Washington's Title Match: The Single-Subject and Subject-in-Title Rules of Article II, Section 19 of the Washington State Constitution
University of Arkansas - School of Law
August 1, 2006
Washington Law Review, Vol. 81, p. 595, 2006
Article II, section 19 of the Washington State Constitution provides that "[n]o bill shall embrace more than one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title." This provision contains two rules. First, an act violates the single-subject rule if it has a general title and its provisions lack rational unity, or if it has a restrictive title and contains provisions not fairly within the scope of that title. Second, an act violates the subject-in-title rule if the plain language of its title does not indicate the scope and purpose of the bill to an inquiring mind, or if it does not give notice to parties whose rights and liabilities are affected by the legislation. During the 2005 legislative session, the Washington State Legislature enacted Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5395, "AN ACT Relating to requiring electronic voting devices to produce paper records." This Comment argues that ESSB 5395 violates both the single-subject and subject-in-title requirements of Article II, section 19. The bill violates the single-subject rule because section 5 of the act, which requires county audits of electronic voting devices, is not fairly within the scope of its restrictive title. The bill also violates the subject-in-title rule because the plain language of its title does not provide adequate notice of the legislation's scope and purpose, specifically the county audit requirement.
Keywords: legislation, bills, lawmaking, Washington, state constitutional law
Date posted: July 17, 2010