B-4942, AUGUST 18, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 227

B-4942: Aug 18, 1939

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THIS INTENTION IS TO BE ASCERTAINED BY CONSIDERING THE ENTIRE CONTEXT OF THE LAW AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ATTENDED ITS ENACTMENT. WHILE IN OTHERS IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT THEY ARE NOT INCLUDED. WHEN CONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF THE ENTIRE CONTEXT OF THE STATUTE AND THE PURPOSE WHICH THE CONGRESS WAS SEEKING TO ACCOMPLISH. A NUMBER OF PAYMENTS WERE MADE TO STATE. THE APPLICATIONS UPON WHICH SUCH PAYMENTS WERE BASED WERE PREAUDITED BY YOUR OFFICE. IS NOT A "PERSON" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT. IT IS OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT SINCE THAT DATE YOUR OFFICE HAS SUSPENDED ALL APPLICATIONS FOR PAYMENT MADE BY STATE. MUNICIPAL AGENCIES WERE "PERSONS" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT. A FEW SUCH AGENCIES HAVE PRODUCED AND MARKETED SUGAR OVER A PERIOD OF YEARS.

B-4942, AUGUST 18, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 227

WORDS AND PHRASES - PERSONS - SCOPE GENERALLY, AND FOR PURPOSES OF 1937 SUGAR ACT AS THE MEANING AND SCOPE OF THE TERM "PERSON" AS USED IN A STATUTE DEPENDS UPON THE INTENTION OF THE LEGISLATURE USING IT, AND THIS INTENTION IS TO BE ASCERTAINED BY CONSIDERING THE ENTIRE CONTEXT OF THE LAW AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ATTENDED ITS ENACTMENT, THE TERM HAS IN CERTAIN STATUTES BEEN HELD TO INCLUDE MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS, STATES, AND COUNTIES, WHILE IN OTHERS IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT THEY ARE NOT INCLUDED. THE TERM "PERSON" AS USED IN THE SUGAR ACT OF 1937, 50 STAT. 903, WHEN CONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF THE ENTIRE CONTEXT OF THE STATUTE AND THE PURPOSE WHICH THE CONGRESS WAS SEEKING TO ACCOMPLISH, MAY BE CONSIDERED AS INCLUDING STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL AGENCIES FOR PAYMENT PURPOSES UNDER THE ACT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL BROWN TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, AUGUST 18, 1939:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF JULY 14, 1939, AS FOLLOWS:

IN CARRYING OUT THE 1937 SUGAR PROGRAM UNDER THE SUGAR ACT OF 1937, A NUMBER OF PAYMENTS WERE MADE TO STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL AGENCIES WHICH COMPLIED WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE PROGRAM. THE APPLICATIONS UPON WHICH SUCH PAYMENTS WERE BASED WERE PREAUDITED BY YOUR OFFICE. UNDER DATE OF NOVEMBER 15, 1938, THIS DEPARTMENT ADDRESSED A LETTER TO YOU STATING THAT, IN THE OPINION OF THE DEPARTMENT, THE COLORADO STATE PRISON, A STATE AGENCY, IS NOT A "PERSON" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT. IT IS OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT SINCE THAT DATE YOUR OFFICE HAS SUSPENDED ALL APPLICATIONS FOR PAYMENT MADE BY STATE, COUNTY, OR MUNICIPAL AGENCIES, EITHER INCORPORATED OR UNINCORPORATED.

RECENTLY, DUE TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF MARKETING ALLOTMENTS FOR PROCESSORS IN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, PURSUANT TO SUBSECTION (A) OF SECTION 205 OF THE ACT, IT BECAME NECESSARY TO REEXAMINE THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL AGENCIES WERE "PERSONS" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT. A FEW SUCH AGENCIES HAVE PRODUCED AND MARKETED SUGAR OVER A PERIOD OF YEARS. SINCE SUBSECTION (J) OF SECTION 101 OF THE ACT, WHICH DEFINES THE TERM "QUOTA," MAKES IT CLEAR THAT SUGAR MAY NOT BE MARKETED FROM ANY AREA IN EXCESS OF THE QUOTA THEREFOR, IT WAS NOT DEEMED TO BE IN ACCORD WITH THE INTENT OF THE ACT TO DENY ALLOTMENTS TO SUCH AGENCIES. ACCORDINGLY, ALLOTMENTS WERE MADE FOR THE LOUISIANA PENITENTIARY BOARD AND THE DELGADO-ALBANIA PLANTATION COMMISSION, A STATE AND MUNICIPAL AGENCY, RESPECTIVELY. FURTHERMORE, WE WERE INFORMED BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT THAT THESE AGENCIES HAVE PAID A TAX, PURSUANT TO TITLE IV OF THE ACT, ON ALL "MANUFACTURED SUGAR" (AS DEFINED IN SECTION (B) OF SECTION 401) SOLD BY THEM.

AFTER A CAREFUL RECONSIDERATION OF THE QUESTION, IT IS THE OPINION OF THE DEPARTMENT THAT STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL AGENCIES, WHETHER INCORPORATED OR UNINCORPORATED, ARE "PERSONS" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT AND ARE ELIGIBLE FOR PAYMENTS THEREUNDER. IN VIEW OF THIS OPINION, IT IS ASSUMED THAT YOUR OFFICE WILL WISH TO CHANGE THE PROCEDURE FOLLOWED SINCE OUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 15, 1938, AND DISCONTINUE THE SUSPENSION OF APPLICATIONS MADE BY STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL AGENCIES. KINDLY INFORM US WHEN THIS CHANGE IN PROCEDURE HAS BEEN MADE.

THE MEANING AND SCOPE OF THE TERM "PERSON" AS USED IN A STATUTE DEPENDS UPON THE INTENTION OF THE LEGISLATURE IN USING IT, AND THIS INTENTION IS TO BE ASCERTAINED BY CONSIDERING THE ENTIRE CONTEXT OF THE LAW AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ATTENDED ITS ENACTMENT. GULF STATES STEEL COMPANY V. UNITED STATES, 287 U.S. 32, 45; ATLANTIC CLEANERS AND DYERS V. UNITED STATES, 286 U.S. 427, 433; NORWEGIAN NITROGEN COMPANY V. UNITED STATES, 288 U.S. 294, 317; PUERTO RICO V. SHELL COMPANY, 302 U.S. 253, 258. THUS, IN CERTAIN STATUTES "PERSON" HAS BEEN HELD TO INCLUDE MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS, STATES, AND COUNTIES. IN RE WESTERN IMPLEMENT COMPANY, 166 F. 576, 582; ROBERTSON V. MONROE COUNTY, 118 MISS. 520; COMMONWEALTH V. ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY, 123 KY. 720. IN OTHER CASES IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT SUCH ENTITIES ARE NOT "PERSONS.' SCOTT V. FRAZIER, 258 F. 669, 671; DONAHUE V. CITY OF NEWBURYPORT, 98 N.E. 1081, 1082; CITY OF DALLAS V. HALFORD, 210 S.W. 725, 726.

IN SECTION 101 (A) OF THE SUGAR ACT OF 1937, 50 STAT. 903, THE WORD "PERSON" IS DEFINED TO MEAN ,AN INDIVIDUAL, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, OR ASSOCIATION.' WHEN THIS DEFINITION IS CONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF THE ENTIRE CONTEXT OF THE STATUTE AND THE PURPOSE WHICH CONGRESS (AS MANIFESTED IN THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY THEREOF) WAS SEEKING TO ACCOMPLISH, THE CONCLUSION APPEARS NOT UNREASONABLE THAT STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL AGENCIES WERE INTENDED TO BE INCLUDED IN THE TERM "PERSON.' THIS IS INDICATED BY THE FOLLOWING:

1. THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE TO CONGRESS RECOMMENDING ENACTMENT OF THIS LEGISLATION ( CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, VOL. 81, PT. II, P. 1661) IS PHRASED IN BROAD TERMS AND QUITE CLEARLY INDICATES HIS INTENTION THAT IT SHOULD EMBRACE THE ENTIRE SUGAR-BEET AND SUGAR/CANE INDUSTRIES. THUS HE SUGGESTED, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THAT PROVISION SHOULD BE MADE AGAINST CHILD LABOR AND LOW WAGES FOR THE REASON THAT "ANY INDUSTRY WHICH DESIRES THE PROTECTION AFFORDED BY A QUOTA SYSTEM OR A TARIFF SHOULD BE EXPECTED TO GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL BE A GOOD EMPLOYER.' ALSO, HE RECOMMENDED THAT PROVISION BE MADE "TO PROTECT THE RIGHT OF BOTH NEW AND OLD PRODUCERS OF SMALL ACREAGES * * * TO AN EQUITABLE SHARE OF THE BENEFITS OFFERED BY THE PROGRAM.' THERE IS NO INDICATION OF INTENTION THAT THE TERM "PRODUCERS" WAS USED IN OTHER THAN AN ALL INCLUSIVE SENSE.

2. FOR THE ADMITTED PURPOSE OF CARRYING OUT THE PRESIDENT'S RECOMMENDATION THERE WAS INTRODUCED H.R. 7667, AND IT IS STATED IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH THEREOF THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE BILL IS, AMONG OTHER THINGS,"TO PROTECT THE WELFARE OF CONSUMERS OF SUGARS AND OF THOSE ENGAGED IN THE DOMESTIC SUGAR-PRODUCING INDUSTRY.' ( ITALICS SUPPLIED.) THIS SAME STATEMENT OF PURPOSE IS CARRIED INTO THE FINAL ENACTMENT.

3. IN THE HOUSE REPORT UPON THE BILL (H.1REPT. NO. 1179, 75TH CONG., ST SESS.) LANGUAGE IS USED WHICH AGAIN INDICATES THE INTENTION THAT THE LEGISLATION SHOULD REACH AND AFFECT THE ENTIRE SUGAR-BEET AND SUGAR/CANE INDUSTRY, INCLUDING ALL PRODUCERS THEREIN. IT IS STATED, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT " UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE BILL DOMESTIC PRODUCERS OF SUGAR BEETS AND SUGAR/CANE ARE ASSURED ADEQUATE RETURN THROUGH CONDITION PAYMENTS TO GROWERS AND CONTINUANCE OF THE SUGAR-QUOTA SYSTEM.' ( ITALICS SUPPLIED.) WITH RESPECT TO TITLE III, IT IS STATED IN THE REPORT THAT THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE IS AUTHORIZED TO MAKE PAYMENTS TO "PRODUCERS" WHO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE ACT. IT SEEMS APPARENT THAT THE COMMITTEE HAD REFERENCE TO ALL PRODUCERS OF WHATEVER DESCRIPTION.

AS PREVIOUSLY OBSERVED, THERE IS NOTHING IN THE USE OF THE TERM "PERSON" WHICH IS REPUGNANT TO THE CONCEPTION THAT STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL AGENCIES BE INCLUDED WITHIN THE MEANING THEREOF. THEREFORE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH YOUR REQUEST, ACTION IS BEING TAKEN TO CHANGE THE PROCEDURE OF THIS OFFICE SO THAT, HEREAFTER, APPLICATIONS FOR PAYMENTS UNDER THE ACT SUBMITTED BY SUCH AGENCIES WILL BE CONSIDERED ON THEIR MERITS.