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AGO Opinion Archives 1980-1989
AGO 1980 No. 1 >  January 3, 1980
OFFICES AND OFFICERS - COUNTY - ASSESSOR - PUBLIC RECORDS - TAXATION
PUBLIC ACCESS TO PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT ROLLS

(1) Except where prohibited by RCW 42.17.260(5), inspection and copying of an assessor's property tax assessment roll and supporting materials must be allowed unless the specific exemptions covering taxpayer information, as set forth in RCW 42.17.310(1)(c) and RCW 84.40.020, are applicable in a given case.  (2) Real property assessment rolls prepared pursuant to RCW 84.40.020 and 84.40.160 are lists of taxable property and not individuals and, therefore, their disclosure is not prohibited by RCW 42.17.260(5) even for a commercial purpose; whether this is also true of personal property assessment rolls will depend upon their actual form.

AGO 1980 No. 2 >  January 11, 1980
COURTS - JUVENILE - CRIMES - INFANTS
INFANCY AS DEFENSE TO CHARGED COMMISSION OF JUVENILE OFFENSE The provisions of RCW 9A.04.050, under which children under eight years of age are incapable of committing a crime and children between eight and twelve years of age are presumed to be incapable of committing a crime, do not apply in a proceeding in juvenile court under chapter 13.40 RCW to have such child adjudged a "juvenile offender" as defined in RCW 13.40.020(11).
AGO 1980 No. 3 >  January 17, 1980
COURTS - SUPERIOR - LEGISLATURE
INITIATIVE NO. 62 ‑- FUNDING NEW SUPERIOR COURT JUDGESHIPS In the event that the state legislature, during its current (1980) session, increases the number of superior court judgeships within a given county, the state will be required by § 6(1) of Initiative No. 62 to reimburse that county for its added costs arising by reason of those new judgeships.
AGO 1980 No. 4 >  January 18, 1980
PROPERTY - TAXATION - REAL PROPERTY - MOBILE HOMES - IMPROVEMENTS
OMITTED ASSESSMENT OF MOBILE HOMES AFFIXED TO REAL PROPERTY Where (but only where) a mobile home is permanently affixed to a tract or realty so as to constitute an improvement, and the bona fide purchaser, encumbrancer or contract buyer has acquired an interest in the real estate upon which it is located prior to the time the mobile home is assessed, the proviso to the second sentence of RCW 84.40.080 will apply so as to prevent an omitted property assessment. 
AGO 1980 No. 5 >  January 24, 1980
COUNTIES - CITIES AND TOWNS - PLATTING AND SUBDIVISION
RESUBDIVISION OF LOT WITHIN EXISTING SUBDIVISION Where, within an existing land subdivision established pursuant to either chapter 58.16 or 58.17 RCW, the owner of an individual lot proposes to divide that lot into four or fewer smaller lots for the purpose of sale or lease, such action will not constitute the establishment of a "short subdivision" as defined in RCW 58.17.020(6) and, thereby, be subject to the city or county's short subdivision ordinance as enacted pursuant to RCW 58.17.060; instead, such action will constitute a "resubdivision" and thus be subject to the general provisions of chapter 58.17 RCW relating to subdivisions.
AGO 1980 No. 6 >  February 8, 1980
JUVENILE COURTS - SCHOOLS - TRUANCY
ENFORCEMENT OF COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE LAW In the enforcement of the state compulsory school attendance law as amended by chapter 201, Laws of 1979, 1st Ex. Sess., a juvenile court has only the limited jurisdiction (by virtue of § 2 of that act) to impose the non-criminal monetary penalty provided for in RCW 28A.27.100 as amended by § 6 of chapter 201, supra; however, assuming that this fine or penalty has been invoked in a given case and the juvenile in question fails to pay it, that juvenile may then be declared to be in contempt of court, whereupon the court will then have jurisdiction to deal with the child as a "juvenile offender" under the provisions of chapter 13.40 RCW.
AGO 1980 No. 7 >  March 5, 1980
SHOPLIFTING - COURTS
CIVIL ACTION FOR DAMAGES UNDER RCW 4.24.230 ‑- APPLICABILITY TO THEFT OF MEAL FROM RESTAURANT Although he or she would potentially be subject to criminal sanctions under the provisions of RCW 9.45.040, RCW 19.48.110 and chapter 9A.56 RCW, a customer who orders a meal in a restaurant, receives at least a portion thereof and then leaves without paying is not thereby subject to civil liability under RCW 4.24.230 even if it can be proved that he or she intended to obtain such meal without paying the purchase price therefore.
AGO 1980 No. 8 >  March 7, 1980
RETIREMENT - PENSIONS - TEACHERS - STATE EMPLOYEES
RETENTION OF MEMBERSHIP IN TEACHERS' RETIREMENT SYSTEM OR TRANSFER TO PUBLIC EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM UPON CHANGE IN EMPLOYMENT STATUS (1) A person who has properly established membership in the Washington Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) through employment as a public school teacher in accordance with RCW 41.32.240 or RCW 41.32.780 may thereafter continue to participate in TRS and receive TRS service credit in connection with later periods of employment with the same or another school district or a state agency even though that person is not still employed as a teacher. (2) Such continuing active participation in the Washington Teachers' Retirement System, however, is only permitted and not required under the specified circumstances; accordingly, the person in question (by not returning to or continuing in active TRS membership upon his or her change in employment status) may, if employed in an eligible position under the Washington Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS), thereafter be covered as a member of that retirement system unless he or she is personally ineligible, under RCW 41.40.120, for some other reason.
AGO 1980 No. 9 >  March 12, 1980
COUNTIES - HOME RULE CHARTER - TAXATION
AUTHORITY OF A 'HOME RULE' CHARTER COUNTY TO IMPOSE A COUNTY-WIDE BUSINESS AND OCCUPATION TAX A county, including a county which has adopted a "home rule" charter under Article XI, § 4 (Amendment 21) of the Washington Constitution, does not have the authority, in the absence of some form of statutory authorization by the state legislature, to impose a county-wide business and occupation tax.
AGO 1980 No. 10 >  April 25, 1980
CITIES AND TOWNS - TAXATION
IMPOSITION OF SPECIAL HOTEL-MOTEL OCCUPANCY EXCISE TAX BY FOURTH CLASS MUNICIPALITY OR TOWN Under RCW 67.28.180, which authorizes the legislative body of any county or city to levy and collect a special excise tax on hotel and motel occupancies, the term "city" includes a municipal corporation of the fourth class, commonly known as a "town," organized and operating under the provisions of chapter 35.27 RCW.
AGO 1980 No. 11 >  May 16, 1980
BANKS AND BANKING - INTEREST - SALE
REGULATION OF BANK CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS (1) To the extent permitted by 12 U.S.C. § 85, where the holder of a bank credit card issued by a national bank uses that card to purchase goods or services from a participating vendor, the issuing bank may impose a monthly interest charge on any resulting unpaid balances due which is higher than the maximum service charge permitted by RCW 63.14.120 in connection with a retail charge agreement. (2) In addition to imposing such a monthly interest charge in connection with merchandise purchase transactions, a national bank may lawfully charge its credit card holders a periodic credit card membership fee unrelated to any particular transactions involving use of the card during the period covered; however, that membership fee may not exceed $1 per month or $12 per year. 
AGO 1980 No. 12 >  May 20, 1980
REAL ESTATE - CONTRACTS - USURY
APPLICABILITY OF RCW 19.52.020 TO A REAL ESTATE CONTRACT FOR THE SALE OF RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY A two-party real estate contract for the sale of residential real property, involving only the owner-seller (whether commercial or private) of the real property and the purchaser thereof, is not subject to the twelve percent per annum interest limitation contained in Washington's usury statute, RCW 19.52.020.
AGO 1980 No. 13 >  May 22, 1980
OFFICES AND OFFICERS - CITY - TERMS - SALARIES
EFFECT OF RCW 29.04.170 ON TERMS AND SALARIES OF CITY OFFICERS (1) In the case of a city councilman, city treasurer, or city clerk elected in November, 1975, to fill a four-year term commencing on the second Tuesday in January, 1976, that term actually ended at midnight on December 31, 1979, as a consequence of the legislature's enactment of RCW 29.04.170. (2) As a result of this shortening of the terms of office involved, the incumbent officials holding those offices were not entitled to a full year's salary for each of the four years initially encompassed in their respective terms since the last year of their terms was shortened by approximately two weeks.
AGO 1980 No. 14 >  June 16, 1980
COUNTIES - TRANSPORTATION - BUSSES - COMMON CARRIERS
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COUNTY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY AND PREEXISTING PRIVATE CARRIER (1) A county public transportation authority organized under chapter 36.57 RCW may not extend its operations to routes already served by a private carrier holding a certificate of public convenience and necessity under RCW 81.68.040 without either acquiring the affected operating authority and equipment of the private carrier or entering into a contract with that carrier for provision of all or part of such service.(2) A county public transportation authority organized under chapter 36.57 RCW, when extending its operations to routes already served by a private carrier holding a certificate of public convenience and necessity under RCW 81.68.040, may perform part of such service itself and contract with the private carrier to continue to operate part of the service.
AGO 1980 No. 15 >  June 20, 1980
OFFICES AND OFFICERS - COUNTY - CORONER - DEATH
ISSUANCE OF PRESUMPTIVE DEATH CERTIFICATE Under the applicable state statutes relating to the issuance of death certificates (RCW 70.58.160-70.58.180) a county coroner does not have the authority to issue a presumptive death certificate based on circumstantial evidence where no body has been found
AGO 1980 No. 16 >  July 8, 1980
OFFICES AND OFFICERS - STATE - JUDGES OF THE SUPERIOR COURT - ELECTIONS
PROCEDURE TO FILL NEW JUDGESHIPS The new superior court judgeships created by chapter 202, Laws of 1979, 1st Ex. Sess. in Pierce, Kitsap and Cowlitz Counties, which are to take effect on January 1, 1981, are not to be filled initially by gubernatorial appointment but, instead, are constitutionally required to be filled by the election process both (a) for the short term from January 1 through 12, 1981 and (b) for the regular four-year term commencing on January 12, 1981.
AGO 1980 No. 17 >  July 30, 1980
CITIES AND TOWNS - POLICE POWERS - MOTOR VEHICLES - INTOXICATING LIQUOR
PENALITY FOR DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED IN VIOLATION OF MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE While a city or a town which adopts an ordinance defining and establishing as a municipal offense the crime driving while intoxicated must do so in terms identical to the statutory provisions of RCW 46.61.502, it is not also required to fix the same penalties for a violation as are fixed by the provisions of RCW 46.61.515.
AGO 1980 No. 18 >  August 28, 1980
RETIREMENT - PENSIONS - LEOFF RETIREMENT SYSTEM - DRUGS AND MEDICINE
MEDICAL SERVICES UNDER RCW 41.26.150 (1) In the case of a LEOFF Retirement System member seeking payment for medical services, an employer under chapter 41.26 RCW may be required to pay for drugs prescribed by a physician for the member regardless of whether or not the drug prescribed is one which can be legally purchased without a physician's prescription.(2) Syringes used to inject insulin do not constitute "drugs and medicine" under RCW 41.26.030(22)(b)(iii)(A).(3) It is a function of a LEOFF Disability Board established under RCW 41.26.110 not only to designate what medical services are to be provided to a sick or disabled member but, in addition, to designate the provider of medical services under RCW 41.26.150.
AGO 1980 No. 19 >  September 24, 1980
DISTRICTS - SCHOOLS - FUNDS - INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETICS
LEGAL STATUS OF STATE TOURNAMENT REVENUES (1) Revenues, such as the receipts from the sale of admission tickets and paid advertisements, which are realized from the conduct of state athletic tournaments by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association constitute private funds of the association and not public funds of the participating school districts and/or their student bodies.(2) The expenditure of public funds by a school district to pay travel, lodging, salary and other expenses incurred by the district as a result of the district's participation in a state athletic tournament conducted by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association does not constitute a gift of public money or property to the association in violation of Article VIII, § 7 of the Washington Constitution.
AGO 1980 No. 20 >  October 10, 1980
OFFICES AND OFFICERS - CITY - POLICE - COUNTY - SHERIFF - LAW ENFORCEMENT - COMMUNICATIONS
RECORDING OF EMERGENCY PHONE CALLS TO A POLICE AGENCY (1) Under the provisions of chapter 9.73 RCW, the "incoming phone calls" exception in RCW 9.73.090(1)(a) does permit a police agency to record those incoming calls which are not of an "emergency" nature(2) Assuming the foregoing, however, care must be taken in applying the "incoming phone calls" exception in RCW 9.73.090(1)(a) where the call is received by a police agent who has deliberately induced a criminal suspect, not yet arrested or formally charged, to make an incoming call to the police agency; there, wherever the spirit or the letter of the statute dictates taped mutual consent or judicial authorization prior to recording a telephone conversation with a criminal suspect, the "incoming calls" exception could well be held inapplicable even if single party consent is present.(3) The several statutory exceptions to the Privacy Act set forth in RCW 9.73.030(2), RCW 9.73.090(1)(a), RCW 9.73.090(1)(b) and RCW 9.73.090(2) do not overlap each other in such a way as to render any such exception(s) totally duplicative of another and therefore unnecessary and superfluous.
AGO 1980 No. 21 >  November 13, 1980
COUNTIES - CITIES AND TOWNS - JAILS - PRISONERS
COSTS OF HOUSING PRISONERS IN COUNTY JAILS If a city or town police officer arrests a person for committing a felony within the corporate limits of the city or town and turns such person over to the custody of the county sheriff because the arrest was for a violation of a state law and not a city or town ordinance, it is the county, and not the city, which is then responsible for paying the care, housing and board of such prisoner while he is in the county jail‑-both before and after arraignment.
AGO 1980 No. 22 >  November 19, 1980
DISTRICTS - SCHOOLS - TEACHERS
LIMITATION ON COMPENSATED LEAVE FOR SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES  (1) As amended by § 4, chapter 182, Laws of 1980, RCW 28A.58.100(2) prohibits a school district from granting as well as accumulating annual leave for illness, injury, and emergencies in excess of twelve days per year.  (2) As thus amended, however, RCW 28A.58.100(2) does not prohibit a school district from granting emergency leave separate from leave for illness and injury; nor is a school district prohibited from limiting the number of days of leave for emergencies to a specific number less than ten of the required ten days of leave for illness, injury, and emergencies for a full-time employee. (3) Any such emergency leave must, however, be so limited that it, together with leave for illness and injury, does not exceed twelve days per year.
AGO 1980 No. 23 >  November 25, 1980
HOMESTEADS - MOBILE HOMES - PROPERTY
CLAIMING MOBILE HOME AS HOMESTEAD PROPERTY A mobile home used or intended for use as a residence may be claimed as homestead property for the purposes of chapter 6.12 RCW so long as the claimant has a sufficient interest in the land upon which the mobile home is located to allow him to maintain the home on the property.
AGO 1980 No. 24 >  December 23, 1980
PENSIONS - RETIREMENT - INITIATIVE NO. 62
IMPACT ON PROPOSED PENSION LEGISLATION (1) In the event that the legislature amends the statutes governing the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) by increasing post-retirement benefits in such a manner as will require all employers, including local taxing districts, to make increased employer contributions to the retirement system, the provisions of section 6(1) of Initiative 62 will not require the state to reimburse those taxing districts for such increased contributions.(2) If the legislature amends the statutes governing the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) in such a manner as to require that local school districts make some form of "employers' contribution" to the system, the provisions of section 6(1) of Initiative 62 will likewise not require the state to reimburse those local school districts for such contributions; however, such legislation could cause section 6(3) of the initiative to become applicable unless the full cost to the school district resulting from the legislation is, in turn, covered by state funding in accordance with Wash. Const., Art. IX, section 1.(3) If the legislature acts to require that persons seeking to be employed as municipal fire fighters or law enforcement officers meet minimum medical and health standards in order to become eligible for such employment, and the taxing districts by which those personnel are employed thereby incur additional costs either in establishing or implementing such standards, the state will not be required by section 6(1) of Initiative 62 to reimburse those taxing districts for such costs.
AGO 1980 No. 25 >  December 31, 1980
COUNTIES - TRANSPORTATION - OLD AGE - CHILDREN - HANDICAPPED PERSONS
REDUCED OR ELIMINATED TRANSIT FARES FOR SENIOR CITIZENS, SCHOOL CHILDREN OR LOW INCOME OR HANDICAPPED INDIVIDUALS (1) A county transportation authority organized under chapter 36.57 RCW may entirely eliminate fares for all transit users if the system it operates can be sustained from taxes or other available revenues. (2) A county transportation authority may, likewise, reduce or eliminate fares for all classes of users during non-peak hours only, for the purpose of achieving a more balanced and economical operation.(3) Both because of a lack of statutory authority and possible constitutional objections under Washington Constitution, Article VIII, section 7, however, a county transportation authority may not, instead, directly reduce or eliminate fares only for (a) senior citizens, a category being created only on the basis of age, or (b) students attending public schools except (in the latter case) through an interlocal cooperation act agreement with participating school districts.(4) Likewise, although such action would not be constitutionally objectionable in the case of low income citizens or the handicapped, a county transportation authority presently lacks the requisite statutory authority to reduce or to entirely eliminate fares for those individuals.
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