Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

April 16, 2007

The Honorable Louis C. DeLuca
Senate Minority Leader
The Honorable Andrew Roraback
State Senator, 30th District
General Assembly
State Capitol
Hartford, CT 06106-1591

Dear Senators DeLuca and Roraback:

         You have requested our opinion as to whether Section 27-76 of the Connecticut General Statutes permits honor guards from bona fide Connecticut State Veteran’s Organizations to accept pay at a rate of less than the fifty dollars per day as set forth in that statute.  We interpret your inquiry to be whether the Adjutant General may pay veterans who serve as honor guard members less than fifty dollars per day.

Conn. Gen. Stat. §  27-76 provides, in pertinent part, that

[w]hen requested by the commander of any accredited veteran organization or by friends or relatives of any deceased person who has served in the armed forces of the United States during time of war . . . the Adjutant General shall order an honor guard detail from the National Guard, the naval militia, the State Guard or the organized militia to attend the funeral, except that if an honor guard from such detail is unavailable or committed elsewhere, the Adjutant General shall request an honor guard detail from a bona fide Connecticut state veteran’s organization . . . . The members thereof shall be compensated at the rate of fifty dollars per day.  Such compensation shall be paid from funds appropriated to the Adjutant General for the pay of the National Guard and from federal funds received from that purpose.

(Emphasis supplied.)

In construing a statute, we make “a reasoned search for the intention of the legislature…we look to the words of the statute itself, to the legislative history and the circumstances surrounding its enactment, to the legislative policy it was designed to implement, and to its relationship to existing legislation and common law principles governing the same general subject matter.”  State v. Courchesne, 262 Conn. 537, 577, 816 A.2d 562 (2003).  See, State v. Patterson, 2005 Conn. Lexis 531 (Conn. December 20, 2005)

We first note Conn. Gen. Stat. §  27-76 specifically states that honor guard members shall be compensated at a rate of fifty dollars per day. We conclude that this statutory rate is mandatory rather than directory. "The legislature's use of the word 'shall' generally evidences an intent that the statute be interpreted as mandatory."  Todd v. Glines, 217 Conn. 1, 8, 583 A.2d 1287 (1991).

Our conclusion is supported by the legislative history.  P.A. 01-163 amended Section 27-76 to change the rate of pay for honor guard squad members from seventy-five percent of one day’s basic pay (but not less than fifteen nor more than thirty dollars per day) to fifty dollars per day.  The legislature intended the fifty dollar per day payment to be mandatory to conform the payments made under Section 27-76 with federal law.  10 U.S.C. §1491 (2000).

         Accordingly, honor guards from bona fide Connecticut State Veteran’s Organizations performing the services described in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 27-76 must be reimbursed at fifty dollars per day, and not a lesser rate.

         We trust that the foregoing is responsive to your inquiry.

                                                                Very truly yours,



     Tanya Feliciano DeMattia

                                                               Assistant Attorney General

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