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AGO 1965 No. 46 - October 13, 1965
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- DEPARTMENT OF INSTITUTIONS ‑- MENTAL RETARDATION FACILITIES AND COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS CONSTRUCTION ACT OF 1963 ‑- DESIGNATION OF AGENCY TO CONDUCT PROGRAM.

1. Chapter 75, Laws of 1965, authorizes the state of Washington to participate in the programs set forth in the "Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963."

2. The designation by the governor of the department of institutions "as the sole agency for administration of the state plan and as the mental health and mental retardation construction authority" is in conformity with chapter 75, Laws of 1965, and thereby vests the department of institutions with authority to conduct and perform on behalf of the state of Washington the programs set forth in the "Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963."

3. The governor has the authority under chapter 75, Laws of 1965, to direct the mental retardation and mental health advisory council to "advise the department of institutions directly on matters relating to mental health and mental retardation construction," in accordance with § 2684 (3), Title 42, U.S.C.A.

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                                                                October 13, 1965

Honorable Garrett Heyns
Director, Department of Institutions
Institutions Building
Olympia, Washington

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 65-66 No. 46

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter, previously acknowledged, requesting our opinion on the following question:

            "Does the Department of Institutions have the authority to conduct and perform on behalf of the state of Washington the program as set forth in the 'Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963' (Public Law 88-164, Title 42, U.S.C.A. § 2261 et seq.), pursuant to the delegation of authority contained in the enclosed copies of letters of the Honorable Daniel J. Evans, Governor, and chapter 75, Laws of 1965."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            We answer your inquiry in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The "Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963" is an act of the United States Congress providing for grants to the states and certain territories of the United States "for the construction of public and other nonprofit facilities for the mentally retarded" (42 U.S.C.A. § 2671) and for ". . . community mental health centers" (42 U.S.C.A. § 2681) under certain prescribed conditions.  This program is to be administered by the Secretary of the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

            The 1965 session of the Washington state legislature specifically authorized this state to participate in the program envisioned by Public Law 88-164 by its enactment of chapter 75, Laws of 1965, which became effective on June 10, 1965.

            Section 1, chapter 75, Laws of 1965, provides:

            "The governor is hereby authorized and empowered to take whatever action is necessary to enable the state to participate in the programs set forth in the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963 (Public Law 88-164).  (the 'federal law' herein)  The governor through the designated agency is authorized and empowered to accept and disburse federal grants or federal matching or other funds or donations from any source, when made, granted or donated for a purpose covered by the federal law."

            Section 2, chapter 75, Laws of 1965, makes provision for the appointment by the governor of "a mental health and mental retardation advisory council" of at least eleven members, four of whom are designated state officers.  Section 3 provides for the terms of service of certain members of the "mental health and mental retardation advisory council."  Section 4 enumerates the functions and duties of the advisory council, and further provides that the council ". . . shall have any additional powers assigned to it by the  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] governor necessary to obtain programs to meet the requirements of the federal act."

            Section 2684, Title 42, U.S.C.A. of the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963, provides in so far as pertinent, as follows:

            "(a) After such regulations have been issued, any State desiring to take advantage of this subchapter shall submit a State plan for carrying out its purposes.  Such State plan must‑-

            "(1) designate a single State agency as the sole agency for the administration of the plan, or designate such agency as the sole agency for supervising the administration of the plan;

            "(2) contain satisfactory evidence that the State agency designated in accordance with paragraph (1) hereof will have authority to carry out such plan in conformity with this subchapter;

            "(3) provide for the designation of a State advisory council . . . to consult with the State agency in carrying out such plan;"

            The foregoing provision, quoted in part above, concerns the submission of the state plan concerning community mental health centers and the requirements of such state plans.  Section 2674, Title 42, U.S.C.A. is the comparable provision of the federal act relating to the submission of a state's plan relating to mental retardation facilities.

            On July 9, 1965, Governor Daniel J. Evans directed a letter to the Honorable Anthony J. Celebrezze, Secretary of the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare and stated therein, in so far as pertinent:

            "This letter will serve as formal notification that in accordance with PL 88-164, I am appointing the Department of Institutions as the sole agency for administration of the state plan and as the mental health, mental retardation construction authority."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            On July 23, 1965, Governor Evans further corresponded with Secretary Anthony J. Celebrezze, and stated in so far as pertinent:

            "This is in further reference to my letter of July 9 designating the Department of Institutions as the Construction Authority for Mental Health and Mental Retardation.  It is my intention that the effective date of this designation is the date of that earlier letter."

            On August 10, 1965, Governor Evans directed a letter to Dr. R. Leslie Smith, Regional Health Director of the United States Public Health Service, San Francisco, California, in which he named the persons he appointed to the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Advisory Council and the terms of office where relevant, and further stated:

            "It is with my support and understanding that the advisory council will advise the Department of Institutions directly on matters related to mental health and mental retardation construction."

            It is clear from the language employed in § 1 of chapter 75, Laws of 1965, (quoted above) that the legislature intended the governor to be vested with all necessary authority "to enable the state to participate in the programs set forth in the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963 (Public Law 88-164)."  Furthermore, it is to be observed from the second sentence of § 1 of the act that the legislature contemplated a delegation of authority by the governor to a state agency for the administration of the program envisioned by the federal act, by its use of the terms "through the designated agency."

            It is a fundamental principle of statutory construction and interpretation that the legislative intent, will, or purpose is to be ascertained from the statutory text as a whole, interpreted in terms of the general purpose of the act.  Guinness v. State, 40 Wn.2d 677, 246 P.2d 433 (1952); Hatzenbuhler v. Harrison, 49 Wn.2d 691, 306 P.2d 745 (1957);St. Paul and Tacoma Lumber Company v. State, 40 Wn.2d 347, 243 P.2d 474 (1952);Martin v. Aleinikoff, 63 Wn.2d 842, 389 P.2d 422 (1964).

             [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            It is our opinion that the enactment by the 1965 session of the state legislature of chapter 75, Laws of 1965, fully authorizes this state to participate in the programs set forth in the "Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963."  Further, it is our opinion that the governor's designation of the department of institutions "as the sole agency for administration of the state plan and as the mental health, mental retardation construction authority" is in conformity with the provisions of this state's legislation and thereby vests the department of institutions with authority to conduct and perform on behalf of the state of Washington the aforesaid programs.

            Likewise, we are of the opinion that the governor has the authority under chapter 75, Laws of 1965, to direct the Mental Retardation and Mental Health Advisory Council to "advise the Department of Institutions directly on matters relating to mental health and mental retardation construction" which is in accord with § 2684 (3), Title 42, U.S.C.A.

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

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

STEPHEN C. WAY
Assistant Attorney General

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