Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Pending Attorney General's Office Formal Opinion Requests

The Washington Attorney General issues formal published opinions in response to requests by the heads of state agencies, state legislators, and county prosecuting attorneys.  When the Attorney General's Office receives a request for a formal opinion, a summary of that opinion request will be published here and distributed via our mailing list

Formal Requests:

Informal Requests:

If you are interested in commenting on any of these requests, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by the date listed below each request.  This is not the due date by which comments must be received.  However, if you do not notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest in commenting on an opinion request by this date, the opinion may be issued before your comments have been received. 

 You may notify the Attorney General’s Office of your intention to comment by:

  • Writing to the Office of the Attorney General, Solicitor General Division, Attention: Jeff Even, Deputy Solicitor General, P.O. Box 40100, Olympia, Washington 98504-0100;  or
  • Emailing jeff.even@atg.wa.gov.

When you notify the office of your intention to comment, you may be provided with:

  • A copy of the opinion request in which you are interested;
  • Information about the Attorney General’s Opinion process;
  • Information on how to submit your comments; and 
  • A due date by which your comments must be received to ensure that they are fully considered.

 

Formal Opinion Requests:

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 16-12-01: Request by the Honorable Steve Conway, State Senator, District 29

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by January 11, 2017.

Does the invocation of survivor rights for a designated spouse under RCW 41.18.042 alone, and not under RCW 41.26.164, mean that the payment of survivor rights to the decedent firefighter's surviving spouse is the full benefit to which that surviving spouse is entitled under RCW 41.18 or is the benefit that which is mandated by RCW 4.1.18 minus the benefit that would have been offset under RCW 41.26 had the decedent firefighter invoked the 2002 or 2005 RCW 41.26 statutes?

Entire text of original request

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 16-11-01: Request by Isabel Mûnoz-Colón, Chair, Washington State Board of Education

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by December 14, 2016.

Is a waiver from basic education requirements by the State Board of Education, acting under the authority granted by RCW 28A.305.140, needed in order for a school district to use a full scheduled day on the school calendar for the purpose of teacher-parent-guardian conferences as defined in RCW 28A.150.205?

Entire text of original request

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 16-08-04: Request by Teri Wright, Executive Director, Washington Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Official

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by September 28, 2016.

1. Can the Commission be legally combined with another agency? If so, are there limitations? How can it be accomplished?

2. After the Commission determines a proposed salary schedule, can the Commission exclusively hold regular meetings, for the purpose of public testimony, via telephone conference call?

Entire text of original request

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 16-08-02: Request by the Honorable Kevin Van De Wege, State Representative, District 24

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by September 14, 2016.

Are the meetings of the local FACs, and of the FAC executive committee, subject to RCW 42.30, the Open Public Meetings Act?

Entire text of original request

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 16-05-03: Request by Jay P. Weber, Executive Director, Washington State County Road Administration Board

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by June 22, 2016.

May any county retain its eligibility to participate in the Rural Arterial Program under the limitations imposed by RCW 36.79.140 and article 40, section 2 of the Washington Constitution if the county chooses to divert County Road Levy Property Tax for general government purposes, under RCW 36.33.220, to fund: (1) civil or criminal traffic prosecutions, (2) court costs of adjudication (3) indigent defense (4) incarceration, and/or (5) coroner activities?

Entire text of original request

 

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 16-01-01: Request by the Honorable Marcus Riccelli, State Representative, District 3

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by April 27, 2016.

1. Does RCW 42.23.070(4) restrict public officials from disclosing information shared during meetings conducted as executive sessions under the Open Public Meetings Act?  If so, does the statute categorically prohibit disclosure, or is its reach limited to “confidential information”?  If limited, how should public officials define “confidential information”?

2. If RCW 42.23.070(4) does prohibit public officials from disclosing information exchanged during executive sessions, would a violation of that prohibition constitute a misdemeanor under RCW 42.20.100 (“Failure of duty by a public wrongful conduct”) and/or “official misconduct” under RCW 9A.80.010?

Entire text of original request

 


Opinion Docket No. 16-03-01: Request by James Nagle, Prosecuting Attorney, Walla Walla County

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by April 13, 2016.

1. Does RCW 41.14.140 apply to the unclassified service (exempt) positions in RCW 41.14.070?

2. Does the Board of County Commissioners have the authority pursuant to RCW 36.16.070 or RCW 41.14.140 to "consent" (or not consent) to the creation of new offices authorized as unclassified service (exempt) positions by RCW 41.14.070?

3. Does the Board of County Commissioners have the authority to "consent" (or not consent) to the selection of specific positions authorized as unclassified service (exempt) under RCW 41.14.070?

4. If the Sheriff, with the consent of the Civil Service Commission, makes changes to the job titles and job descriptions of one or more of the already existing unclassified service positions authorized by RCW 41.14.070, are such new job titles and job descriptions subject to the "consent" of the Board of County Commissioners under RCW 36.16.070 or RCW 41.14.140?

5. Does the answer to number 4 depend on whether the change in position title or job description may result in a salary adjustment to the position(s)?

6. If an adjustment to salary is required, is the board still required to "fix the compensation" pursuant to RCW 36.16.070?

7. If the creation, selection or job title or job description change does require the "consent" of the Board of County Commissioners, what factors may the Board consider, in light of the holdings of Osborn v. Grant County, 130 Wn. 2d 615 (1996), and Crossler v. Hille, 136 Wn. 2d 287 (1998)? t In Osborn, the Court interpreted the "consent" term in RCW 36.16.070, holding that, "It is clear from this paragraph that the board has the power to create and fund employee positions in county offices." Osborn at 622-623. In the case of Crossler v. Hille, the Court held that, "The commissioners have the ability to authorize and fund a position, but this authority does not extend to specific personnel decisions." Crossler at 294. However, the Court also held that, "In the present case, the County Commissioners have no authority to impose employment policies on a district court judge." Id. The Court further held that, "We have recognized the limited authority of county commissioners in the past and there is no reason to change our position in this case." Id. at 295.

8. If the Board has set compensation for a position previously, may the Sheriff pay an individual less than the compensation the Board has set?

9. Are there any "deputy" positions in any of the county elected offices that RCW 36.16.070 would not apply to?

10. Does the holdin in Crossler v. Hille, 136 Wn. 2d 287 (1998) change the analysis in AGO 1982 No. 8 9

11. Is the Board of County Commissioners required by statute to fund an unclassified service position in the Sheriff's Office created by RCW 41.14.070?

12. Does the Board of County Commissioners or the Civil Service Commission have the authority to review job descriptions for unclassified service positions in the Sheriff's Office created by RCW 41.14.070 before they can be filled?

Entire text of original request

 


Opinion Docket No. 16-02-01: Request by Chris Liu, Director, Washington State Department of Enterprise Services

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by March 23, 2016.

1.  Does I-200 prohibit the State from implementing rece- or sex-conscious measure to address significant disparities in the public contracting sector that are documented in disparity study if it is first determined that race- and sex-neutral measures will be insufficient to address those disparities.

2.  Does the answer to the first question depend on whether the contracts at issue are being awarded by a state agency that receives federal funds and is therefore subject to Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act?

Entire text of original request

 


Opinion Docket No. 15-10-01: Request by the Honorable Sam Hunt, State Representative, District 22

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by November 16, 2015.

1.  Are the positions of school board director and planning commission member incompatible under Washington law? How is that determination made and, if the positions are incompatible, what remedies are available to address the incompatibility?

2. Is there a conflict of interest between such dual positions under Washington law? How is that determination made, and if a conflict or potential conflict exists, what remedies are available to address it?

3. Does holding such dual positions violate the appearance of fairness provisions of RCW 42.36? How is that determination made, and what remedies are available to address it?

4. In the scenario presented, what obligations does Washington law impose on the person holding dual positions in regard to confidential information?

5. Under what circumstances, if any, may a school board exclude an elected member from executive session because of concerns about incompatibility of office, conflict of interest, appearance of fairness or confidential information?

Entire text of original request

 


 

Informal Opinion Requests:

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 16-08-05: Request by the Honorable Christopher Hurst, State Representative, District 31

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by September 13, 2016.

Are local and county police departments able to use unmarked vehicles to patrol traffic?

Entire text of original request

 


Opinion Docket No. 15-08-01: Request by Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by August 12, 2015.

1. Does the prohibition in article XV, section 1 of the Washington Constitution on giving, selling, or leasing "any rights whatever" to private parties in the waters beyond the harbor lines bar DNR from granting private parties the right to anchor or moor in a waterway immediately beyond an outer harbor line?

2. How long may a private party moor or anchor in a waterway immediately beyond an outer harbor line without authorization from DNR before the moorage or anchorage becomes a trespass?

For a link to the Supplemntal Map of Seattle Harbor click here.

Entire text of original request

 


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