Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1951 No. 474 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


Incorrect references to RCW are patent errors which do not invalidate Senate Bill No. 115 of the 1951 legislature.

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                                                                   March 7, 1951

His Excellency
Arthur B. Langlie
Governor of the State of Washington
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 474

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of March 6, 1951, relative to Senate Bill No. 115 of the 1951 legislature relating to sales tax tokens in which you point out that references to sections of the Revised Code of Washington in the title do not correspond to those in the body of the act, with respect to sections 2, 3 and 5; and the RCW reference in section 1 shows the section as derived from section 21, chapter 180, Laws of 1935, whereas the section of RCW derived from that section and chapter bears a different number in the Code.  You ask our opinion as to the validity of the act.

            It is our conclusion that these errors do not invalidate the statute, but that the code sections intended may be ascertained from the context of the act.


            Section 1 of the bill begins as follows:

            "Section 82.08.05 RCW [[RCW 82.28.050]]as derived from section 21, chapter 180, Laws of 1935, is amended to read as follows:"

            Section 21, chapter 180, Laws of 1935, was amended by section 6, chapter 228, Laws of 1949.  That section relates to the collection of the sales tax and tax tokens.  The matter is set out in the 1950 supplement of the Revised Code of  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] Washington under section number 82.08.050.  The original edition of the Revised Code of Washington has a section 82.08.05 [[RCW 82.28.050]]which relates to taxes on certain mechanical devices.  It is obvious from the text of the matter set out that an ambiguity exists since the matter in section 82.08.05 [[RCW 82.28.050]]could not have been derived from section 21, chapter 180, Laws of 1935, nor is the context of the amendment in any manner similar to the text of 82.08.05 [[RCW 82.28.050]].  The unamended portion of the text set out is exactly the same as the text of section 82.08.050 of the 1950 supplement [[RCW 82.28.050]].  Since a patent ambiguity exists, resort 82.08.050 of the 1950 supplement.  Since a patent ambiguity exists, resort may be had to extrinsic aids, including the legislative history to determine the meaning of the statute.  Our Supreme Court said in the case ofState ex rel. Fair v. Hamilton, 92 Wash. 347, 159 Pac. 379:

            "* * * It is a rule, also, that when the language is ambiguous or contradictory, the courts may resort to extrinsic aids to ascertain its intent and purpose, * * *"

            A reference to extrinsic facts will show that this measure was originally introduced into the legislature by Senate Bill 115 and prior to amendment, section 1 was numbered section 82.08.050 [[RCW 82.28.050]].  An amendment introduced in the Senate inserted the number 82.08.05 [[RCW 82.28.050]].  This amendment did not in any manner, however, change the text.  The title to the act reads:

            "AN ACT Relating to taxation, discontinuing the use of tax tokens * * *"

            This title clearly shows that it was intended to discontinue the use of tax tokens.  An amendment to section 82.08.05 [[RCW 82.28.050]]would not be relevant to this object.  It can only be assumed that the change of the figure to 82.08.05 [[RCW 82.28.050]]was in error.  Since the entire context of the amendment, the session law reference, and the title indicate that the section actually amended was section 82.08.050 [[RCW 82.28.050]], it is our opinion that the amendment is valid and constitutes an amendment to section 82.08;050 RCW [[RCW 82.28.050]].

            The remaining sections of Senate Bill 115 in the body of the bill bear numbers which accord with the code designations of the subject matter, but the numbers vary from those contained in the title.  Thus, the title reads in part:

            "* * * amending sections * * * 82.08.06 [[RCW 82.28.060]], 82.08.07 [[RCW 82.28.070]]and repealing section 83.08.13 [[RCW 83.08.130]]."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            No corresponding sections will be found in either the original edition of the Revised Code of Washington or in the 1950 supplement.  It is our opinion that these figures in the title must be regarded as patent errors and the statute must be construed as referring to the sections contained in the body of the act which are readily identifiable with the context and with the matter set out.

            It is our conclusion, then, that section 1 refers to section 82.08.050 [[RCW 82.28.050]]of the Revised Code of Washington as found in the 1950 supplement and the statute amends, in addition, sections 82.02.06 [[RCW 82.08.060]], 82.02.07 [[RCW 82.08.070]], and repeals, 82.02.13 [[RCW 82.08.130]]RCW. amends, in addition, sections 82.02.06, 82.02.07, and repeals, 82.02.13 RCW.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General