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June 25, 1971
Honorable Daniel B. Ward
Director, Department of Commerce
and Economic Development
General Administration Building
Olympia, Washington 98504 Cite as: AGLO 1971 No. 87 (not official)
This is written in response to your recent request for an opinion of this office
". . . as to whether or not the Washington State International Trade Fair, Inc. can qualify for state matching funds in the amount of $40,000 for participation in a foreign fair, and state matching funds not to exceed $30,000 for participation in a domestic fair in the same year."
In our opinion, this question is answerable in the negative.
By its enactment of chapter 148, Laws of 1965, codified as RCW 43.31.790 ‑ 43.31.860, the legislature authorized state finincial support for ". . . the participation in and presentation of state trade fairs . . ." (§ 1) by means of allocations from the state trade fair fund ‑ a fund which was earlier established under the provisions of a statute now codified as RCW 67.16.100. Basically, this fund is derived from a percentage of the gross receipts of all parimutuel betting operations carried on at horse racing meets throughout the state ‑ in accordance with chapter 67.16 RCW.
Responsibility for the administration of this program was vested in the director of commerce and economic development pursuant to § 2 (RCW 43.31.800), and the term "state trade fair" was expressly defined by § 8 (RCW 43.31.850) as meaning:
". . . a fair supported by public agencies basically for the purpose of introducing and promoting the sale of manufactured or cutlural products and services of a given [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] area, whether presented in this state, the United States or its territories, or in a foreign country."
State aid eligibility requirements are set forth in § 3 (RCW 43.31.810) as follows:
"For the purposes of RCW 43.31.790 through 43.31.860 and 67.16.100 state trade fair organizations, to be eligible for state financial aid hereunder (1) must have had at least two or more years of experience in the presentation of or participation in state trade fairs, whether held in this state, another state or territory of the United States or a foreign country, however these need not be consecutive years; (2) must be able to provide, from its own resources derived from general admission or otherwise, funds sufficient to match the amount of state financial aid allotted."
Applications for funds are to be processed in the manner set forth in § 4 (RCW 43.31.820) as follows:
"The board of trustees of any state trade fair sponsored by any public agency, qualifying under the provisions of RCW 43.31.790 through 43.31.860 and 67.16.100, may apply to the director for moneys to carry on the continued development as well as the operation of said fair, said money to be appropriated from the state trade fair fund as provided for in RCW 67.16.100."
Finally, the section of this 1965 act which must be interpreted in order to answer your question is § 5 (RCW 43.31.830) which provides as follows:
"It shall be the duty of the director to certify, from the applications received, the state trade fair or fairs qualified and entitled to receive funds under RCW 43.31.790 through 43.31.860 and 67.16.100. The director shall make annual allotments to state trade fairs determined qualified to be entitled to participate in the state trade fair fund and shall fix times for the division of and payment from the state trade fair fund: Provided, That total payment to any one state trade fair [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] shall not exceed thirty thousand dollars in any one year, where participation or presentation occurs within the United States, and forty thousand dollars in any one year, where participation or presentation occurs outside the United States. Upon certification of the allotment and division of fair funds by the director of commerce and economic development the treasurer shall proceed to pay the same to carry out the purposes of RCW 43.31.790 through 43.31.860 and 67.16.100." (Emphasis supplied.)
Your question is whether allotments can be made to a single state trade fair organization1/ in an amount up to $70,000 where the trade fair organization participates in both domestic and foreign presentations within a single year. In answering this question in the negative, we are particularly impressed by the fact that the critical language of this statute is contained in a proviso. The function of a proviso is, of course, normally to limit rather than to expand upon the content of the main enactment. Monroe Etc. Co. v. Dept. Labor & Industries, 11 Wn.2d 636, 120 P.2d 466 (1941). Thus, we cannot read the language in question as granting any authority to the director; instead, it must be regarded as establishing a limitation upon his general authority to allocate moneys from the state trade fair fund to qualified state trade fair organizations.
[[Orig. Op. Page 4]]
With this in mind we next note, again, the express statutory definition of "state trade fair" as set forth in § 8 (RCW 43.31.850), supra. This definition concludes with the phrase ". . . whether presented in this state, the United States or its territories, or in a foreign country."
Thus, the term "state trade fair" encompasses both domestic and foreign presentations. If only a domestic presentation is involved in the activities of a particular qualified trade fair organization, then it may be allotted a maximum of $30,000 for its participations during a given year, whereas if foreign presentations are involved as well, the legislature has expressed an intent to allow, in effect, an additional allocation of $10,000. Most certainly, there is no indication in the statute that in order to qualify for the maximum $40,000 allotment, a fair's participations or presentations during a given year must occur one hundred percent outside of the United States or its territories. Nor, by the same token, is there any indication in the statute that the legislature intended to authorize separate allocations of not to exceed $30,000 for each separate domestic presentation, or $40,000 for each separate foreign presentation or participation. Instead, the language of the proviso imparts a total annual limitation upon the amount of money that a particular trade fair organization may be allocated for all of its presentations or participations during the particular year ‑ foreign or domestic. If only domestic presentations are involved, the limitation is $30,000, whereas if foreign presentations are also included in the activities of the trade fair organization, the ceiling is $40,000.
You have advised us that the foregoing construction of the proviso is consistent with your own administrative interpretation of the subject statute over the years since it was enacted. In other words, you have regarded the statute as, in effect, denying you the authority to make cumulative allotments to a single trade fair organization participating both domestically and in foreign fairs during the same year. This administrative construction, continued over the years, is entitled to great weight in determining the intent of the legislature, particularly where (as here) the legislature has since met on several occasions without repudiating the administrative construction. See, Bradley v. Dept. of Labor & Ind., 52 Wn.2d 780, 329 P.2d 196 (1958), and cases [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] cited therein.
We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Charles F. Murphy
Assistant Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/Although RCW 43.81.830, supra, speaks, literally, of payments to a state trade fair, rather than a trade fair organization, this section must be read in context with RCW 43.81.810, supra, which speaks of state aid eligibility requirements for "state trade fair organizations." Accord, Nationwide Papers v. NW Egg Sales, 69 Wn.2d 72, 416 P.2d 687 (1966), and cases cited therein; see, also, memorandum opinion of this office dated July 29, 1969, copy enclosed. Clearly, then, the recipient of authorized state aid was intended to be the participating or presenting organization, and not the fair itself. Likewise, it is this organization which is to be audited under the provisions of RCW 43.81.840.