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AGLO 1970 No. 051 - March 31, 1970
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington
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                                                                  March 31, 1970
Honorable Martin J. Durkan
State Senator, 47th District
404 Olympic National Building
Seattle, Washington 98104
                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1970 No. 51
Dear Sir:
            This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on a question pertaining to the exemption of certain property from taxation under the provisions of chapter 55, Laws of 1970 (Senate Bill No. 144).  As we understand it from your letter (and enclosures thereto) the issue raised by your question may be paraphrased as follows:
            Does the exemption from taxation which is granted to certain property used solely for educational purposes by RCW 84.36.050, as amended by § 1, chapter 55, Laws of 1970, extend to property owned or used as housing for students, staff members and other school or college employees?
            We answer this question in the negative, based primarily upon the legislative history of the amendatory bill which became § 1, chapter 55, Laws of 1970.
            As originally introduced, Senate Bill No. 144 contained only an amendment to RCW 84.36.050 ‑ a statute relating to property tax exemptions.  The bill in its original form would have amended this section to read as follows:
            "Property owned or used for any school or college in this state, supported in whole or in part by gifts, endowments, or charity, the entire income of which said school or college, after paying the expenses thereof, is devoted to the purposes of such institution, and which is open to all persons upon equal terms.  To be exempt, such property must be used solely for educational purposes, including housing for students, staff members and other employees, or the revenue therefrom be devoted exclusively to the support and maintenance of such institution.  Real property so exempt shall not exceed ((one)) four hundred acres in extent and shall be used exclusively for school, college or campus purposes."
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
            However, when this bill reached the senate committee on ways and means, a committee amendment was adopted which struck the phrase "including housing for students, staff members and other employees" from the bill.  This committee amendment was adopted by the senate on January 31, 1970, and thereafter the bill was transmitted to the house of representatives where a number of additional sections were added to it.  (Basically, involving an addition of the form of another bill ‑ House Bill No. 193 ‑ to the senate bill).  In this form, the bill was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.
            In view of this legislative history of the bill, we can see no other alternative than to conclude that a knowing and reasoned decision was made by the legislature not to add "housing for students, staff members and other employees" to the preexisting tax exemptions in question.
            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General
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