Sheldon v. Grand River Dam Auth., Case Number: 28318

CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtHURST, J.
Citation1938 OK 76,76 P.2d 355,182 Okla. 24
Decision Date01 February 1938
Docket NumberCase Number: 28318
PartiesSHELDON v. GRAND RIVER DAM AUTHORITY et al

1938 OK 76
76 P.2d 355
182 Okla. 24

SHELDON
v.
GRAND RIVER DAM AUTHORITY et al

Case Number: 28318

Supreme Court of Oklahoma

Decided: February 1, 1938


Syllabus

¶0 1. STATUTES--Acts Creating Grand River Dam Authority Held Not Violative of Constitutional Provisions Relating to Special and Local Laws.

The act (chapter 70, art. 4, Sess. L. 1935) and amendment thereto (chapter 70, arts. 1 and 2, Sess. L. 1937) creating the Grand River Dam Authority is not special and local, but is general legislation and does not violate sections 32, 46, and 59 of art. 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

2. WATERS AND WATER COURSES--GRAND RIVER Dam Authority Held Not "Political Corporation or Other Political Subdivision of State" Under Constitutional Limitation on Indebtedness.

The Grand River Dam Authority is not one of the "political corporations, or other political subdivisions of the state" within the meaning of section 26, art. 10, Oklahoma Constitution, but is a governmental agency of the state.

3. SAME--STATES--ACTS Creating Grand River Dam Authority Held Not to "Create Debts" Within Meaning of Constitutional Provisions.
The acts creating the Grand River Dam Authority, and providing for the issuance of bonds not to exceed the sum of $15,000,000, payable solely out of a special fund to be created by the revenues from the sale of electric power and water to be produced by the project, when completed, and the revenues from its properties in other respects, but not pledging directly, indirectly or contingently ally existing revenues, which may be available for general purposes, and where the fund is not to be fed from any revenues derived from taxation either on an ad valorem basis, or by special taxes, do not create a debt within the meaning of sections 23 and 25, art. 10, Oklahoma Constitution.

4. SAME--Acts Creating Authority Held Not Violative of Other Constitutional Provisions.

The acts creating the Grand River Dam Authority do not violate sections 31 and 32 of art. 2, sections 5, 34, 35, 50 of art. 5, section 3 of art. 16, or sections 1 and 4 (a) of art. 18, of the Oklahoma Constitution.

Appeal from District Court, Craig County; N. B. Johnson, Judge.

Injunction by William Sheldon against the Grand River Dam Authority et al. Judgment for defendants, and plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

L. Keith Smith, for plaintiff in error.

C. B. Cochran and R. L. Wagner, amici curiae.

Mac Q. Williamson, Atty. Gen., Randell S. Cobb, Asst. Atty. Gen., R. L. Davidson, and Jack L. Rorschach, for defendants in error.

HURST, J.

¶1 This action involves the constitutionality of an act of the Legislature and an amendment thereto creating the Grand River Dam Authority. The act (chapter 70, art. 4, Sess. L. 1935) creates a conservation and reclamation district consisting of that area included within the boundaries of 17 counties located in the northeast part of the state; namely, Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Muskogee, Nowata, Ottawa, Rogers, Tulsa, Wagoner, Sequoyah, Osage, Washington, McIntosh, Creek, and Okmulgee. The district is declared to be a "governmental agency and body politic and corporate, with the powers of government." The act provides that nothing therein contained "shall be construed as authorizing the district to levy or collect taxes or assessments, or to create any indebtedness payable out of taxes or assessments, or in any manner to pledge the credit of the state of Oklahoma, or any subdivision thereof." The act contemplates the construction of a dam on Grand river with the erection of a hydroelectric power plant, which will also make available the water necessary for irrigation, soil conservation, and recreational purposes and will facilitate in flood control. The act provides that the district cannot engage in the retail marketing of electric power, but can sell it only at the turbines for wholesale purposes. It provides for the creation of a board of nine directors, requiring that they be "residents of and freehold property taxpayers in the district," and sets out in detail the powers, rights, and privileges to be exercised. The district is given authority to issue bonds, not to exceed $15,000,000, payable solely out of the revenues received by the district from the sale of electric power and other revenues received in respect to its properties. The act further provides that before any bonds shall be sold, a certified copy of the proceedings for the issuance thereof shall be submitted to the Attorney General, and if he shall find that they have been issued in accordance with law, he shall approve them and issue his certificate to that effect, which shall be filed in the office of the State Auditor.

¶2 The amendment (chapter 70, arts. 1 and 2, Sess. L. 1937) does not re-enact the1935 act in its entirety, but merely eliminates three counties, Rogers, Osage, and Washington, from the district, and also eliminates any restriction on the retail marketing of electric power.

¶3 Plaintiff is a property owner and taxpayer within the district and brought this action seeking an injunction to prevent the Grand River Dam Authority from proceeding to issue bonds as authorized by the act. The injunction was denied and plaintiff brings this appeal. He presents 20 reasons for asserting the unconstitutionality of the act. The principal contentions are: (1) That the legislation is local or special and violative of sections 32, 46, and 59 of art. 5 of the state Constitution; and (2) that it violates the debt limitation provisions of sections 23, 25, and 26 of art. 10 of the state Constitution. Amici curiae briefs have been filed in which it is asserted that the act is violative of sections 32 and 59 of art. 5, and section 26 of art. 10, of the Constitution.

¶4 The first contention of the plaintiff and of the amici curiae is that the act is special or local, rather than general, legislation, and violates sections 32, 46 and 59 of art. 5 of the Constitution. Section 32 of this article provides that "no special or local law shall be considered by the Legislature until notice of the intended introduction" thereof shall have been published in some newspaper in the "city or county affected by such law." Section 46 provides that no local or special law upon 28 specified subjects shall be passed. Section 59 requires that "laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation throughout the state, and where a general law can be made applicable, no special law shall be enacted."

¶5 It is stipulated that no notice was published as required by section 32, but the contention of the defendants in answer to the application of all of these sections is that the act is general, and not special or local. The first question is regarding the test for determining whether an act is special and local or general. The defendants, or proponents of the act, contend that any law is a general law if it deals with a "subject-matter that is of general interest and statewide concern, although it may have a restricted or local operation." On the other hand, amici curiae contend that the fact that a law may be enacted for a public purpose does not make it a general law if, by its terms, it is confined in its operation to property and persons of a particular locality of the state. Without determining whether the position of the defendants has been misunderstood, as they claim, it is clear that by reason of section 59, an act to be general must have a uniform operation throughout the state. It is not necessary that it shall operate upon every person and every locality in the state. A law may be general and have a local application or apply to a designated class if it operates equally and uniformly upon all the subjects within the class for which it was adopted, and upon all persons and parts of the state that are brought within the relation and circumstances provided by it. It must affect alike all persons in like situations, and where it operates upon a class, the classification must not be arbitrary or capricious, but must be reasonable and pertain to some peculiarity in the subject-matter calling for the legislation. This principle is discussed in the following cases: Burks v. Walker (1909) 25 Okla. 353, 109 P. 544; Leatherock v. Lawter (1915) 45 Okla. 715, 147 P. 324; Coyle v. Smith (1911) 28 Okla. 121, 113 P. 944; School Dist. No. 85 v. School Dist No. 71 (1928) 135 Okla. 270, 276 P. 186; City of Sapulpa v. Land (1924) 101 Okla. 22, 223 P. 640.

¶6 In Leatherock v. Lawter, supra, it is said:

"Whether an act of the Legislature be a local or general law must be determined by the generality with which it affects the people as a whole rather than the extent of territory over which it operates, and if it affects equally all persons who come within its range, it is neither local nor special."

¶7 In 59 C. J. 730, it is said:

"While a statute which is applicable to all of the people of the state and which operates in all parts of the state is most general in its character, it is not necessary that a law, in order to be general, shall affect all of the people of the state, or all of the state, nor need it include all classes of individuals; it may be intended to operate over a limited number of persons or things, or within a limited territory, and if every person or locality brought within the relations and circumstances provided for by the law is affected, the law may be general although presently operative on but a single individual, or thing, place, or political division, such as a county or municipal corporation; find its general character is not affected by the number of persons, things, or localities which come within the scope of its operation."

¶8 Defendants rely, by way of analogy, upon cases sustaining the validity of acts establishing, superior courts in all counties having a certain population, with cities therein of a certain population (Burks v. Walker, supra; Herndon v. Anderson [1933] 165 Okla. 104, 25 P. (2d) 326), and also establishing a superior...

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39 practice notes
  • City of Enid v. Public Employees Relations Board, 2005 OK 55 (OK 7/5/2005), No. 101729
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • July 5, 2005
    ...the persons, entities or things has a sound and rational relation to the subject of the legislation. Sheldon v. Grand River Dam Authority, 1938 OK 76, ¶15, 76 P.2d 355, 360. See also Hudgins v. Foster, 1928 OK 243, ¶30, 267 P. 645, 649 (striking down a statute abolishing township offices in......
  • Jacobs Ranch, L.L.C. v. Smith, No. 101,727.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • May 23, 2006
    ...Corp. Comm'n, 1956 OK 313, 312 P.2d 916. ¶ 26 It is a basic principle that water is a natural resource, Sheldon v. Grand River Dam Auth., 1938 OK 76, 76 P.2d 355; Anderson-Prichard Oil Corp. v. Okla. Corp. Comm'n, 1951 OK 234, 241 P.2d 363; Kline v. Okla. Water Resources Bd., 1988 OK 18, 75......
  • Gruen v. State Tax Commission, 31083.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • November 5, 1949
    ...on the Boswell case, the following passage from the former is indeed significant: ' In Sheldon v. Grand River Dam Authority, 182 Okl. 24, 76 P.2d 355, we held that said Authority was not a political corporation or subdivision of the State within the meaning of section 26 of article 10 of th......
  • Gruen v. State Tax Commission, 31083.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • November 5, 1949
    ...on the Boswell case, the following passage from the former is indeed significant: 'In Sheldon v. Grand River Dam Authority, 182 Okl. 24, 76 P.2d 355, we held that said Authority was not a political corporation or subdivision of the State within the meaning of section 26 of article 10 of the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
39 cases
  • City of Enid v. Public Employees Relations Board, 2005 OK 55 (OK 7/5/2005), No. 101729
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • July 5, 2005
    ...the persons, entities or things has a sound and rational relation to the subject of the legislation. Sheldon v. Grand River Dam Authority, 1938 OK 76, ¶15, 76 P.2d 355, 360. See also Hudgins v. Foster, 1928 OK 243, ¶30, 267 P. 645, 649 (striking down a statute abolishing township offices in......
  • Jacobs Ranch, L.L.C. v. Smith, No. 101,727.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • May 23, 2006
    ...Corp. Comm'n, 1956 OK 313, 312 P.2d 916. ¶ 26 It is a basic principle that water is a natural resource, Sheldon v. Grand River Dam Auth., 1938 OK 76, 76 P.2d 355; Anderson-Prichard Oil Corp. v. Okla. Corp. Comm'n, 1951 OK 234, 241 P.2d 363; Kline v. Okla. Water Resources Bd., 1988 OK 18, 75......
  • Gruen v. State Tax Commission, 31083.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • November 5, 1949
    ...on the Boswell case, the following passage from the former is indeed significant: ' In Sheldon v. Grand River Dam Authority, 182 Okl. 24, 76 P.2d 355, we held that said Authority was not a political corporation or subdivision of the State within the meaning of section 26 of article 10 of th......
  • Gruen v. State Tax Commission, 31083.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • November 5, 1949
    ...on the Boswell case, the following passage from the former is indeed significant: 'In Sheldon v. Grand River Dam Authority, 182 Okl. 24, 76 P.2d 355, we held that said Authority was not a political corporation or subdivision of the State within the meaning of section 26 of article 10 of the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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