Manilla Community School Dist. v. Halverson

Decision Date08 March 1960
Docket NumberNo. 49898,49898
Citation101 N.W.2d 705,251 Iowa 496
PartiesMANILLA COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT of Crawford and Shelby Counties, Iowa, Appellant, Norman E. Christensen et al., Intervenor-Appellants, v. B. G. HALVERSON, County Superintendent of Schools, Carroll County, Iowa, Appellee. Manning Community School District of Crawford, Carroll, Audubon and Shelby Counties, Iowa, Intervenor-Appellees.
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Norelius & Norelius, and Raun and Franck, Denison, for appellants.

Alan Loth, Fort Dodge, for appellee, and Richard Crandall, Manning, for intervenor-appellee.

LARSON, Chief Justice.

The sole question presented in this appeal is whether legislation affecting school reorganization appearing as Chapters 128 and 129, Acts of the 57th General Assembly, I.C.A. § 275.1 et seq., was retrospective or prospective. The cause having been submitted on the pleadings and a stipulation of facts, the trial court determined as a matter of law that the controversial provisions of Chapter 128 must be held prospective and that the organization election held April 29, 1959, in accordance with the provisions of the statute in existence at the time the petition was filed, was valid. The petitions of plaintiff and intervenor in its behalf were dismissed and injunctive relief denied. They appeal to us. We affirm.

The election in controversy is the final step necessary to establish the Manning Community School District. The record discloses that on or about April 27, 1957, a petition to organize this four-county district was filed. Various proceedings followed, resulting in an appeal to the courts. These issues were ultimately determined by us in Board of Education of Carroll County v State Board of Public Instruction, Iowa, 95 N.W.2d 285.

Section 275.20, Code of Iowa, 1954, in effect at the time the original petition was filed, did not permit electors of the Manilla Community School District who did not reside in the area included in the proposed new district to participate in the election. Section 275.20, Code of 1954, provided: '* * * School districts affected or portion thereof shall be defined to mean that area included in the plan of the proposed new school district. * * *' In other words, only those electors residing within the area included in the proposed district were permitted to vote in the election being contested herein.

Chapter 129 was the first of two Acts passed by the 57th General Assembly relating to the reorganization of school districts. It provided in Section 5, I.C.A. § 275.20 note, that Section 275.20, Code 1954, 'is hereby repealed and the following enacted in lieu thereof: 'The voters residing within the proposed boundaries shall vote separately in each existing school district affected upon the proposition to create such new corporation. School districts affected shall be defined as those districts, all or any portion of which are within the area included in the proposed new school district. If the proposition receives a majority of the votes cast in each of at least seventy-five percent (75%) of the said districts, and also a majority of the total number of votes cast in all of said districts, the proposition shall be deemed carried. Provided, however, that if two or more of the school districts affected have a resident average daily attendance in public schools of three hundred (300) or more pupils who were enrolled in public schools in the preceding school year, the proposition must also receive a majority of the votes cast in each of said districts in order to be deemed carried.'' (Emphasis supplied.)

Section 18 of the Act provided: 'This Act being deemed of immediate importance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage * * *; provided, however, that this Act shall not affect any reorganization proposal for which a petition has been filed prior to the effective date of this Act with the superintendent of schools.' (Emphasis supplied.)

By publication on May 2, 1957, this Act became effective May 3, 1957. Grant v. Norris, 249 Iowa 236, 242, 85 N.W.2d 261, 264.

On May 10, 1957, Chapter 128, Acts of the 57th General Assembly, also 'An Act relating to school districts, reorganization of school districts, providing for the classification of property for the purposes of taxation * * *' became effective by publication on May 9, 1957. Section 5, of that Act, I.C.A. § 275.20, provided as follows:

'Code section two hundred seventy-five point twenty (275.20), Code 1954, and any amendments thereto including amendments of the Fifty-seventh General Assembly is hereby repealed and the following substituted in lieu thereof: (Emphasis supplied.)

"The voters shall vote separately in each existing school district affected or portion thereof upon the proposition to create such new school corporation. School districts affected or portion thereof shall be defined to mean that area included within the boundaries of the proposed new school corporation, except that where a portion of an existing school district operating a high school, or a rural independent school district of eight (8) sections or more operating a school formed prior to the effective date of this Act, is included within the boundaries of the proposed new school corporation, that affected school district shall be defined as that existing district within and without the proposed new school corporation, and in such districts the entire district shall vote. If the proposition receives a majority of the votes cast in each of at least seventy-five (75) percent of the said districts, and also a majority of the total number of votes cast in all of said districts, the proposition shall be deemed carried. Provided, however, that if two or more of the school districts affected have a resident average daily attendance in public schools of three hundred (300) or more pupils who were enrolled in public schools in the preceding school year, the proposition must also receive a majority of the votes cast in each of said districts in order to be deemed carried, and in such districts the entire existing district shall vote."

Section 6 thereof provided: 'This Act being deemed of immediate importance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage and publication in * * *.' This enacting clause did not repeat the so-called grandfather clause found in Section 18 of Chapter 129, Acts of the 57th General Assembly, nor did it provide that its provisions were retroactive so as to affect pending reorganizations. Appellants contend such deletion indicated a legislative intent to make Chapter 128 retroactive, and that we should accept the opinion of the Attorney General issued shortly thereafter as conclusive of that intent.

I. The question whether a statute operates retrospectively, or prospectively only, is one of legislative intent. Generally the courts have evolved a strict rule of construction against a retrospective operation, and in fact indulge in the presumption that the legislature intended statutes, or amendments thereof, enacted by it to operate prospectively only, and not retroactively. Grant v. Norris, supra, 249 Iowa 236, 245, 85 N.W.2d 261, 266; 50 Am.Jur., Statutes, § 478. We have subscribed to the rule that retroactive laws are not looked upon with favor, but with disfavor, and we have always been loath to give statutes that effect unless the General Assembly clearly signifies or expresses that intent. Especially where as here the right affected is substantive, we favor a prospective interpretation. Dingman v. City of Council Bluffs, 249 Iowa 1121, 1130, 90 N.W.2d 742, 748, and cases cited; Grant v. Norris, supra; Davis v. Jones, 247 Iowa 1031, 78 N.W.2d 6; Thomas v. Disbrow, 208 Iowa 873, 224 N.W. 36.

II. Of course the primary rule in statutory construction cases is to ascertain and give effect to the intention of the legislature. Dingman v. Council Bluffs, supra; Grant v. Norris, supra, 249 Iowa 236, 85 N.W.2d 261, and authorities cited therein. We pointed out in Grant v. Norris that the legislature itself in Chapter 4, Code 1958, I.C.A., provided guides for the construction of statutes. Section 4.1, subd. 1 provided that the repeal of a statute does not affect any right which has accrued, 'or any proceeding commenced, under or by virtue of the statute repealed.' To the extent that such directions are applicable, they become a part of the statute in question and must govern our course in the pursuit and discovery of that illusive legislative intent.

Two fundamental rules of statutory construction are applicable here. In seeking the meaning of a law, the entire Act and other related acts and statutes should be considered. Davis v. Davis, 246 Iowa 262, 274, 67 N.W.2d 566, 573; Ahrweiler v. Board of Supervisors, 226 Iowa 229, 231, 283 N.W. 889; Eysink v. Board of Supervisors, 229 Iowa 1240, 1243, 296 N.W. 376. Each section of an act must be construed with the act as a whole, and with every other section. Wood Bros. Thresher Co. v. Eicher, 231 Iowa 550, 560, 1 N.W.2d 655, 660; 82 C.J.S. Statutes § 345a. 'All parts of the act should be considered, compared, and construed together. It is not permissible to rest the construction upon any one part alone * * * or to give undue effect thereto.' 50 Am.Jur., Statutes, § 352, pages 352-354. Sections 5, 6 and 7 of Chapter 129 all relate to reorganization elections. It would be strange indeed to hold Section 5 retroactive and Sections 6 and 7 prospective, without clear and definite direction from the General Assembly. Consideration must be given to the Act as a whole. Spencer Publishing Co. v. City of Spencer, Iowa, 92 N.W.2d 633, 635. We cannot, then, ignore the word 'substituted' used in Section 5 of Chapter 128 as appellants think we should, for if it referred to substituting this Section 5 for the Section 5 in Chapter 129, which would seem reasonable, then by express terms the legislature has made this Act prospective only and not applicable to pending...

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