OPINION OF THE JUSTICES

No. 153.

85 So.2d 391 (1956)

OPINION OF THE JUSTICES.

Supreme Court of Alabama.


Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

John Patterson, Atty. Gen., and Gordon Madison, Asst. Atty. Gen., Cabaniss & Johnston and Bowers, Dixon, Dunn & McDowell, Birmingham, amici curiae.


House Resolution 37.

Whereas, House Bill No. 160, as amended is now pending in the Legislature of Alabama; and

Whereas, important constitutional questions are presented by said House Bill and the amendment thereto:

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of Alabama that the Justices of the Supreme Court of Alabama are hereby respectfully requested to render their opinion as provided by Title 13, section 34, of the Code of Alabama of 1940, on the following important constitutional questions:

(1) If the bill, as amended by the said amendment, is enacted into law, will the issuance of bonds thereunder by Alabama Public Schools Corporation create a debt of the State within the meaning of Section 213 of the Constitution of Alabama, as amended? (2) If the bill, as amended by the said amendment, is enacted into law, will the appropriation made in Section 5 of the bill, as so amended, be subject to the proration requirements of Section 213 of the Constitution of Alabama, as amended? (3) If the bill, as amended as aforesaid, is enacted into law, will it constitute a general law within the meaning of Section 110 of the Constitution of Alabama? (4) Does the amendment so alter the bill as to change its original purpose, within the meaning of Section 61 of the Constitution of Alabama?

The bill as originally introduced was in pertinent part as follows:

A Bill To Be Entitled An Act To confer on the Public Schools Corporation additional power to borrow money and issue bonds to finance the operation of public schools at the level set for the biennium October 1, 1955— September 30, 1957. Be It Enacted By the Legislature Of Alabama: Section 1. The Public Schools Corporation created pursuant to Article 10 of Chapter 10, Title 52, Code of Alabama (1940) shall have the powers provided for in this Act in addition to the power and authority heretofore conferred upon the corporation. The purpose of this Act is to provide for the operation of public schools at the level set by appropriations made by the Legislature of Alabama for the biennium beginning October 1, 1955 and ending September 30, 1957. Section 2. The Public Schools Corporation shall have the power to borrow money within the limits herein provided, and in evidence of such borrowing to sell and issue its bonds and to refund any thereof by the issuance of refunding bonds, and as security for the payment of the principal of and interest on its bonds, to pledge the proceeds of the appropriations and pledges herein provided for. Section 5. For the purpose of providing funds to enable the corporation to pay the principal of and interest on any bonds issued by it under the provisions of this Act, and to accomplish the purposes and objects of its creation, there hereby are irrevocably pledged to such purposes and appropriated so much as may be necessary for such purpose of the proceeds of the use tax levied by Article 11 of Chapter 20, Title 51, Code 1940, as amended. All moneys hereby appropriated and pledged shall constitute a sinking fund for the purpose of paying the principal of and interest on bonds of the corporation. On passage the bill was amended as follows: Amend the caption of the bill to read as follows: To confer on Alabama Public Schools Corporation, organization of which is provided for in Article 10, Chapter 10, Title 52, Alabama Code of 1940, the power to borrow money and issue bonds for the purpose of financing the operation of public education, including institutions of higher learning, at the level set by appropriations for the biennium October 1, 1955, to September 30, 1957; to provide that such bonds and the income therefrom shall be exempt from taxation, and that such bonds may be used to secure deposits of funds of the state and its instrumentalities and agencies and for investment of trust funds, and shall not create an obligation or debt of the state; to provide that all bonds issued by said corporation may thereafter be refunded by the issuance of refunding bonds; to make appropriation and pledge of funds necessary to pay the principal of and interest on bonds of such corporation; to authorize said corporation to pledge such funds for payment of the principal of and interest on its bonds; and to provide that such principal and interest shall be payable solely from such funds, but that said bonds will nevertheless constitute negotiable instruments.

Also, amend section 1 of the bill to read as follows:

Section 1. The Public Schools Corporation created pursuant to Article 10 of Chapter 10, Title 52, Code of Alabama (1940) shall have the powers provided for in this Act in addition to the powers and authority heretofore conferred upon the corporation. The purpose of this Act is to provide for the operation of public education, including institutions of higher learning, at the level set by appropriations made by the Legislature for the biennium beginning October 1, 1955 and ending September 30, 1957.

Also, strike out Section 5 of the bill and insert the following in lieu thereof:

Section 5. For the purpose of providing funds to enable the corporation to pay the principal of and interest on any bonds issued by it under the provisions of this Act and to accomplish the purposes and objects of its creation, there are hereby irrevocably pledged to the payment of such principal and interest and appropriated for that purpose so much as may be necessary therefor of the proceeds of the use tax levied by Article 11 of Chapter 20, Title 51, Code 1940, as amended. If the proceeds of the use tax herein pledged are insufficient to pay said principal and interest, there are hereby irrevocably pledged to the payment thereof and hereby appropriated to that purpose so much as may be necessary therefor of the residue of the proceeds from the sales and use taxes levied with respect to tobacco by Article 9 of Chapter 20, Title 51, Code 1940, as amended, remaining after distribution of that portion of said taxes appropriated for old age assistance purposes. To the House of Representatives State Capitol Montgomery, Alabama

Dear Sirs:

We acknowledge receipt of your communication of the 6th day of February, 1956, in which we are asked to give our opinion on certain constitutional questions with reference to H.B. 160, as amended. In reply we answer as follows.

To the first question our answer is No. Alabama Public Schools Corporation, created under the provisions of § 279 et seq., Art. 10, Title 52, Code of 1940, is a public corporation and the bonds which H.B. 160 proposes to authorize that corporation to issue would not constitute debts of the State. Rogers v. Garlington, 234 Ala. 13, 173 So. 372; In re Opinion of the Justices, 225 Ala. 460, 143 So. 900; Scott v. Alabama State Bridge Corp., 233 Ala. 12, 169 So. 273; Alabama State Bridge Corp. v. Smith, 217 Ala. 311, 116 So. 695; In re Opinions of the Justices, 256 Ala. 170, 54 So.2d 68.

We do not answer Question No. 2 categorically for the reason that we are of the opinion that the following part of § 213 of the Constitution of 1901, as amended: "Any act creating or incurring any new debt against the state, except as herein provided for, shall be absolutely void." operates to make invalid legislation which pledges revenues of future fiscal years for the purpose of obtaining funds with which to meet current operating expenses and § 5 of the bill attempts to do just this. Norton v. Lusk, 248 Ala. 110, 26 So.2d 849, and cases cited; In re Opinions of Justices, 252 Ala. 468, 41 So.2d 771; In re Opinions of Justices, 238 Ala. 293, 191 So. 82. We realize that Question No. 2 as framed may not require such an answer, but we feel that our response should not be narrowly limited in view of the importance of this matter to the public.

To the third question our answer is Yes. The bill proposed is a general law within the meaning of § 110 of the constitution.—Opinion of the Justices, Ala., 83 So.2d 732.

To the fourth question our answer is No. Section 61 of the Constitution of Alabama reads as follows: "No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so altered or amended on its passage through either house as to change its original purpose."

The bill as first introduced shows that "The purpose of this Act is to provide for the operation of public schools, * * *." The amendment to the act provides that "The purpose of this Act is to provide for public education, including institutions of higher learning * * *." Under the Alabama cases public schools have never been understood to include higher institutions of learning like colleges and universities. Elsberry v. Seay, 83 Ala. 614, 3 So. 804; State Tax Commission v. County Board of Education of Jefferson County, 235 Ala. 388, 179 So. 197; In re Opinions of the Justices, 229 Ala. 98, 155 So. 699. However the purpose of a bill within the meaning of § 61 of the constitution is the general purpose of the bill, not mere details through which the purpose is to be manifested and effectuated. State Docks Commission v. State ex rel. Jones, 227 Ala. 521, 150 So. 537. It is our duty to uphold the constitutionality of an act of the legislature by adopting any reasonable construction of which it is susceptible. Standard Oil Co. v. State, 178 Ala. 400, 59 So. 667. And in determining the legislative intent in a bill we must look to the entire bill and not to isolated phrases or clauses in the bill. State v. Western Union Telegraph Co., 196 Ala. 570, 72 So. 99. It will be noted that in the original bill the purpose of the bill as stated in section 4 is to prevent any deficit in the appropriations for any fiscal year made in Act No. 343 approved September 5, 1955. These appropriations according to Act No. 343 relate to public education, the normal schools and the institutions of higher learning, among others. It can, therefore, well be said that the Act as originally proposed relates to public education including institutions of higher learning when all of the provisions of the Act are considered. If this be true, then the term public schools in the original bill was used in a more comprehensive sense than that indicated by the aforecited cases. In fact the amendment can be considered as clarifying the purposes and intent of the bill in its use of the term "public schools." Cook v. Burke, 177 Ala. 155, 58 So. 984; Blackwell v. State, 230 Ala. 139, 162 So. 310. Accordingly, the original purpose of the bill is not changed by the amendment. In re Opinion of the Justices, 249 Ala. 500, 31 So.2d 644; In re Opinion of the Justices, 252 Ala. 525, 41 So.2d 758.

Respectfully submitted, J. ED. LIVINGSTON Chief Justice. THOMAS S. LAWSON DAVIS F. STAKELY JOHN L. GOODWYN PELHAM J. MERRILL Associate Justices. MAYFIELD, Justice.

I concur in the answers of this Court to the questions propounded by House Resolution No. 37-1, 3 and 4.

It is my opinion that the answer made by my Brethren to Question 2 of the House Resolution is beyond the scope and kin of the statute authorizing advisory opinions. To Question 2, I would simply answer, Yes.


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