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AGLO 1973 No. 41 - March 28, 1973
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

INITIATIVE NO. 276 ‑- AMENDMENT ‑- VOTE OF TWO-THIRDS OF ALL OF THE MEMBERS ELECTED TO EACH HOUSE OF THE LEGISLATURE

Senate Bill No. 2697, currently pending before the legislature, does constitute a proposed amendment to Initiative No. 276 so as to cause this bill to be subject to the restriction of Article II, § 41 (Amendment 26) of the state Constitution that no law approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon shall be subject to amendment during the first two years following its enactment except by a vote of two-thirds of all of the members elected to each house of the legislature.

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                                                                  March 28, 1973

Honorable Jack Metcalf
State Senator, 21st District
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1973 No. 41

Dear Sir:

            This is written in response to your request for an opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Does Senate Bill No. 2697, currently pending before the legislature, constitute a proposed amendment to Initiative No. 276 so as to cause this bill to be subject to the restriction of Article II, § 41 (Amendment 26) of the state Constitution that no law approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon shall be subject to amendment during the first two years following its enactment except by a vote of two-thirds of all of the members elected to each house of the legislature?

            We answer this question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Initiative No. 276, as approved by the voters at the November 7, 1972, general election, is a comprehensive enactment consisting of four major substantive chapters.  The first of these relates to electoral campaign financing and requires the disclosure of all sources of campaign contributions and the object of all such expenditures.1/   The second is designed to regulate the activities of lobbyists and to require reports of their expenditures.2/   Part three, as fully set forth in § 24 of the initiative, requires both candidates for most elective offices and elected officials serving in those offices to file periodic reports of a number of designated matters relating to their financial and business affairs; and finally, part four3/ governs  Orig. Op. Page 2 access to the various records of state and local governmental agencies.

            As a law submitted to, and approved by the voters under Article II, § 1 (Amendment 7) of our state Constitution, this initiative measure, currently designated as chapter 1, Laws of 1973, and codified as chapter 42.17 RCW, is clearly subject to the following procedural restraints of Article II, § 41 (Amendment 26) of the Constitution:

            ". . .  No act, law, or bill approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon shall be amended or repealed by the legislature within a period of two years following such enactment:  Provided, That any such act, law or bill may be amended within two years after such enactment at any regular or special session of the legislature by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house with full compliance with section 12, Article III, of the Washington Constitution, and no amendatory law adopted in accordance with this provision shall be subject to referendum.  But such enactment may be amended or repealed at any general regular or special election by direct vote of the people thereon.  These provisions supersede the provisions of subsection (c) of section 1 of this article as amended by the seventh amendment to the Constitution of this state."4/

             The question you have asked is whether Senate Bill No. 2697, now pending before the legislature, constitutes a proposed amendment to Initiative No. 276 within the meaning of this constitutional provision.

            This bill, a copy of which you have attached to your letter, consists of two substantive new sections and a standard severability clause.  Proposed new § 1 of the bill reads as follows:

             Orig. Op. Page 3

            "There is added to chapter 1, Laws of 1973 and to chapter 42.17 RCW a new section to read as follows:

            "As used in section 2 of this act, the following definitions shall apply:

            "(1) 'Appointed public official' or 'appointed official' means and includes every person who holds any state, county, city, special district, or other state political subdivision appointive position whose appointment thereto is subject to confirmation by the legislative authority or other governing body, or portion or segment thereof, of the state, county, city, special district, or other political subdivision of the state: PROVIDED, That the city, special district or other state political subdivision must contain a population of thirty thousand or more people."

            Proposed new § 2 then states, in material part, that:

            "There is added to chapter 1, Laws of 1973 and to chapter 42.17 RCW a new section to read as follows:

            "(1) Every appointed public official shall on or before January 31st of each year, every newly appointed public official shall within two weeks of such appointment, file with the commission a written statement sworn as to its truth and accuracy stating for himself and his immediate family for the preceding twelve months:

            ". . ."

            The remainder of this proposed new section then sets forth a detailed listing of the various items of financial interests which would be required to be reported by "every appointed public official" if this bill should be enacted.  This listing, we may note, is identical to the corresponding portions of § 24, chapter  Orig. Op. Page 4 1, Laws of 1973, supra (Initiative No. 276), which, as earlier indicated, now applies only to persons holding elective public offices and to persons who are candidates for election to such offices.  Thus, although theform of this bill involves a proposed addition of new sections to Initiative No. 276 rather than a proposed amendment to existing sections of this measure, it is, insubstance, clearly amendatory of this initiative measure.

            We do not read the restrictions of Article II, § 41, Amendment 26,supra, upon legislation designed to change the terms of an ". . . act, law, or bill approved by a majority of the electors . . ." as applying only to those bills which are amendatory in form.  Simply stated, an existing law may be amended through the addition of new material not contained within the four corners of the original enactment just as readily as it can through the passage of amendatory alterations to its original text.

            Moreover, it matters not, in our judgment, that a proposed amendment would (if enacted) expand the scope of the original initiative measure rather than result in a contraction of that measure.  Thus the fact that Senate Bill No. 2697 proposes to broaden the financial disclosure requirements of Initiative No. 276 to include appointive officers as well as those holding elective positions does not make this bill any less an amendment to the initiative than would be a bill designed to exempt some elected officials and candidates from the reporting requirements of § 24, supra.

            It is therefore our opinion that your question, as above paraphrased, must be answered in the affirmative.  In order to be enacted by the legislature during the two-year period following the enactment of Initiative No. 276, it will be necessary that Senate Bill No. 2697 be approved by a two-thirds majority of the members of each house of the legislature.

            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

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/See, §§ 3-14.

2/See, §§ 15-23.

3/See, §§ 25-34.

4/Accord, AGLO 1973 No. 14 to Edward T. Luders, State Representative on January 25, 1973, copy enclosed, in which we dealt with the applicability of this provision to the "shoreline management act of 1971," ‑ a measure which was also approved by the voters at the November 7, 1972, general election.

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