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Bob Ferguson

AGO 1950 No. 271 - May 4 1950
Attorney General Smith Troy


Neither the Liquor Control Board nor any other state agency has the power to purchase real property for the purpose of constructing or establishing state liquor stores.

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                                                                    May 4, 1950

Honorable George Kinnear
Member of House of Representatives
1026 Henry Building
Seattle 1, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 271

Dear Sir:

            You requested our opinion with respect to two questions which you stated as follows:

            "1. Does the Washington State Liquor Board have the power and authority to purchase real estate for the purposes of constructing or establishing state owned liquor stores?

            "2. Could any other state department such as Public Institutions, for example, buy real estate for the same purpose and lease it to the Liquor Board?"

            The conclusions reached indicate a negative answer to both questions.


            In considering your first question, it is a general rule that the powers of an administrative agency of the state are derived from the legislature and its powers are limited by the statute creating it to those that are conferred expressly or by necessary or fair implication.  42 Am.Jur., Public Administrative Law 26, page 316.  The Washington State Liquor Control Board  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] is an administrative agency whose responsibility it is to administer the Washington state liquor act, being chapter 62, Laws of 1933, Ex. Sess. (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 7306-1 et seq.), and subsequent amendments thereto.

            Setion 69 of the Washington state liquor act, supra, as last amended by section 10 of chapter 174, Laws of 1935 (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 7306-69), provides:

            "1. The board, subject to the provisions of this act and the regulations, shall

            "* * *

            "c. provide for theleasing for periods not to exceed five years of all premises required for the conduct of the business; and for remodeling the same, and the procuring of their furnishings, fixtures, and supplies; and for obtaining options of renewal of such leases by the lessee.  The terms of such leases in all other respects shall be subject to the direction of the board;

            "* * *" (Underscoring ours.)

            The practical inquiry here is whether or not the Liquor Board has the power under section 69 of the liquor act to purchase real property that may be required for the conduct of its business.

            The essence, or vital element, of a statute is the intention of the legislature which enacted it, and the object or purpose of interpretation of statutes is to ascertain, if possible, and to give effect to, the intention of the lawmakers.  Featherstone v. Dessert, 173 Wash. 264, 22 P. (2d) 1050; McKenzie v. Mukilteo Water Dist., 4 Wn. (2d) 103, 102 P. (2d) 251.

            In construing a statute, resort must first be had to its context and subject matter and when, from the language of the statute, the legislative intent is clearly apparent, it must prevail.  Shorts v. Seattle, 95 Wash. 531, 164 Pac. 239; Shelton Hotel Co. v. Bates, 4 Wn. (2d) 498, 104 P. (2d) 478;Layton v. Home Indemnity Co., 9 Wn. (2d) 25, 114 P. (2d) 538.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Furthermore, it is a general principle of interpretation of a statute that the mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another thing.  50 Am.Jur. 244, Statutes, page 238.  This rule applies although there are no negative words excluding the things not mentioned.  A statute that directs a thing to be done in a particular manner implies that it shall not be done in any other manner.  State ex rel. Port of Seattle v. Dept. of Public Service, 1 Wn. (2d) 102, 95 P. (2d) 1007.

            By indicating its intention in section 69, supra, to authorize the Liquor Board to lease property for the conduct of its business, the legislature did not give the board power to acquire premises necessary for its business in any other manner.  Any other interpretation would leave the stated intention of the legislature meaningless.

            That the legislature intended to reserve to itself the power to authorize the acquisition of real property for use by the Liquor Board is further borne out by the fact that in 1935 it empowered the state capitol committee (chapter 146, Laws of 1935) to erect the present Public Lands and Social Security Building in the capitol group at Olympia for the use of said board and other state agencies, and, again, in 1947 it specifically authorized the board to purchase a site in the City of Seattle and construct thereon a building for warehouse purposes (chapter 134, Laws of 1947).

            Turning to your second question, as we have indicated, the powers of any administrative agency of the state are limited to those conferred by the legislature and, in the absence of statutory authority, and we can find none, no state agency may purchase real property for the purpose of constructing and establishing a liquor store and lease it to the Liquor Board.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General