Attorney General's Opinion
Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal
December 13, 1990
Honorable J. Edward Caldwell
55 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Dear Mr. Caldwell:
In your letter of July 11, 1990 to Dale M. Dreyfus, Associate Vice President for Finance and Business Affairs at the University Connecticut, you asked for an interpretation from this office of the authority granted to the University of Connecticut by 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 90-201, e 6. You also inquired about its effect on the current state travel contract (Travel Services Agreement). It is our opinion that the policy guidelines approved by the University's Board of Trustees are authorized by 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 90-201, e 6.
In order to answer your questions, it is first necessary to analyze 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 90-201, e 6 against the pre-existing rubric of statutory and regulatory authority.
Prior to the enactment of 1990 Conn. Publ. Acts No. 90-201, e 6, University employees were generally required to adhere to the state travel rates and policies set forth in regulations promulgated by the Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) under the authority of Conn. Gen. Stat., e 5-141c. See 1 Reg. Conn. Agencies, e 5-141c-1 et seq. Those regulations govern many aspects of travel by state employees, including reimbursement reates, the procurement of air transportation tickets and required approvals. For example, the reimbursement rates for meals and miscellaneous expenses are at rates determined by the DAS Commissioner (e 5-141c-5); air transportation tickes are to be obtained by the State Comptroller (e 5-141c-9); and, in the absence of blanket authorization from the State Comptroller, the Comptroller must approve out-of-state travel in advance. (e 5-141c-3).
The only exception to these regulations for University employees was set out in Conn. Gen. Stat. e 10a-108, which provided, in pertinent part:
. . . notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes to the contrary, the president of The University of Connecticut and the executive director of The University of Connecticut Health Center shall have the authority to approve travel requests of the faculty and professional employees of their respective institutions who are not covered by collective gargaining agreements, in accordance with rates stated in the standard state travel regulations.
1990 Conn. Pub. Acts, No. 90-201, e 201, e 10 repealed Conn. Gen. Stat. e 10a-108.
1990 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 90-201, e 6 provides:
(NEW) (a) Notwithstanding any provision fo the general statutes to the contrary and except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the chief executive officer of each institution within the jurisdiction of a constitutent unit of the state system of higher education shall have the authority to approve travel requests and the payment of travel expenses incurred by faculty and professional employees of their institutions, in accordance with rates and policies approved by the board of trustees of the constituent unit, provided such rates and policies (1) are approved after reasonable opportunity has been provided for interested persons to present their views and (2) are subject to section 4-175 of the general statutes. Travel expenses paid pursuant to this subseciton shall be paid upon the order of the comptroller.
(b) Apjproved travel expenses paid from the general fund appropriations shall be paid from said fund upon the order of the comptroller drawn against said fund in accordance with rates stated in the standard state travel regulations.
It is clear from the foregoing that prior to the passage of 1990 Conn. Publ. Acts No. 90-201, some employees of the University of Connecticut and its Health Center were, by virtue of Conn. Gen. Stat. e 10a-108, exempt from only one aspect of the state travel system. The prior approval requirement of Rgulation 5-141c-3 had been superseded by the passage of Conn. Gen. Stat., e 10a-108.
1990 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 90-201 restates the pre-existing authority (to approve travel requests) and goes three steps further. First, it provides the constituent units governing boards with the authority to approve the payment of travel expenses for faculty and professional employees. Second, it empowers the constituent unit boards of trustees to approve rates for travel by those employees that is funded by sources other than the General Fund. Third, it empowers the constituent unit boards of trustees to establish policies for travel. Because the constituent units are generally exempt from the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA); Conn. Gen. LStat. e 4-188a; 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 90-201, e 6(a) requires that there be an opportunity for interested persons to submit views on proposed rates and policies, and specifically makes the declaratory judgment procedure of Conn. Gen. Stat. e 4-175 available.
In construing statutes, the goal, as stated by our Supreme Court, is ". . . to ascertain and give effect to the apparent intention of the legislature." Commission on Hospitals & Health Care v. Lakoff, 214 Conn. 321, 328, 572 A.2d 316 (1990). It is not to be presumed that the legislature would enact "superfluous and useless legislation." Personnel Director v. Freedom of Information Commission, 214 Conn. 312, 320, 572 A.2d 312 (1990). further, it is presumed that the legislature acts "with existing relevant statutes in mind, and with the intention of creating a consistent body of law." State v. Trent, 182 Conn. 595, 601, 438 A.2d 796 (1981).
The Connecticut Supreme Court has specifically addressed the meaning of the word "policies" in the context of what was, at the time, Conn. Gen. Stat. e 10-119.1
Employees Assn. v. Board of Trustees, 165 Conn. 757, 762, 345 A.2d 36 (1974), the Court, quoting Webster's Third New International Dictionary, defined "policy" as "'a definite course or method of action selected (as by a government, . . .) from among alternatives.'" Applying that definition to 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 90-201, e 6, it is clear that the authority to establish "policies" concerning travel by faculty and professional employees of higher education constituent units has been assigned to the units' governing boards. The term "policies" embraces the method of travel, the approval authority for travel and the specific arrangements for travel that must be made. All of those examples pertain to travel by employees. All are appropriate subjects of "policies" and are all addressed in the standard State Travel Regulations, the only state travel policies that can be located. It is also clear from the language of the introductory portion of the Public Act ("Notwithstanding any portion of the general statutes to the contrary . . .") that the legislature's intent was to supersede any statute that would vest policies for travel elsewhere. To construe the statute otherwise would lead to the conclusion that it is "superfluous and useless legislation."
Nothing in the foregoing conclusion is inconsistent with the existing Travel Services Agreement. Part 2, Paragraph 3 incorporates the State travel policy and contemplates changes:
No such services shall be performed contrary to written State travel policy unless an exemption to such policy is authorized by the State in advance inwriting. The current State travel policy is attached as Exhibit A hereto and are [sic] incorporated herein by reference. Revisions, if any, to said State policy will be sent to the Contractor and become governing upon receipt.
1990 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 90-201, e 6, specifically authorizes the boards of trustees of higher education constituent units to establish their own policies, and the University of connecticut's Board of Trustees has done so. The proposed policy palces travel, including air travel, under the control of the University, with the exception of certain areas where state travel reguations are incorporated by reference. Hence, the term "state travel policy" now embraces both the DAS regulatjions and the University of Connecticut's recently promulgated guidelines. It is noteworthy that the Travel Services Agreement contains a clause that specifically states that any revisions in the State travel policy "will be sent to the Contractor and become governing upon receipt." The University's guidelines are a "revision" of the State travel policy, which is expressly permitted by the Travel Services Agreement.
Finally, it is clear from the wording of 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 90-201, e 6(6) that travel by faculty and professional employees of higher education constituent units, including the University of Connecticut, that is paid from the General Fund must by in accordance with rates establshed by the Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services. This is the case even if other aspects of an employee's travel are governed by policies approved by a board of trustees.
We trust that this is responsive to your questions.
Very truly yours,
CLARINE NARDI RIDDLE
William B. Gundling
Associate Attorney General
1 Conn. Gen. Stat. e 10-119 was recodified by 1982 Conn. Publ. Acts No. 82-218 as Conn. Gen. Stat. e 10a-104(a)(1). It provides, in pertinent part:
the board of trustees of the University of Connecticut shall make rules for the government of the university and shll determine the general policies of the university, including those concerning the admission of student and the establishment of schools, colleges, divisions and departments, and shll direct the expenditure of the university's funds within the amounts available.