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AGO 1959 No. 1 - January 16, 1959
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

LEGISLATURE ‑- AUTHORITY OF LEGISLATIVE BUDGET COMMITTEE TO AUDIT ATTENDANCE RECORDS OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS WHICH RECEIVE STATE MONEYS.

The legislative budget committee has no statutory authority to audit the attendance records of public schools which receive state moneys.

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                                                                 January 16, 1959

Honorable Paul W. Ellis
Legislative Auditor
Legislative Budget Committee
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 59-60 No. 1

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged, you asked our opinion on a problem we paraphrase as follows:

            Does RCW 44.28.080 (1) and 44.28.140 give the legislative budget committee the authority to audit the attendance records of public schools which receive state money under RCW 28.41.060 and 28.45.110?

            We answer your question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            A legislative committee has only those powers given to it by the legislature, and therefore, the power possessed by the legislative budget committee must be found in the legislation creating the committee.  In examining the various provisions, it is clear that the legislature has given the committee broad powers in examining state funds and the various state departments using state funds.  However, it is clear that the powers of the committee are not without some limitations.  As can be seen from a reading of RCW 44.28.110 the committee only has

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            ". . . the authority to examine and inspect all properties, equipment, facilities, files, records and accounts of any state office, department, institution, board, committee, commission or agency, . . ."

            It is evident from this language, that the committee does not have the authority to examine and inspect all properties, etc., of municipal corporations, even though these municipal corporations may be recipients of state funds.

            When construing a statute, it is a general rule that each part or section must be construed with every other part or section.  City of Tacoma v. Cavanaugh, 45 Wn. (2d) 500, 275 P. (2d) 933; State v. Rinkes, 49 Wn. (2d) 664, 306 P. (2d) 205.  Also, where two sections of a statute are apparently in conflict, that which is more specific will take precedence over that which is more general.  Braicks v. Henricksen, 43 F.Supp. 254; In re North River Logging Co., 15 Wn. (2d) 204, 130 P. (2d) 64.

            Therefore, it is our opinion that the broad statement in RCW 44.28.080 authorizing the committee

            "(1) To make current examination and reports . . . concerning whether or not such appropriations are being currently expended for the purposes and within the statutory restrictions provided by the legislature; . . ."

            is limited by the authority given the committee to examine and inspect as set forth in RCW 44.28.110, supra.  It appears that the committee has the power to examine and inspect all properties, equipment, files, records and accounts of the superintendent of public instruction and to see that the appropriations are being distributed according to the schedule prepared by the superintendent of public instruction.  We do not believe, however, that the committee has the power to go beyond the records of the superintendent of public instruction to audit the attendance records of schools since the powers set up in chapter 44.28 RCW are not broad enough to include any municipal corporation.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            We trust the foregoing will be of help to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

CHARLES I. McCLURE
Assistant Attorney General

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