The Boeing contract and the state's Constitution

Prepared by Bob Williams (President)
Evergreen Freedom Foundation
(360) 956-3482 or

Jan. 30, 2004

Olympia, WA - Now that Governor Locke has committed our state to a contractual agreement with Boeing, the legislature will be asked to fulfill the promises he made to the company. Various sections of the state's agreement raise constitutional concerns. But Exhibit G of the contract, which is supposed to address opinions of counsel regarding the legality of the agreement, is blank. Not redacted, but blank. Before lawmakers can be expected to make informed decisions this session regarding the Boeing contract, the following concerns need to be addressed by the attorney general.

1. What constitutional authority does a governor have to sign a contract that binds current legislators and future legislators?
2. What constitutional authority allows a mayor (in this case Everett) to sign a contract that binds a city council to the terms of a contract?
3. What constitutional authority allows a county executive (in this case Snohomish) to contractually bind the county council and the newly elected county executive?
4. What constitutional authority does the Executive Director of the Port of Everett have to sign a contract that binds the Port?
5. What constitutional authority allows the president of the Snohomish County PUD to sign a contract that binds the other PUD Commissioners and the PUD?

Along with these questions, legislators may want to ask the attorney general to confirm that the Boeing agreement does not violate other sections of the state's constitution listed below. A full description of how these sections relate to the Boeing contract is available upon request.

Article 1, Section 8: Irrevocable privilege, franchise or immunity prohibited.
No law granting irrevocably any privilege, franchise or immunity, shall be passed by the legislature.

Article 1, Section 12: Special privileges and immunities prohibited.
No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.

Article 2 Section 28: The legislature is prohibited from enacting any private or special laws in the following cases:
6. For granting corporate powers and privileges.

Article 3, Section 24: Records, where kept.
The governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, superintendent of public instruction, commissioner of public lands and attorney general shall severally keep the public records, books and papers relating to their respective offices, at the seat of government, at which place also the governor, secretary of state, treasurer and auditor shall reside.

(The Governor's office stated they had to wait for Boeing to give them copies of the Exhibits before they could be released. This was after the contract was signed on December 19, 2003).

Article 7, Section 1: Taxation.
The power of taxation shall never be suspended, surrendered or contracted away. All taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax and shall be levied and collected for public purposes only. The word "property" as used herein shall mean and include everything, whether tangible or intangible, subject to ownership. All real estate shall constitute one class: Provided, That the legislature may tax mines and mineral resources and lands devoted to reforestation by either a yield tax or an ad valorem tax at such rate as it may fix, or by both. Such property as the legislature may by general laws provide shall be exempt from taxation. Property of the United States and of the state, counties, school districts and other municipal corporations, and credits secured by property actually taxed in this state, not exceeding in value the value of such property, shall be exempt from taxation. The legislature shall have power, by appropriate legislation, to exempt personal property to the amount of three thousand ($3,000.00) dollars for each head of a family liable to assessment and taxation under the provisions of the laws of this state of which the individual is the actual bona fide owner.

Article 8, Section 5: Credit not to be loaned.
The credit of the state shall not, in any manner be given or loaned to, or in aid of, any individual, association, company or corporation.

Article 12, Section 1: Corporations.
The credit of the state shall not, in any manner be given or loaned to, or in aid of, any individual, association, company or corporation.

Article 12, Section 9: State not to loan its credit or subscribe for stock.
The state shall not in any manner loan its credit, nor shall it subscribe to, or be interested in the stock of any company, association or corporation.

*Details on which sections and exhibits of the Boeing agreement may violate the above referenced sections are available upon request.

January 30, 2004
Volume 14, Number 2

Contact: Jason Mercier, Budget Research Analyst
(360) 956-3482

* Nothing in this email should be construed as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any legislation.



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