AGLO 1971 No. 13 - Jan 27 1971
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January 27, 1971
Honorable August P. Mardesich
State Senator, 38th District
Olympia, Washington 98501
Cite as: AGLO 1971 No. 13 (not official)
This is written in response to your recent request for our opinion on two questions pertaining to the interim committee on banking, insurance and transportation which was established during the first extraordinary session of the 1969 legislature through its adoption of Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 33.
We paraphrase your questions as follows:
(1) May expenses incurred by the interim committee on banking, insurance and transportation during the period between adjournment of the 1969 1st Ex. Sess., and the commencement of the 1971 regular session on January 11, 1971, be paid, notwithstanding that the vouchers for payment are submitted on or after January 11, 1971?
(2) Can the interim committee on banking, insurance and transportation, as created by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 33 (1969 1st Ex. Sess.) continue to incur expenses and expend funds from its 1969-71 appropriation after January 11, 1971?
We answer the first of these questions in the affirmative and the second in the negative.
Of course, as you are aware, interim committees of the legislature have long been recognized as constituting valid exercises of the powers of the legislative branch of the government. See, State ex rel. Hamblen v. Yelle, 29 Wn.2d 68, 185 P.2d 723 (1947); and State ex rel. Robinson v. Fluent, 30 Wn.2d 194, 191 P.2d 241 (1948). Notably, the first of these two cases involved the legislative council, which was created by statute (chapter 36, Laws of 1947, later amended by chapter 206, Laws of 1955) pursuant to which it now exists as a permanent body until [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] such time as the act by which it was created is repealed. On the other hand, the second of the two cited cases involved an interim committee known as the "joint legislative fact-finding committee on un-American activities" which (like the committee which is the subject of your questions) had been created by concurrent resolution.
In so far as the differing means of creation of these two interim committees was concerned, the court in the Fluent case said:
"There is no difference in principle between the legislative council created by the Laws of 1947, chapter 36, and the interim committee created by house concurrent resolution No. 10 of the 1947 session of the legislature. Both are investigating committees, and each is given substantially the same powers of investigation. The difference between them is one of means of creation. The legislative council was created by statute, while the interim committee under consideration in the case at bar was created by concurrent resolution. . . ."
The question of when, in point of time, an interim committee is to be regarded as being authorized to function ‑ and whether it is to be a permanent body or one having only a temporary existence during a single interim between the session when it was created and the next one ‑ is to be ascertained on the basis of the governing statute or resolution to which the particular committee owes its existence. Thus, at this point, it will be necessary for us to examine the text of Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 33. This resolution reads as follows:
"WHEREAS, Laws and regulations relating to regulatory agencies are of vital concern to the citizens of the state of Washington; and
"WHEREAS, Matters of insurance and matters controlled by regulatory agencies are matters of significance and importance to the personal budget of practically every citizen of the state of Washington; and
"WHEREAS, There is an urgent need existing within this state for a comprehensive study to determine how, in fact, the public's interest is being furthered and protected in these areas under present laws and regulations; and
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
"WHEREAS, It is the duty of the legislature to conduct such studies;
"NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, By the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring, that the President of the Senate shall appoint five Senate members and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint five House members, not more than three of said members from each of the respective Houses to be of the same political party, to serve as an Interim Committee on Banking, Insurance and Transportation, hereinafter in this Resolution referred to as the committee, to make a study of how the public's interest is being furthered and protected under present laws and regulations; and
"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the committee so appointed is authorized to counsel with such private and public agencies and the officials thereof as the committee shall so decide, and every public official, employee and agency within the state shall extend their fullest effort to carry out the purposes of this concurrent resolution; and
"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the committee may promulgate rules and regulations for the administration of its duties, may conduct hearings and shall have the powers prescribed by chapter 44.16 RCW for legislative committees. The committee shall elect its own chairman and may employ such help and technical and legal assistance as the committee deems necessary for the proper and efficient performance of its duties. The committee shall publish and distribute to all members and members-elect of the legislature a report together with its recommendations prior to January 1, 1971; and
"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the members so appointed shall receive an allowance in lieu of per diem, and mileage, when engaged in the business of the committee and traveling to and from such business if at a place other than their usual place of residence, as provided in RCW 44.04.120, the same to be paid upon their individual vouchers from any sums of money appropriated for the expenses of the committee."
[[Orig. Op. Page 4]]
Two features of this resolution lead us to the conclusion that the interim committee which was established under its provisions was intended to be only a temporary committee operating during a single interim. First, in the third recited clause reference is made to "a comprehensive study" in the singular; and secondly, in the concluding sentence of the next to last paragraph of the resolution, it is stated that:
". . . The committee shall publish and distribute to all members and members-elect of the legislature a report together with its recommendations prior to January 1, 1971; . . ."
Thus it appears that the only functions which this interim committee was assigned to perform were to be completed in advance of the commencement of the 1971 session on the second Tuesday in January of 1971 ‑ i.e., January 11, 1971.
Based upon the foregoing, our answers to your two questions are as follows:
(1) Unquestionably, those expenses properly incurred by the interim committee on banking, insurance and transportation during those periods it was authorized to function may be paid, even though certain vouchers for payment are not finally processed until after its capacity to function has ceased; however,
(2) the aforesaid interim committee cannot be regarded as having any authority to incur any further expenses after the expiration of the interim for which it was created ‑ unless, of course, it should be re‑created [[recreated]]to function during the next interim following adjournment of the 1971 legislature, either by another concurrent resolution or by statute. Accord, opinion dated January 4, 1949, to State Representative Clinton S. Harley, copy enclosed, regarding the tenure of the first legislative council established under chapter 36, Laws of 1947.
We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General