The exemption of the plaintiff from special assessments was valid when the legislature chartered the plaintiff by special legislature in 1865 and 1868. Exemptions from special assessments are within the discretion of the legislature and need not follow the rule of uniformity applied
The exemption from special assessments was granted to the plaintiff by the process of legislation by reference. Although this device has been the subject of criticism, referential legislation is a common practice. The effect of incorporating the provisions of another statute by words of reference rather than by verbatim repetition of the provisions of the statute previously enacted is to make the earlier or adopted statute as much a part of the later or incorporating statute as though the provisions had been set forth verbatim and at length. 168 A. L. R. 627; 50 Am. Jur., Statutes, p. 58, sec. 38. In construing referential legislation, it is, therefore, necessary to look beyond the four corners of the incorporating statute and include within its periphery the incorporated or adopted provisions of the other statute.
The question in this case is, What is the effect on the incorporating statute of a subsequent repeal of the incorporated statute? If there is a repeal of the incorporated statute, Does such repeal flow back through the reference and excise from the incorporating statute the repealed statute so as to leave the incorporating statute bereft of its reference? In the absence of legislative intent which does not appear in the special charter, resort must be had to rules of construction. In
The distinction between a general and a specific reference lies in the manner of reference and what is incorporated. A specific reference refers specifically to a particular statute by its title or section number and incorporates only a part of the law on a subject. A general reference refers generally
However, the respondent city claims that this rule of construction has been repudiated by Glendenning Motorways v. Green Bay & W. R. Co. (1949), 256 Wis. 69, 39 N.W.2d 694, which case was cited and discussed in Borden Co. v. Minneapolis, St. P. & S. S. M. R. Co. (1955), 270 Wis. 601, 72 N.W.2d 336, and Lang v. Chicago & N. W. R. Co. (1951), 258 Wis. 610, 46 N.W.2d 844. It is true this court failed to apply this rule of construction to a specific reference in the Glendenning Case. That case involved the applicability of sec. 85.92, Stats., which required any motor vehicle described in sec. 40.34 and sec. 194.01 to come to a full stop before crossing the main-line tracks of a railroad. It was urged that sec. 85.92 only applied to buses but the court found by reference to sec. 194.01 that the section also applied to motor carriers of property. The opinion does not point out that sec. 194.01 had been amended to include motor carriers of property after the date of reference and the point was not raised in the three cases cited and relied on by the court. The most that can be said is this court failed to apply the rule of construction of specific reference. However, the decision did not reject the rule or discuss it.
The city argues ch. 205, R. S. 1878, clearly evinces an intent to repeal all prior statutes which were incorporated in older statutes and into private and local laws. True, ch. 67,
The final question presented is whether sec. 66.64, Stats., which was sec. 75.65 in the older statutes and was enacted in 1903, repealed the plaintiff's exemption as decided by the trial court. This section enacted as ch. 425, Laws of 1903, was entitled "An act making the property of municipal, railroad, and other corporations, liable for special assessments for local improvements, and providing for the collection thereof." It provided:
"The property of every county, city, village, town, and school district, within this state, and of every corporation, company, or individual operating any railroad or street railway, telegraph, telephone, electric light or power system, or doing any of the business mentioned in chapter 51 of the statutes of 1898, and of every other corporation or company whatever, shall be in all respects subject to all special assessments for local improvements..."
The city contends the language of this section was intended to be complete, all-embracing, and to cover the subject matter of special assessments and, therefore, it is reasonably apparent that the legislature intended by implication to repeal the plaintiff's exemption. The city relies on the Glendenning
Repeals by implication are not favored in the law. The earlier act will be considered to remain in force unless it is so manifestly inconsistent and repugnant to the later act that they cannot reasonably stand together, Kienbaum v. Haberny (1956), 273 Wis. 413, 78 N.W.2d 888, Milwaukee County v. Milwaukee Western Fuel Co., supra, or when the intent of the legislature to repeal by implication clearly appears. McLoughlin v. Malnar (1941), 237 Wis. 492, 297 N. W. 370. Sec. also 1 Sutherland, Statutory Construction (3d ed.), p. 487, sec. 2021. See Wood v. Hustis (1863), 17 Wis. 429 (*416), and Crosby v. Smith (1865), 19 Wis. 472 (*449), for the application of the rule to private and local laws.
Sec. 66.64, Stats., does not appear to us to be a general act covering the entire subject matter of special assessments. The words "and of every other corporation or company whatever" under well-established rules of construction must refer to the more-specific language and class of corporations specifically enumerated in the language preceding this general phrase. Even the title of the act did not pretend to cover all corporations. Under this construction, sec. 66.64 does not create an irreconcilable conflict with the plaintiff's exemption for special assessments for local improvements.
In addition, we do not find the intent of the legislature in passing sec. 66.64, Stats., contended for by the city for
By the Court.—Order reversed, with directions to enter an order granting the appellant's motion for summary judgment.
CURRIE, J. (dissenting).
I respectfully dissent on the ground that sec. 75.65, Stats. 1951 (now renumbered sec. 66.64), in effect when the instant special assessments were initiated, has repealed the plaintiff's prior exemption from special assessments. Such statute reads as follows:
"The property of every county, city, village, town, school district, sewerage district or commission, sanitary or water district or commission, or any public board or commission within this state, and of every corporation, company, or individual operating any railroad or street railway, telegraph, telephone, electric light or power system, or doing any of the
The majority opinion construes the italicized words as restricted to mean only other corporations of the same class as those previously enumerated specifically thereby employing the canon of construction of ejusdem generis. However, such canon of statutory construction is not to be employed if it is apparent from the reading of the statute that to do so is contrary to the legislative intent. 2 Sutherland, Statutory Construction (3d ed.), p. 407, sec. 4914; 82 C. J. S., Statutes, pp. 664, 665, sec. 332; Helvering v. Stockholms Enskilda Bank (1934), 293 U.S. 84, 88, 89, 55 Sup. Ct. 50, 79 L. Ed. 211.
The words "every other" and "whatever" as applied to "other corporation or company" clearly indicate a legislative intention that the legislature did not have in mind other corporations or companies of the same class as those specifically enumerated.
There is a further exception to the canon of ejusdem generis that is applicable here. 82 C. J. S., Statutes, p. 665, sec. 332, states such exception as follows:
"The rule does not apply where its application would render meaningless the general words, as where the specific words exhaust or embrace all objects of their class, so that the general words must bear a different meaning from the specific words or be meaningless."
All of the types of utility corporations or companies specifically enumerated are engaged in the business mentioned in ch. 76, Stats., and are covered by the statutory
For these reasons I would affirm the judgment below.
I am authorized to state that Mr. Chief Justice MARTIN and Mr. Justice BROWN join in this dissent.