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AGLO 1974 No. 24 - March 01, 1974
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

INITIATIVE NO. 276 ‑- ADMINISTRATIVE CODE ‑- OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- WOMEN'S COUNCIL

(1) The term "state agency" as used in RCW 42.17.250 includes, in addition to all of the various statutory state boards and commissions, such nonstatutory boards as the Washington state women's council.

(2) While the descriptive rule contemplated by RCW 34.04.020 (2), the state administrative procedures act, is among the items covered by RCW 42.17.250, it is not the only thing which state agencies are required to publish by reason of that section of Initiative No. 276.

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                                                                   March 1, 1974

Honorable Gary Grant
State Senator, 11th District
25823 132nd S.E.
Kent, Washington 98031                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1974 No. 24

Dear Sir:

            This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on certain questions pertaining to the publication of procedures by state agencies under RCW 42.17.250.  We paraphrase your questions as follows:

            (1) Does the term "state agency," as used in RCW 42.17.250, include, in addition to all of the various statutory state boards and commissions, such nonstatutory boards as the Washington State Women's Council?

            (2) Is the material required by RCW 42.17.250 to be published in the Washington Administrative Code by each state agency the same material as is required to be included in the rule referred to in RCW 34.04.020(2)?

            We answer question (1) in the affirmative and question (2) in the manner set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 42.17.250 codifies the provisions of § 25 of Initiative Measure No. 276.  This particular section reads as follows:

            "(1) Each state agency shall separately state and currently publish in the Washington Administrative Code and each local agency shall prominently display and make available for inspection and copying at the central office of such local agency, for guidance of the public:

            "(a) Descriptions of its central and field organization and the established places at which, the employees from whom, and the methods whereby, the public may obtain information, make submittals or requests, or obtain copies of agency decisions;

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "(b) Statements of the general course and method by which its operations are channeled and determined, including the nature and requirements of all formal and informal procedures available;

            "(c) Rules of procedure;

            "(d) Substantive rules of general applicability adopted as authorized by law, and statements of general policy or interpretations of general applicability formulated and adopted by the agency; and

            "(e) Each amendment or revision to, or repeal of any of the foregoing.

            "(2) Except to the extent that he has actual and timely notice of the terms thereof, a person may not in any manner be required to resort to, or be adversely affected by, a matter required to be published or displayed and not so published or displayed."

            Question (1):

            In order to determine the scope of the term "state agency" as used in this provision, we must look to the definition of that term which appears in § 2(1) of the initiative‑- now codified as RCW 42.17.020(1).  As there defined, this term includes:

            ". . . every state office, public official, department, division, bureau, board, commission or other state agency. . . ."

            A plain reading of this language indicates no distinction between those state agencies which have been created by statute and those that have been established in some other manner ‑ such as by an executive order of the governor, as is the case with respect to the Washington State Women's Council.  Accordingly, we believe that your first question, as above paraphrased, is answerable in the affirmative.

            Question (2):

            Your second question also involves RCW 42.17.250, supra, and asks whether the material which is required to be published by state agencies under that section of Initiative No. 276 is the same as is required to be included in the rule that such agencies are required to adopt by virtue of RCW 34.04.020(2).

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            RCW 34.04.020(2) is a part of the state administrative procedures act and reads as follows:

            "(2) To assist interested persons dealing with it, each agency shall adopt as a rule a description of its organization, stating the general course and method of its operations and the methods whereby the public may obtain information and make submissions or requests.  No person shall be required to comply with agency procedure not adopted as a rule as herein required."

            From a comparison of this statutory language with that of RCW 42.17.250,supra, it will readily be seen that while the descriptive rule contemplated by RCW 34.04.020(2),supra, is among the items covered by RCW 42.17.250, it is not the only thing which "state agencies" are required to publish by reason of that section of Initiative No. 276.

            We trust that the foregoing sufficiently answers the questions set forth in your request.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General

ROBERT F. HAUTH
Assistant Attorney General

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