We are in receipt of Senate Resolution 165, by which you have requested our opinion on the constitutionality of S.B. 667, a bill now pending before the legislature. This bill would provide monies out of the Alabama Special Educational Trust Fund to fund numerous non-state agencies.
Senate Resolution 165 reads as follows:
The title to S.B. 667 reads in part: "To make a general appropriation from the Alabama Special Educational Trust Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1988 to the following non-state agencies:". The title then lists numerous entities, including the Sickle Cell Education Program, Alabama Outdoor Drama, American Legion and Auxiliary Scholarships, and the Alabama Small Business Development Consortium. This bill apparently is an attempt to fund various programs in a manner different from that dealt with in Opinion of the Justices No. 323, 512 So.2d 72 (Ala.1987).
The first question asks whether the bill is a general appropriation bill and therefore exempt from the singlesubject requirement of § 45. This question must be answered in the negative, because § 71 of the Constitution of 1901 states that the "general appropriation bill shall embrace nothing but appropriations for the ordinary expenses of the executive, legislative, and judicial departments of the state, for interest on the public debt, and for the public schools." Appropriations for "non-state agencies" clearly do not fall within any of
We shall consider the second and third questions together, as we have recognized that if a bill meets the one-subject requirement of § 45, it also satisfies the one-subject requirement of § 71. Opinion of the Justices No. 323, supra; Opinion of the Justices No. 174, 275 Ala. 254, 154 So.2d 12 (1963).
The pertinent part of Section 45 provides that "Each law shall contain but one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title...."
Lindsay v. United States Savings & Loan Co., 120 Ala. 156, 172-73, 24 So. 171, 176 (1898).
It is obvious that the purpose of S.B. 667 is to provide appropriations to fund nonstate agencies. While it appears that all of the provisions of the bill do provide funds for non-state agencies, our inquiry does not end there.
The precise question to be answered is whether appropriations for several nonstate agencies can be considered one subject. We think not.
"It has been frequently held that generality and comprehensiveness in the title of an act is no objection to it, so long as such quality is not made a cover for legislation incongruous in itself, and by no fair intendment connected with and cognate to the subject expressed in the title." Board of Revenue of Jefferson County v. Kayser, 205 Ala. 289, 290, 88 So. 19, 20 (1921). The agencies funded are not related to each other except in the sense that they are all non-state agencies. The "one subject requirement" can not be met by saying that the "subject" is a tangential aspect of each provision, where the provisions are otherwise wholly unrelated.
Moreover, the notice given by the bill does not further the purposes of § 45. The title of a bill can be so broad as to be vague or meaningless and thereby provide little notice to the public as to the nature of the bill. Gibson v. State, 214 Ala. 38, 44, 106 So. 231, 235-36 (1925). Furthermore, allowing the use of a very broad title would be in conflict with the purpose of preventing logrolling, "the practice of embracing in one bill several distinct matters, none of which, perhaps could singly obtain the assent of the legislature, and then procuring its passage by a combination of the minorities in favor of each of the measures, into a majority that will adopt them all." State ex rel. Bozeman v. Hester, 260 Ala. 566, 573, 72 So.2d 61, 66 (1954).
While the title of S.B. 667 does go on to list the various non-state agencies that will receive appropriations and therefore more clearly satisfies the purpose of providing notice to the public, sanctioning this type of notice would permit extensive logrolling which would be "to the detriment of the citizens of this state." Alabama Ed. Ass'n v. Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama, 374 So.2d 258, 262 (Ala.1979).
The Constitution is emphatic in its requirement that a statute shall not embrace more than one subject; a statute that violates the one-subject requirement is not saved by the fact that the title of the statute accurately reflects the several subjects of the statute. Ballentyne v. Wickersham, 75 Ala. 533 (1883).
Accordingly, we think that S.B. 667 contravenes § 45 and § 71 of the Constitution of Alabama.