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December 21, 1971
Honorable Thomas A. Swayze, Jr.
Speaker, House of Representatives
Olympia, Washington 98504
Cite as: AGLO 1971 No. 135 (not official)
We are in receipt of your letter dated December 15, 1971, requesting our opinion on a question relating to the final passage of bills under House Rule No. 37 which provides as follows:
"No bill shall become a law unless on its final passage the vote be taken by yeas and nays, the names of the members voting for and against the same be entered on the journal of each house, and a majority of the members elected to each house be recorded as voting in its favor."
With regard to this Rule you have posed the following question:
"I would like an opinion on the question of whether the names of members shall be literally spread upon the Journal or whether they might be listed as they are in our Roll Call Transcripts with only those deviating from the majority being listed by name."
Notably, House Rule No. 37 is identical to Article II, § 22, of our state constitution. We believe that both the Rule and the constitution provision must be read as requiring literal compliance with their respective mandates. Although we have found no Washington cases directly in point, the rule in other states having similar procedural requirements regarding the passage of legislation, as summarized in I Sutherland, Statutory Construction (3rd Ed.) § 1302, is as follows:
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
"Courts have held consistently that the recording of votes under a constitutional provision is mandatory, and with considerable uniformity have held that the constitutional provision must be complied with in ipsissimis verbis. Thus, where the constitution required that the journal show the yea and nay vote, a listing of those who voted in the affirmative will not be sufficient, and the act will be invalid unless it affirmatively appears and is stated that there were no negative votes; and where the journal shows that an act was vetoed, but does not show that it was passed over the veto, it is not law."
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General