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AGO 1958 No. 172 - March 14, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTY AUDITOR ‑- SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- EMPLOYEES' PAYROLL DEDUCTIONS.

The county auditor is authorized, but is not required, to make payroll deductions for group accident and health insurance when the group is composed of less than 25 employees of the same school district.

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                                                                  March 14, 1958

Honorable Thurman E. Ward
Prosecuting Attorney
Klickitat County
Goldendale, Washington                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 172

Dear Sir:

            This letter is written in answer to your request for an opinion from this office concerning payroll deductions by the county auditor.  We paraphrase your question as follows:

            Is the county auditor required to make payroll deductions for group accident and health insurance when the group is composed of less than 25 employees of the same school district?

            We answer your question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The answer to your questions must be determined by reference to RCW 41.04.020 and RCW 41.04.030.  These statutes read as follows:

            "Any. . .group of employees of the state of Washington orany of its political subdivisions, . . . may authorize the deduction from . . . their salaries or wages, the amount or amounts of . . . their subscription payments or contributions  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] to any person, firm, or corporation furnishing or providing . . . life insurance or accident and health disability insurance:Provided, That such authorization by the. . .group of employees, is first approved by the head of the department, division, office or institutionof the state or political subdivision thereof, employing such . . . group or persons, and filed with the state auditor; or in the case of political subdivisions of the state of Washington, with the auditor of the political subdivision or the person authorized by law to draw warrants against the funds thereof."  RCW 41.04.020 (Emphasis supplied.)

            "Upon being authorized by any . . . group of employees so to do under the provisions of RCW 41.04.020, the auditor or other person authorized to draw warrants against the funds involved is authorized, and if such . . . life insurance or accident and health disability insurance is to be provided on a group basis for groups each of not less than twenty-five individuals such auditor or other person is hereby required, to draw and issue a proper warrant or warrants directly to and in favor of the person, firm, or corporation, or organization named in the authorization for the total amount authorized to be deducted from the payroll of any such office, department, division, or institution."  RCW 41.04.030

            A school district is a political subdivision of the state and hence within the purview of the above statutes.  See AGO 57-58 No. 61 [[to Cliff Yelle, State Auditor on April 20, 1955]].  Based on your question, we assumed that the employees concerned have secured approval of the deduction from the political subdivision as required by RCW 41.04.020.

            Prior to the amendment of RCW 41.04.030 by Section 1, Chapter 260, Laws of 1953, the auditor or other person authorized to draw warrants against the funds was merely authorized to make such a deduction and issue a warrant to the person or firm named in the authorization.  As amended, the statute requires the auditor or other person authorized to draw warrants against the funds to make such a deduction and to issue a warrant to the person or firm named in the authorization, if the insurance is to be provided on a group basis for groups each of not less than 25 individuals.

            RCW 41.04.020 and RCW 41.04.030 are in pari materia and must be construed together.  State v. Houck, 32 Wn. (2d) 681, 203 P. (2d) 693.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            The underlined portion of RCW 41.04.020, quoted supra, clearly indicates that when the authorization of a payroll deduction is made by a group of employees, the group must be employees of the same political subdivision.

            RCW 41.04.030 specifically refers to an authorization under the provisions of RCW 41.04.020.  It requires the person authorized to draw such a warrant directly in favor of the person or firm named in the authorization if the insurance is to be provided on a group basis "for groups each of not less than twenty-five individuals."  These groups are not otherwise defined in RCW 41.04.030, but by reference to RCW 41.04.020 it clearly appears that they are groups composed of employees who are employees of the same political subdivision.  Since a school district is not divided into divisions or departments, we need not determine whether the group must also be employees of the same division or department.

            We conclude, therefore, that the county auditor is authorized, but is not required, to make payroll deductions for group accident and health insurance when the group is composed of less than 25 employees of the same school district.

            We trust that this information will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

ELVIN J. VANDEBERG
Assistant Attorney General

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