[1994/oagheade.htm]

OAG 94-42

June 10, 1994

George Russell, Executive Director

State Board of Elections

140 Walnut Street

Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

Dear Mr. Russell:

By letter dated April 27, 1994, you asked this office for an opinion concerning the effective date of SB 262, the bill enacting the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. You stated that although SB 262 does not specifically contain a delayed effective date, it was not intended to go into effect until January 1, 1995, because it implements the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 which is not effective with respect to the states until January 1, 1995. 42 U.S.C. � 1973 gg note. You also noted that as further evidence that SB 262 was not intended to be effective until January 1, 1995, Section 5 of the Act specifically requires the Transportation Cabinet to equip all driver's license agencies to comply with the National Voter Registration Act no later than December 31, 1994.

Section 55 of the Kentucky Constitution provides that "[n]o act, except general appropriation bills, shall become a law until ninety days after the adjournment of the session at which it was passed, except in cases of emergency." Therefore, since no emergency existed, SB 262 would ordinarily become effective 90 days after adjournment of the session.

SB 262 implements the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and contains numerous references to the Act. For instance, Section 1 of SB 262 states that the voter registration application portion of a motor vehicle driver's license application must comply with the National Voter Registration Act. Section 2 designates certain agencies as voter registration agencies "in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993." Section 2 further provides that voter registration agencies must distribute voter registration forms that comply with the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act. Additionally, under Section 2 of SB 262, the State Board of Elections may designate requirements for recordkeeping and retention necessary to comply with the National Voter Registration Act.

Section 5 of SB 262 permits registration by a mail-in application form prescribed by the Federal Election Commission pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act. As you mentioned, Section 5 also specifically provides that "[n]o later than December 31, 1994, the Transportation Cabinet shall equip all driver's license agencies to comply with the provisions of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993." Finally, section 7 refers to the National Voter Registration Act. Thus, as the above references indicate, the clear language of SB 262 shows that the effective date of SB 262 was intended to coincide with the effective date of the National Voter Registration Act in Kentucky which is January 1, 1995.

In addition to the unambiguous language of SB 262, it is necessary to consider the intention of the legislature in order to determine the effective date of SB 262. In interpreting a statute, the court must give effect to the intention of the lawmakers. Green v. Moore, Ky. App., 135 S.W.2d 682 (1939); KRS 446.080. In Green, the court was asked to determine the date a tax statute became applicable when the statute became effective on May 30, 1938, but imposed a tax to be paid "on or before January 1, 1939." The court said that in interpreting the statute it had to give effect to the intention of the lawmakers. To determine legislative will, the court said:

[W]e start with the pertinent conditions existing when the law was enacted, with their background and development, and look toward the object intended to be reached or accomplished. Sec. 460, Ky. Statutes. Those attendant circumstances, the context of the act and its consequences are controlling, even though it may be necessary to modify the language used in order to make it consistent.

Green at 683. After considering the legislature's intent including the economic conditions of the state, the Green court concluded that the legislature intended an immediate imposition of the tax with a proportionate payment from the effective date of the act until the end of the year.

Considering the legislative history of SB 262, it is obvious that the legislature passed SB 262 to implement the statutory mandate of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 which does not apply to Kentucky until January 1, 1995. The legislature never intended SB 262 to apply to the affected agencies until January 1, 1995. Without the statutory mandate of Congress, the legislature would not have passed SB 262. The only reason SB 262 was enacted in 1994 was because the General Assembly is not going to meet in a regular session again before the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 become effective. Clearly, the legislative history shows that SB 262 should not be effective until January 1, 1995.

In determining the legislative intent, administrative construction must be considered. Barnes v. Anderson National Bank of Lawrenceburg, Ky. App., 169 S.W.2d 833 (1943). Great deference is given to an interpretation of a statute by an agency charged with its administration. Allison v. U.S., 426 F.2d 1324 (6th Cir. 1970). Here, the State Board of Elections is the administrative agency charged with administering the election laws of the state. KRS 117.015. The State Board of Elections has continuously maintained and represented throughout the implementation of SB 262 that SB 262 will become applicable to the affected agencies on January 1, 1995. Additionally, the State Board has made budget requests to the General Assembly for the implementation of SB 262 based on an effective date of January 1, 1995. Although as of this writing the 1994-95 budget has not been approved, it is our understanding that the budget under consideration makes appropriations based on a January 1, 1995 effective date.

Accordingly, we conclude that SB 262, the bill enacting the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 will take effect on January 1, 1995, the date the National Voter Registration Act will take effect with respect to Kentucky. We reach this conclusion based on the clear language in SB 262, the legislative history of SB 262 and the administrative construction of SB 262 by the State Board of Elections.

Sincerely,

CHRIS GORMAN

ATTORNEY GENERAL

ROSS T. CARTER

ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL