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Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1961 No. 9 -
Attorney General John J. O'Connell


The legislature may appropriate monies from the general fund-capitol building construction account for the purpose of remodeling and renovating the legislative building.

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                                                                 February 9, 1961

Honorable Bert L. Cole
Commissioner of Public Lands
Secretary, State Capitol Committee
Public Lands-Social Security Building
Olympia, Washington

                                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 61-62 No. 9

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            May the legislature appropriate monies (not otherwise committed) from the general fund-capitol building construction account for the purpose of remodeling and renovating the legislative building?

            We answer your question in the affirmative.



            The general fund-capitol building construction account was created under authority of RCW 43.79.330 and is the repository for: (1) revenues arising from federal land grants to the state of Washington for capitol building purposes (Enabling Act, §§ 12, 17; § 1, chapter 12, Laws of 1923, cf. RCW 43.34.060); and, (2) proceeds of certain capitol building bond issues (see chapter 79.24 RCW).

            At the present time, not all of the revenues from capitol building lands are deposited in the capitol building construction account: a portion of such revenues are currently being diverted to the capitol building bond redemption fund for the purpose of  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] paying bonds issued under authority of chapter 62, Laws of 1957 (RCW 49.24.200 through 79.24.280).

            These monies must be used for the purpose of redeeming the bonds and nothing we say herein is intended to be applicable to them.

            As we have noted above, the capitol building construction account may contain proceeds of capitol building bond issues.  These monies are already committed to specific purposes.  Neither your question nor this opinion is intended to apply to these monies.

            Thus, if we may restate your question at this point, the question before us is:

            May the legislature appropriate revenues from capitol building lands for the purpose of remodeling and renovating the legislative building, where to so do will not conflict with any outstanding bond issue?

            We have answered this question in the affirmative.

            The state, in accepting the grant of capitol building lands from the federal government, became the absolute owner of title to the lands, but holds them and the revenues arising from them in trust for the purpose specified in the Enabling Act.  State ex rel. Capitol Committee v. Clausen, 134 Wash. 196, 235 Pac. 364 (1925);State ex rel. Bookstore v. Potts, 141 Wash. 110, 250 Pac. 1090 (1926); Washington Constitution, Article XVI, § 1; RCW 79.24.020.

            The purpose of the grant of lands to this state for capitol building purposes is set forth in § 12 of the Enabling Act, as amended by Public Law 85-6, approved February 26, 1957 (71 Stat. 5).  For convenience we set forth the section below to show its original and amended terms.  (Deletions made by Public Law 85-6 are bracketed; additions are underscored.)

            "That upon the admission of each of said States into the Union, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, fifty sections of [the] unappropriated public lands within [said] such States, to be selected and located in legal subdivisions as provided in section 10 of this Act, shall be, and are hereby, granted to said States for [the purpose of erecting] public buildings at the capital of said States for legislative, executive, and judicial purposes,including  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] construction, reconstruction, repair, renovation, furnishings, equipment, and any other permanent improvement of such buildings and the acquisition of necessary land for such buildings, and the payment of principal and interest on bonds issued for any of the above purposes."  25 Stat. 680; 71 Stat. 5.

            It has been held that even without the amendment, it was proper for a state, if it so chose, to use capitol land grant revenues for the purpose of remodeling and renovating an existing legislative building.  State ex rel. Morgan v. State Board of Examiners, 131 Mont. 188, 309 P. (2d) 336 (1957).  In any event, since amendment by Public Law 85-6, remodeling and renovation is clearly within the trust purposes.

            We trust that the foregoing information will be of assistance.


Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General