B-141309, DECEMBER 14, 1959, 39 COMP. GEN. 443

B-141309: Dec 14, 1959

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WHICH REVISES THE TIME LIMIT FOR SUBMISSION OF APPLICATIONS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR RELOCATION EXPENSES OF OWNERS AND TENANTS OF LAND ACQUIRED FOR MILITARY PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS TO "WITHIN ONE YEAR FOLLOWING THE DATE OF SUCH ACQUISITION OR WITHIN ONE YEAR FOLLOWING THE DATE THAT THE PROPERTY IS VACATED BY THE APPLICANT. WHICHEVER IS LATER. 1959) IS TO BE CONSTRUED AS EFFECTIVE FROM JANUARY 1. ALTHOUGH SUCH APPLICATION WAS MORE THAN ONE YEAR FROM DATE OF ACQUISITION. THAT * * * NO PAYMENT IN REIMBURSEMENT SHALL BE MADE UNLESS APPLICATION THEREFOR * * * SHALL HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED * * * WITHIN ONE YEAR FOLLOWING THE DATE OF SUCH ACQUISITION. * * *" PUBLIC LAW 86-317 FURTHER AMENDED SECTION 401 (B) BY REVISING THE TIME LIMIT FOR SUBMISSION OF AN APPLICATION FOR REIMBURSEMENT TO "WITHIN ONE YEAR FOLLOWING THE DATE OF SUCH ACQUISITION OR WITHIN ONE YEAR FOLLOWING THE DATE THAT THE PROPERTY IS VACATED BY THE APPLICANT.

B-141309, DECEMBER 14, 1959, 39 COMP. GEN. 443

STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION - AMENDMENTS - RETROACTIVE - PERIOD BETWEEN RETROACTIVE DATE AND ENACTMENT DATE AN AMENDMENT MADE EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 1959, WHICH REVISES THE TIME LIMIT FOR SUBMISSION OF APPLICATIONS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR RELOCATION EXPENSES OF OWNERS AND TENANTS OF LAND ACQUIRED FOR MILITARY PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS TO "WITHIN ONE YEAR FOLLOWING THE DATE OF SUCH ACQUISITION OR WITHIN ONE YEAR FOLLOWING THE DATE THAT THE PROPERTY IS VACATED BY THE APPLICANT, WHICHEVER IS LATER," ( PUBLIC LAW 86-317, APPROVED SEPTEMBER 21, 1959) IS TO BE CONSTRUED AS EFFECTIVE FROM JANUARY 1, 1959, SO THAT NO SPECIAL CONSIDERATION NEED BE GIVEN TO THE PERIOD BETWEEN JANUARY 1 AND SEPTEMBER 21, 1959, THE DATE OF ENACTMENT; THEREFORE, APPLICANTS WHO VACATED LAND AFTER JANUARY 1, 1958, AND WHO FILED APPLICATIONS WITHIN ONE YEAR OF VACATING, ALTHOUGH SUCH APPLICATION WAS MORE THAN ONE YEAR FROM DATE OF ACQUISITION, WOULD BE COVERED BY THE ACT.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, DECEMBER 14, 1959:

BY LETTER OF NOVEMBER 19, 1959, THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY ( MANPOWER, PERSONNEL AND RESERVE FORCES) REQUESTED OUR DECISION CONCERNING APPLICATION OF PUBLIC LAW 86-317, APPROVED SEPTEMBER 21, 1959, 73 STAT. 589, AMENDING SECTION 401 (B) OF THE ACT OF JULY 14, 1952, AS AMENDED, 66 STAT. 606, 624; 69 STAT. 352.

SECTION 401 (B), AS AMENDED, AUTHORIZED THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS "TO REIMBURSE THE OWNERS AND TENANTS OF LAND TO BE ACQUIRED FOR ANY PUBLIC WORKS PROJECT OF THE MILITARY DEPARTMENT CONCERNED FOR EXPENSES AND OTHER LOSSES AND DAMAGES INCURRED BY SUCH OWNERS AND TENANTS, RESPECTIVELY, IN THE PROCESS AND AS A DIRECT RESULT OF THE MOVING OF THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES AND POSSESSIONS BECAUSE OF SUCH ACQUISITION OF LAND * * * PROVIDED, THAT * * * NO PAYMENT IN REIMBURSEMENT SHALL BE MADE UNLESS APPLICATION THEREFOR * * * SHALL HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED * * * WITHIN ONE YEAR FOLLOWING THE DATE OF SUCH ACQUISITION. * * *" PUBLIC LAW 86-317 FURTHER AMENDED SECTION 401 (B) BY REVISING THE TIME LIMIT FOR SUBMISSION OF AN APPLICATION FOR REIMBURSEMENT TO "WITHIN ONE YEAR FOLLOWING THE DATE OF SUCH ACQUISITION OR WITHIN ONE YEAR FOLLOWING THE DATE THAT THE PROPERTY IS VACATED BY THE APPLICANT, WHICHEVER IS LATER.' BY ITS TERMS THIS AMENDMENT WAS MADE EFFECTIVE AS OF JANUARY 1, 1959.

OUR OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO HOW PUBLIC LAW 86-317 SHOULD BE RETROACTIVELY APPLIED TO OWNERS AND TENANTS OF LAND WHO VACATED THEIR LAND SUBSEQUENT TO JANUARY 1, 1958, AND WHO SUBMITTED APPLICATIONS WITHIN ONE YEAR FROM DATE OF VACATING ALTHOUGH MORE THAN ONE YEAR FROM DATE OF ACQUISITION OF THE LAND BY THE MILITARY. OUR ATTENTION IS SPECIFICALLY DIRECTED TO POSSIBLE DIFFERENCES AS BETWEEN CASES OF APPLICATIONS SUBMITTED PRIOR TO AND THOSE SUBMITTED SUBSEQUENT TO JANUARY 1, 1959, AND THE EFFECT PRIOR DISALLOWANCES BY WRITTEN DETERMINATIONS MAY HAVE WITH RESPECT TO APPLICATIONS MADE PRIOR TO OR SUBSEQUENT TO THAT DATE, WHERE SUCH DISALLOWANCES WERE DUE TO APPLICATIONS NOT HAVING BEEN FILED WITHIN THE TIME PRESCRIBED BY THE FORMER LAW.

THE BILL ENACTED AS PUBLIC LAW 86-317--- H.R. 4656--- AS ORIGINALLY CONSIDERED DID NOT PROVIDE FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE OF JANUARY 1, 1959. COMMENTING UPON WHETHER THE LEGISLATION SHOULD BE MADE RETROACTIVE, THE THEN SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, SPEAKING FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, ADVISED THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES THAT:

IF THE PROVISION IS MADE FULLY RETROACTIVE IT WOULD EXTEND BACK OVER A PERIOD OF OVER 7 YEARS. THIS WOULD MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO BRING TO THE ATTENTION OF THE PROSPECTIVE BENEFICIARIES THEIR ELIGIBILITY UNDER THE LEGISLATION INASMUCH AS NO RECORD IS KEPT AS TO WHERE FORMER OWNERS AND TENANTS HAVE MOVED. THEN, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THEIR RIGHTS, IT MIGHT BE DIFFICULT FOR FORMER OWNERS AND TENANTS TO MEET THE STATUTORY AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENT THAT EVERY APPLICATION BE SUPPORTED BY AN ITEMIZED STATEMENT OF EXPENSES, LOSSES, AND DAMAGES INCURRED OR TO SUPPLY SUCH REASONABLE DEGREE OF PROOFS AS WILL BE ESSENTIAL BEFORE PAYMENT CAN BE JUSTIFIED. DIFFICULTIES WOULD ALSO BE ENCOUNTERED IN ADMINISTRATIVELY EVALUATING SUCH PROOF AS IS OFFERED.

CONSIDERATION SHOULD ALSO BE GIVEN TO THE FACT THAT IF RETROACTIVITY IS LIMITED TO EITHER A SPECIFIC PERIOD OR TO A SELECTED GROUP OF OWNERS AND TENANTS WHO HAVE PREVIOUSLY FILED APPLICATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN DENIED, THE LEGISLATION WILL BE DISCRIMINATORY AND, THEREFORE, INEQUITABLE. MOREOVER, ENACTMENT OF A RETROACTIVE PROVISION BENEFITING ONLY A LIMITED CLASS OF FORMER OWNERS AND TENANTS COULD WELL LEAD TO FURTHER LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS TO EXTEND RETROACTIVITY TO OTHER GROUPS.

AND THE COMMITTEE, IN ITS REPORT ON THE BILL, STATED THAT:

THERE IS NO RETROACTIVE PROVISION IN H.R. 4656, OR S. 1100, THEREFORE, APPLICATIONS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FILED AFTER ENACTMENT OF THE MEASURE WOULD BE JUDGED SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF THEIR QUALIFICATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION AT THAT TIME. THE COMMITTEE GAVE CAREFUL CONSIDERATION TO (1) A FULLY RETROACTIVE PROVISION, OR (2) SOME POSSIBLE PARTIAL RETROACTIVE PROVISION LIMITED TO EITHER A SPECIFIC PERIOD OF TIME OR A CLASS OF OWNERS AND TENANTS WHOSE APPLICATIONS FOR MOVING EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT HAVE PREVIOUSLY BEEN DENIED. * * *

SEE, IN CONNECTION WITH THE ABOVE, SENATE REPORT NO. 712, 86TH CONGRESS, ST SESSION.

SUBSEQUENT TO CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 4656 BY COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE, AN AMENDMENT TO THE BILL WAS OFFERED ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE TO PROVIDE FOR THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE ACT TO BE JANUARY 1, 1959. THE PURPOSE FOR THIS AMENDMENT WAS "TO ENCOMPASS SOME EIGHT OR NINE VERY DESERVING CASES WHICH WOULD OTHERWISE NOT BE COVERED BY THE BILL.' 105 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD 17475 ( SEPT. 10, 1959).

ALTHOUGH THE PROVISION FOR JANUARY 1, 1959, AS THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE ACT DOES, IN FACT, PROVIDE FOR RETROACTIVE APPLICATION THEREOF CONTRARY TO THE CONSIDERATIONS AGAINST RETROACTIVELY QUOTED ABOVE, THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE ACT WAS MADE RETROACTIVE WOULD NOT REQUIRE THAT ANY SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE BE ATTACHED TO THE PERIOD BETWEEN JANUARY 1 AND SEPTEMBER 21, 1959, THE DATE OF ENACTMENT. IN OTHER WORDS, IN RESOLVING THE QUESTION RAISED, WE SHALL MERELY LOOK TO THE INTENT OF THE CONGRESS EXPRESSED IN THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY AS BEING APPLICABLE TO THE DATE OF JANUARY 1, 1959, RATHER THAN TO THE DATE OF ENACTMENT AS EXPRESSED THEREIN.

ACCORDINGLY, WE CONSTRUE THE ACT TO EMBRACE ANY APPLICANT FOR REIMBURSEMENT THEREUNDER WHO ON JANUARY 1, 1959, OR THEREAFTER HAD NOT VACATED HIS LAND MORE THAN A YEAR PRIOR TO HIS APPLICATION. THUS, ANY APPLICANT WHO VACATED HIS LAND AFTER JANUARY 1, 1958, AND FILED AN APPLICATION FOR REIMBURSEMENT WITHIN ONE YEAR OF VACATING WOULD BE COVERED; AND ANY SUCH CLAIM FILED PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 21, 1959, MAY BE REOPENED EITHER UPON APPLICATION OF THE CLAIMANT OR UPON MOTION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT INVOLVED.