houses, the house transmitting the enrolled bill to the governor shall also file with the secretary of state the engrossed bill, together with the history of such bill up to the time of transmission to the governor."

            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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