Attorney General's Opinion
Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal
December 11, 2003
Susan G. Townsley
Division of Special Revenue
555 Russell Road
Newington, CT 06111
Dear Ms. Townsley:
This is in response to your request for opinion on whether municipalities that have voted to allow bazaars and raffles, but that have no chief of police or first selectman to investigate applications and issue permits as required by the Bazaar and Raffle Act, nevertheless may permit qualifying organizations to conduct bazaars and raffles. For the following reasons, our answer is affirmative.
The Bazaar and Raffle Act, at Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 7-170 et seq., allows bazaars and raffles to be conducted by qualified organizations in municipalities which have voted to permit the activity. Municipalities may authorize the activity either by ordinance or by vote of electors at a special meeting of said electors upon petition to the "chief executive authority." Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-1711 . Once allowed locally, applications for permits are made to the chief of police, or, if there is no police department, to the first selectman. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-173. Permits may be granted by the “chief of police or first selectman” of the municipality, as the case may be, following application to, and investigation by, that official to determine if the qualifications have been met, subject to the approval of the executive director of the Division of Special Revenue. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-174.2
Your instant question concerns the fact that although all but one town in the state have voted to allow bazaars and raffles, not all towns in the state have a chief of police or a first selectman. The statute is silent as to outcome in this circumstance. Consequently, we must resort to the rules of statutory construction. In re Valerie D., 223 Conn. 492, 512-13, 613 A.2d 748 (1992).
Our approach to this issue is guided by well established principles. "[O]ur fundamental objective is to ascertain and give effect to the apparent intent of the legislature … in seeking to discern that intent, we look to the words of the statute itself, to the legislative history and circumstances surrounding its enactment, to the legislative policy it was designed to implement, and to the relationship to existing legislation and common law principles governing the same subject matter." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Herbert S. Newman & Partners v. CFC Construction Ltd. Partnership, 236 Conn. 750, 755-56, 674 A.2d 1313 (1996). Furthermore, it is an "elementary rule of statutory construction that we must read the legislative scheme as a whole in order to give effect to and harmonize all of the parts." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. Dept. of Public Utility Control, 216 Conn. 627, 636, 583 A.2d 906 (1990). Because the legislature is presumed to have created a harmonious and consistent body of work, we read statutes together when they relate to the same subject matter. Hammond v. Commissioner of Correction, 259 Conn. 855, 875-76, 792 A.2d 774 (2002) citing Derwin v. State Employees Retirement Commission, 234 Conn. 411, 420 661 A.2d 1025 (1995).
The fact that the statute provides that the investigation and permit issuing activity "shall" be conducted by the chief of police or first selectman does not necessarily disenfranchise towns that have neither office. Where, as here, the legislation is phrased in affirmative language unaccompanied by negative words, it is often held to be directory rather than mandatory. See, e.g., Winslow v. Zoning Board, 143 Conn. 381, 387-88, 122 A.2d 789 (1956).
A study of the language of the Act, and the circumstances surrounding its enactment and subsequent amendment, demonstrates that the Act should be read to allow bazaars and raffles in such towns. Historical research shows that the selectman form of town administration was an early and popular form of local government in colonial New England. In those days, several times a year, the adult males met in town meetings to discuss public questions, to lay taxes, to make local laws, and to elect officers. The chief officers were “selectmen”, from three to nine in number, who would have responsibility for the general management of the public business; the town clerk; treasurer; constables; assessors and overseers of the poor. See, generally, H. W. Elson, History of the United States of America (1904) http://www.usahistory.info/colonial/government.html (visited January 24, 2003).
In Connecticut in particular, selectmen were similarly chosen at town meetings, and these officials were responsible for the general management of the town. Our Supreme Court observed as follows:
Buck v. Barnes, 75 Conn. 460, 462, 53 A. 1012 (1903).
Each town was required, by the Connecticut Constitution of 1818, to elect selectmen. Conn. Const. (1818) Art. X § 2; Buck v. Barnes, supra at 462. The rule was repeated in the Revision of 1955. Conn. Const. (1955), Art. X § 2.3 The office of first selectman also existed from early times. Meigs v. Theis, 102 Conn. 579, 589, 129 A. 551 (1925). This office grew in importance over the years and, by 1955, each town was required to elect a first selectman. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 60h (1945 Rev.)4; Conlan v. Burton, 21 Conn. Sup. 482, 484, 157 A.2d 244 (1959).
The Bazaar and Raffle Act was first enacted in 1955. See 1955 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 55-409. Sections 6 and 8 of the Act required investigation and permit issuance by the "chief of police or first selectman." Id. The requirement has remained unchanged to date. See Conn. Gen. Stat. §7-174, supra. This survey serves to demonstrate that in 1955, if a town did not have a chief of police, at least it was required to have a first selectman who could accept and act on applications for bazaars and raffles.
In 1957, circumstances began to change. In that year, the legislature enacted the Home Rule Act which, inter alia, gave towns the option of allowing their affairs to be managed by a variety of statutorily recognized chief executive officers. See 1957 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 57-465, Sec. 7. This statutory authorization exists today in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-193(a)(2), which provides as follows:
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-193(a)(2).
First selectmen, where they existed, were still recognized as the chief executive officers of their towns. This is still the law today. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-12a. However, by 1965, the requirement that all towns elect selectmen was deleted in favor of Home Rule. See Conn. Const. (1965) Art. X § 1.
Also, in 1957, the Bazaar and Raffle Act was amended to recognize the Home Rule forms of town administration. In that year, the Act was amended to allow petitions for bazaars and raffles to be presented to the "chief executive authority" of any town, city, or borough ..." 1957 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 57-378. This language recognized that modern municipalities in Connecticut would be operated, on a day-to-day basis, by chief executive officers of a variety of titles, including, but not limited to, first selectmen. This is especially true today, where the complexities and burdens of modern municipal administration often require the retention of full-time professional administrators.
Thus, where the Bazaar and Raffle Act, in part, authorizes action by any chief executive authority of a town, and, in other parts, by a chief of police or first selectman, the rules of statutory construction compel us to read these parts together, absent evident intent to the contrary, and to conclude that applications for bazaars and raffles may be investigated, and permits issued, by the chief of police, or, if there is no police department, by the first selectman, and, where neither of those offices exist, by the chief executive authority of the town. A review of the language, legislative history, and historical context reveals no intent to disenfranchise towns without a chief of police or first selectman. Rather, we observe evidence of intent to keep pace with modern forms of town administration. Our fundamental objective must be to give effect to that legislative intent. Commissioner of Labor v. C.J.M. Services, Inc., 73 Conn. App. 39, 47, 806 A.2d 1105 (2002), pet. for certif. to appeal granted, in part, 262 Conn. 921 (2002).
In sum, municipalities which have voted to allow bazaars and raffles, but which have no chief of police or first selectman to investigate applications and issue permits, may permit qualifying organizations to conduct bazaars and raffles, with the investigation and permit issuance duties performed by the local chief executive authority.
Very truly yours,
Robert F. Vacchelli
Assistant Attorney General
1Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-171 provides:
2Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-174 provides:
3Conn. Const. (1955) Art. X § 2 provided:
Sec. 2. Each town shall, annually, or biennially, as the electors of the town may determine, elect selectmen and such officers of local police as the law may prescribe.
4Conn. Gen. Stat. § 60h (1945 Rev.) provided: