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Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1974 No. 93 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton


RCW 43.24.085(b) does not allow out-of-state residents who are not over sixty-five years of age to pay only fifty percent of the standard license fee for their occupation or profession.

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                                                               November 12, 1974

Honorable Cecil C. Arnold
Chairman, Board of Registration
for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors
Division of Professional Licensing
P.O. Box 649
Olympia, Washington  98504                                                                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGLO 1974 No. 93

Dear Sir:
            By letter previously acknowledged you asked for our opinion concerning the following question:
            Does RCW 43.24.085(b) allow out-of-state residents who are not over sixty-five years of age to pay only fifty percent of the standard license fee for their occupation or profession?
            We answer this question in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.
            RCW 43.24.085 was enacted by § 21, chapter 266, Laws of 1971, 1st Ex. Sess., and provides as follows:
            "It shall be the policy of the state of Washington to determine license fees for businesses and professions on the following basis:
            "(a) There shall be a minimum fee of five dollars for any vocation.  Those vocations which normally work for others shall be in this classification.  Variations in fees by vocation shall be in multiples of five dollars as authorized by the legislature.
            "(b) There shall be a minimum fee of fifteen dollars for professions or proprietary vocations.  Each vocational group as set up by law shall have fees increased to cover the costs of that group as determined by the director:  Provided, That no fee shall exceed twenty-five dollars except those specifically authorized by the legislature:  Provided, further, That licensees over sixty-five years of age and retired or residing out-of-state shall pay only fifty percent of the standard fee for their classification."  (Emphasis supplied.)
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
            We have underscored the language which is relevant to your question.  As we read it, it means that in order to be qualified to pay only fifty percent of a license fee, an individual first must be over sixty-five years of age.  Then, in addition to that age requirement, the statute also requires that the individual either be retired or live out-of-state.
            To read the statute otherwise, so as to be applicable, instead, to all licensees who live out-of-state regardless of age, would require the insertion of two commas, one after the word "retired" and another after the word "state."  This, however, the legislature did not do, and we may not do so either, by way of interpretation.  In re Baker's Estate, 49 Wn.2d 609, 304 P.2d 1051 (1956).
            We trust the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General