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April 9, 1970
Honorable Robert S. O'Brien
Olympia, Washington 98501
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 56
This is written in response to your recent request for our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:
May the state legislature, when convened in a special session called by the governor pursuant to Article III, § 7 of the Washington Constitution, propose an amendment to the state Constitution for submission to the voters at the next general election?
In our opinion, this question is clearly answerable in the affirmative.
Under Article XXIII, § 1 of the Constitution,
"Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in either branch of the legislature; and if the same shall be agreed to by two-thirds of the members elected to each of the two houses, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be entered on their journals, with the ayes and noes thereon, and be submitted to the qualified electors of the state for their approval, at the next general election; . . ."
The authority of the governor to convene a special session of the legislature is provided for in Article III, § 7 of the Constitution, as follows:
"He [the governor] may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the legislature by proclamation, in which shall be stated the purposes for which the legislature is convened."1/
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
In the early case of State v. Fair, 35 Wash. 127, 76 Pac. 731 (1904), the state supreme court held that a special legislative session, when convened by the governor, has full power to perform all the functions vested in it ‑ without regard to the governor's stated purposes as set forth in his proclamation convening the legislature. See, also, AGO 65-66 No. 12 [[to Robert C. Bailey, State Senator and Marshall A. Neill, State Senator on March 5, 1965]], copy enclosed, in which we said:
"A special session of our legislature, if convened by the governor, is not limited by the constitution in the legislative business it may consider. State v. Fair, supra; AGO 65-66 No. 10 [[to Robert M. Schaefer, State Representative on March 3, 1965]]. It may enact any laws during the special session which it is otherwise empowered to enact at any regular session. In Morford v. Unger, 8 Iowa 82, 87 (1859), cited by our court in State v. Fair, supra, the supreme court of Iowa said:
"'When lawfully convened, whether in virtue of the provision of the constitution, or the Governor's proclamation, it is the "General Assembly" of the state, in which the full and exclusive legislative authority of the state is vested. Where its business at such session, is not restricted by some constitutional provision, the general assembly may enact any law at a special or extra session, that it might at a regular session. Its powers not being derived from the Governor's proclamation, are not confined to the special purpose for which it may have been convened by him.' (Emphasis supplied.)"
To the foregoing, we would only add that our affirmative answer to your question is clearly consistent with longstanding practice as well as being in accordance with the applicable provisions of our Constitution as we have analyzed them. Among the existing amendments to our state Constitution which were initially proposed by special legislative sessions are the 40th (incorporation of municipalities); the 41st (election of superior court judges); the 43rd (creating the common school construction fund); the 44th (investment of permanent common school funds); the 45th (port expenditures ‑ industrial development ‑ promotion); the 46th (voter qualifications for presidential elections) the 47th (retired persons property tax exemption); the 48th (special indebtedness, how authorized); the 52nd (vacancies in legislature and in partisan county elective office); and the 53rd (taxation based on [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] actual use).
We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/See, also, Article II, § 12, relating to the time and duration of legislative sessions.