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AGO 1964 No. 113 - July 27, 1964
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington



The legislature may constitutionally enact legislation providing for the use of proceeds from lands classified as university lands by § 9, chapter 122, Laws of 1893, for construction of educational facilities at the University of Washington.

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                                                                    July 27, 1964

Honorable Charles E. Odegaard
President, University of Washington
Seattle, Washington 98105

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 113

Dear Sir:

            You have asked whether the May 31, 1962, amendment by Congress to § 11 of the Enabling Act now permits use of moneys from the University permanent fund for capital expenditures at the University of Washington.  You point out that your inquiry presupposes appropriate legislation and is limited to those moneys in the fund which are derived from university lands having their character as such by virtue of § 9, chapter 122, Laws of 1893.

            In our opinion, should the legislature so provide, proceeds from the class of university lands you describe may be withdrawn from the university permanent fund and used for the construction of educational facilities at the University of Washington.


            The university permanent fund under existing law is a "permanent and irreducible" fund into which is paid the proceeds from the sale of all university lands.  RCW 43.79.060.  (University lands are public lands of the state "held in trust for university purposes."  RCW 79.01.004.) By far the greatest portion of these university lands were acquired by the state of Washington from the federal government.  This acquisition came about in two ways.  First, under § 14 of the Enabling Act the United States gave seventy-two sections of public lands to the state for the purpose of a university.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Secondly, under § 17 of the Enabling Act, the United States gave 200,000 acres of public lands to the state for "charitable, educational, penal, and reformatory institutions."  Thereafter the legislature set aside one‑half of this latter grant for the benefit of the University.  Laws of 1893, chapter 122, § 9.  This it had the right to do.  State ex rel. Moore v. Callvert, 34 Wash. 58, 74 Pac. 1018 (1904).

            Prior to the May 31, 1962, amendment of the Enabling Act, proceeds from the sale of both § 14 and § 17 lands constituted permanent funds of the state which could not be expended.  State ex rel. Heuston v. Maynard, 31 Wash. 132, 71 Pac. 775 (1903); AGO 59-60 No. 2, January 19, 1959 [[to Paul Ellis, Legislative Auditor]].  The amendment, however, added the following provisions to § 11:

            ". . . 'proceeds from the sale and other permanent disposition of the two hundred thousand acres granted to the State of Washington for State charitable, educational, penal, and reformatory institutions may be used by [the] . . . State for the construction of any such institution.'"  [Public Law 87-473, 76 Stat. 91 (1962).]

            This provision, in our judgment, now authorizes state use of the proceeds from § 17 university lands for the "construction" of educational facilities at the University of Washington should the legislature so provide.  Any such proceeds that may now be in the university permanent fund are eligible for this new use.

            We trust that the foregoing information will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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