Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1992 NO. 1 >

1.   Chapter 17.10 RCW establishes weed control boards to regulate noxious weeds.  RCW 17.10.040 sets out the procedure to activate a county noxious weed control board.  When a weed control board has not been activated, a county can nevertheless regulate noxious weeds under the authority of chapter 17.10 RCW, but only when a weed control board has been ordered to activate by the director of the Department of Agriculture.  A county may not continue without a weed control board for a second consecutive year.   2.   Article 11, section 11 of the Washington Constitution grants counties broad police power related to the general welfare of the people.  This authority must be consistent with laws enacted by the Legislature.  The Legislature has enacted a comprehensive system to regulate noxious weeds.  A county's exercise of authority to regulate noxious weeds under the police power would be inconsistent with this system.  Therefore, a county may not regulate noxious weeds pursuant to its police power authority.

AGO 1963 NO. 4 >

(1) The legislature of the state of Washington may enact a law in the exercise of its police power requiring all apples and other fruit being shipped into the state to meet state grades notwithstanding the grades, if any, of the state of origin, providing that the fruit was not being shipped into Washington according to federal grades.  Any legislation would be inoperative if any of the state grades adopted were in direct conflict with any federal grades being used pursuant to any act of Congress which would allow the interstate shipment of fruit according to federal grades.(2) Same:  Such a law could be enforced by various means including "stop-sale orders," "embargoes," "seizures" and criminal sanctions.

AGO 1967 NO. 7 >

Under existing federal and state law, there is considerable doubt as to the authority of a county when enacting an ordinance establishing regulations pertaining to speed and manner of operation of motorboats to include therein a provision that motorboats may not be used on waters of the particular county unless numbered in accordance with a registration requirement of that county or of some other county or state having a similar registration requirement.

AGO 1993 NO. 11 >

Counties have the authority to define certain local offenses and to prescribe penalties for their commission including the imposition of specific costs.  Subject to certain limitations, a county may include as a cost a multiple booking fee imposed on persons convicted of such county offenses and sentenced to serve time in the county jail on intermittent days.  Such a multiple booking fee could offset the cost to the county of processing the individual in and out of jail.2.  A county does not have the authority to impose a multiple booking fee on individuals serving time in the county jail on intermittent days who have been convicted of violating a state statute.  The Legislature, rather than the county, specifies the punishment for state crimes including costs.

AGLO 1979 NO. 13 >

The provisions of RCW 64.32.110, a section of the horizontal property regimes act (condominiums) of 1963, have no effect on local police power regulations which do not relate to zoning (e.g., building codes) ‑- as distinguished from the pertinent provisions of local zoning codes themselves.

AGO 1982 NO. 14 >

(1) A county, city or town may not, in the exercise of its police power, enact a general prohibition against the sale or possession of handguns, at any time or place, within the limits of its territorial jurisdiction because such an ordinance would have the effect of prohibiting conduct which state law, instead, sanctions and regulates. (2) A county, city or town may not require the presentation of a concealed weapons permit as a condition to the sale of handgun ammunition because of an express statutory preemption by the state, in RCW 70.74.201, of the regulation, in general, of small arms ammunition. (3) A county, city or town police power ordinance prohibiting the possession of firearms, including handguns, on public or private school grounds or college campuses within its territorial jurisdiction would be valid because such an ordinance would not be in conflict with state law under the applicable, judicially enunciated, test.

AGO 1983 NO. 14 >

(1) The provisions of § 12, chapter 232, Laws of 1983, prohibiting cities, towns and counties from enacting local laws and ordinances which are inconsistent with, or more restrictive than, that 1983 act do not bar such a municipality from regulating or restricting the possession or use of firearms in specified places (such as taverns, cocktail lounges, public and private schools and institutions of higher learning, municipal and superior court rooms, or city and county jails by visitors and inmates) -even by one who has lawfully obtained a state concealed weapons permit. (2) The provisions of RCW 9.94.040 and 9.94.043, relating to the possession of firearms on the premises of state penal or correctional institutions, do not apply to county or city jails. (3) Although a superior court may, under certain circumstances, order the forfeiture of a firearm possessed by one who was under the influence of intoxicating liquor pursuant to § 6(1)(d), chapter 232, Laws of 1983, the aforesaid act does not make the mere possession of a concealed weapon by such a person a misdemeanor.

AGO 1975 NO. 17 >

(1) A county ordinance adopted under Article XI, § 11 of the state constitution may not require the owner of land abutting a county road intersection, without compensation, to remove preexisting trees and other vegetation or structures from within a prescribed distance of the intersection in order to provide an unobstructed view across the owner's land for vehicles approaching the intersection.  (2) A county may, however, secure the removal of such sight obstructions at an intersection by exercising its constitutional powers of eminent domain.

AGO 1975 NO. 18 >

There is a sufficient basis in Article XI, § 11 of the Washington constitution for upholding a properly drawn ordinance by which a county, including one which has not adopted a home rule charter pursuant to Article XI, § 4 of the constitution, would establish day care services for the children of working mothers who are residents thereof; the appropriate tests for determining the validity of such an ordinance are (1) whether the enactment falls within the range of concerns which the courts have recognized as acceptable areas for the exercise of the police power and (2) whether the measure represents a reasonable method of reaching an objective of that power.

AGO 1984 NO. 27 >

(1) The validity of a local ordinance making it either a criminal or civil offense to be in possession of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs will not turn on RCW 9.41.290, in the sense that such a local ordinance is, or is not, thereby statutorily preempted; instead, it will depend upon the effect which a particular ordinance has on constitutionally-protected rights. (2) A local ordinance providing for the mandatory forfeiture of a firearm in the possession of one who is intoxicated would be within the purview of RCW 9.41.290 and, therefore, would be required to be consistent with its state statutory counterpart (RCW 9.41.098) in order to be legally effective.