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AGO 1958 No. 175 - March 28, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE INSTITUTIONS ‑- CONSTRUCTION OF NEEDFUL BUILDINGS ‑- BONDS ‑- GENERAL OBLIGATION ‑- USE FOR PURCHASE OF NEW INSTITUTIONS.

Revenue derived from the sale of general obligation bonds authorized by chapter 299, Laws of 1957, may be used only for construction of facilities at existing state‑operated charitable, educational and penal institutions and may not be used for the construction of a new intermediate correctional institution or the purchase of Martha Washington School for girls, Luther Burbank School for boys and Yakima Valley School at Selah.

The legislature may, by two-thirds majority vote of both houses following referendum approval of the act, amend it to provide for the purchase and construction of such facilities.

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                                                                  March 28, 1958

Honorable Garrett Heyns
Director
Department of Institutions
Olympia, Washington                                                                                         Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 175

Dear Sir:

            You have requested our opinion on two questions which we paraphrase as follows:

            (1) May the revenue derived from the issuance of general obligation bonds authorized by chapter 299, Laws of 1957, and subject to the approval of the voters at the general election in November, 1958, be used for construction of a new intermediate correctional institution; the purchase of Martha Washington School for Girls, Luther Burbank School for Boys and Yakima Valley School at Selah?

            (2) If your answer to question (2) is in the negative, could the legislature at its next meeting, assuming the people approve the act cited, amend the act to provide for the purchase and construction of those facilities outlined in question (1)?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            We answer question (1) in the negative and question (2) in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 299, Laws of 1957 (RCW 72.52.170 through 72.52.220), is designated as "an act providing funds for the construction of needful buildings at the state operated charitable, educational, and penal institutions . . ."

            Section 1 (RCW 72.52.170) of the act authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds in the sum of twenty-five million dollars "for the purpose of providing needful buildings at the state operated charitable, educational, and penal institutionspresently operated by the department of . . . institutions. . . ."

            By section 2 (RCW 72.52.180), the proceeds from the sale of such bonds are to be deposited in the institutional building construction fund account in the state general fund.

            Section 3 (RCW 72.52.190), appropriates twenty-five million dollars from the institutional building construction fund to the state finance committee to be expended, in part, through allotments to the director of institutions for the purpose ofconstructing needful buildings at such institutions.

            The language used, and the entire tenor of the act, evidences a legislative intent to provide funds for the construction of additional buildings at institutions which are presently operated by the state.  Such a clear indication of intent precludes the use of such funds for any other purpose.  In view of the cardinal rule of statutory construction that in construing a statute, the words must be given their plain and ordinary meaning in the absence of anything in the context to the contrary.  Featherstone v. Dessert, 173 Wash. 264; State v. Hemrich, 93 Wash. 439; and State v. Vosgien, 82 Wash. 685.

            Your second question arises because of the provisions of § 7, chapter 299, Laws of 1957, which provides:

            "This act shall be submitted to the people for their adoption and ratification, or rejection, at the general election to be held in this state on the Tuesday next succeeding the first Monday in November, 1958, in accordance with the provisions of section 3, Article VIII of the state Constitution; and in accordance with the provisions of section 1, Article II of the state Constitution, as amended, and the laws adopted to facilitate the operation thereof."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Section 1, Article II, as amended by Amendment 7 (b) provides for the reservation to the people of the power of referendum.

            Amendment 7 (c) was superseded by Amendment 26, which provides:

            ". . . No act, law, or bill approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon shall be amended or repealed by the legislature within a period of two years . . .  Provided, That any such act, law or bill may be amended within two years after such enactment at any regular or special session of the legislature by a vote of two-thirds ofall members elected to each house with full compliance with section 12, Article III, of the Washington Constitution, and no amendatory law adopted in accordance with this provision shall be subject to referendum.  But such enactment may be amended or repealed at any general regular or special election by direct vote of the people thereon. . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Section 12, Article III of the constitution, to which reference is made, is concerned with the governor's veto power.

            In reply to question (2), it is evident that, within the constitutional limits outlined above, the legislature could, by a two-thirds majority vote of all the elected members of both houses, following approval by the people, amend chapter 299, Laws of 1957, to provide for the purchase and construction of those facilities enumerated in question (1).

            We hope the foregoing proves helpful.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

GERALD F. COLLLIER
Assistant Attorney General

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