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Continental Nat. Bk. v. Toll Hwy. Com.

OPINION FILED MARCH 27, 1969.

CONTINENTAL ILLINOIS NATIONAL BANK AND TRUST COMPANY OF CHICAGO, TRUSTEE, APPELLANT,

v.

THE ILLINOIS STATE TOLL HIGHWAY COMMISSION ET AL., APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD J. EGAN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied May 28, 1969.

The appellant brought an action in the circuit court of Cook County seeking to have the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority Act (Authority Act) declared unconstitutional. The appellant and the appellees later moved for summary judgment. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the appellees, upholding the constitutionality of the Act, as amended, and the appellant has appealed directly to this court. The Authority Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 121, par. 100-1 to 100-35, as amended 1968, Laws of 1968, p. ___, Sen. Bill, No. 2072) is the successor to and in many respects resembles the Illinois State Toll Highway Commission Act (Commission Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 121, par. 314a26 to 314a54) which was held constitutional by this court in People v. Illinois State Toll Highway Com. (1954), 3 Ill.2d 218. The appellant is the trustee for persons holding more than $300,000,000 in outstanding Northern Illinois Toll Highway revenue bonds which were issued under the bond resolution of the Illinois State Toll Highway Commission (Commission) of October 25, 1955.

The Authority Act was to have become effective April 1, 1968. However, through proceedings in the trial court the effective date of the Act has been stayed pending the resolution of the questions being considered here.

The appellant first contends that the Authority Act is void because, as originally enacted, it violated section 16 of article IV of the Illinois constitution, and it is argued, the defect could not be cured by a later amendment.

The constitutional provision concerned, in pertinent part, states: "Bills making appropriations * * * for the salaries of the officers of the government, shall contain no provision on any other subject." The original section 35(a) of the Authority Act did contain an appropriation for salaries of members of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (Authority). However, during the pendency of the proceedings in the trial court the legislature passed emergency amendatory legislation (to become effective August 20, 1968) which inter alia amended section 35(a) by deleting the appropriation for officers' compensation and setting up such appropriation in a separate Act, August 20, 1968, (Laws of 1968, pp. ___, Sen. Bills Nos. 2071, 2072). It is unnecessary for us to determine whether section 35(a), as originally enacted, was valid, as we judge that the amendments described effectually remedied the defect, if any, claimed by the appellant. Krause v. Peoria Housing Authority, 370 Ill. 356, 371; see Chatkin v. University of Illinois, 411 Ill. 105, 106-111, and Sipple v. University of Illinois, 4 Ill.2d 593; see also, Lennox v. Housing Authority of Omaha, 137 Neb. 582, 588, 290 N.W. 451, 456.

Many of the appellant's constitutional objections to the Authority Act claim alleged ambiguities in and conflicts between various sections of the statute. It appears appropriate that before undertaking consideration of these objections we restate some of the guidelines this court has developed in reviewing the constitutionality of statutes. We will presume that the legislature intended to enact a valid law. It is our duty to construe acts of the legislature so as to affirm their constitutionality and validity, if it can reasonably be done, and further if their construction is doubtful, the doubt will be decided in favor of the validity of the law challenged. (Illinois Crime Investigating Com. v. Buccieri, 36 Ill.2d 556, 561, and cases there cited.) Similarly, "It is our duty to so interpret a statute as to promote its essential purposes and to avoid, if possible, a construction that would raise doubts as to its validity." Craig v. Peterson, 39 Ill.2d 191, 201; accord, People v. Nastasio, 19 Ill.2d 524, 529.

A complaint by the appellant of the type described in the preceding paragraph is that section 33 of the Authority Act is unconstitutionally unclear and imprecise. Specifically, the objections are that the language of the section is conflicting as to when the Commission's property will pass to the Authority; that it leaves in doubt the status of the Commission and the relationship between the Commission and the Authority; and that it fails to bring into existence a fully functioning Authority to administer existing toll highways in this State.

Section 33, as amended, reads:

"On April 1, 1968, all duties, obligations, functions and powers of The Illinois State Toll Highway Commission, together with all property, whether real or personal, rights, privileges, interest and any and all other assets whether real, personal or mixed, shall be transferred to and shall vest in The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, which shall own, operate and control the same in accordance with the provisions of `An Act in relation to the construction, operation, regulation and maintenance of a system of toll highways and to create The Illinois State Toll Highway Commission, and to define its powers and duties and to repeal an Act therein named', approved July 13, 1953, as amended, and all terms, covenants and conditions set forth in any resolutions heretofore or hereafter adopted authorizing and providing for the issuance of Revenue Bonds by The Illinois State Toll Highway Commission under `An Act, in relation to the construction, operation, regulation and maintenance of a system of toll highways and to create The Illinois State Toll Highway Commission, and to define its powers and duties and to repeal an Act therein named', approved July 13, 1953, as amended, except as herein provided. The chairman and commissioners of The Illinois State Toll Highway Commission shall serve as the chairman and directors, respectively, of the Authority, with all of the rights, privileges and emoluments of such officers until such appointments are made by the Governor under Section 3 of this Act.

"It is the intention and purpose of this Section to transfer management and operation of the existing toll highways of the Illinois State Toll Highway Commission to the board of directors of The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, but to require that the Authority comply with all covenants, conditions, terms and provisions imposed by `An Act in relation to the construction, operation, regulation and maintenance of a system of toll highways and to create The Illinois State Toll Highway Commission, and to define its powers and duties and to repeal an Act therein named', approved July 13, 1953, as amended, until after all obligations of any kind or character whatsoever incurred by The Illinois State Toll Highway Commission under that Act have been paid in full from revenues, or income from whatever source derived, including but not limited to bonds issued under Section 17 herein. Title to such toll highway or toll highways after all such obligations have been paid in full shall be vested in the Authority hereby created, and the Authority hereby created is authorized to continue to establish tolls, rates and charges for use of such facilities and pledge the income therefrom, after maintenance and operation costs, to the payment of any or all bonds issued under this Act, until all bonds issued by the Authority under this Act have been paid in full, notwithstanding any other law to the contrary."

We do not find the sections fatally vague and imprecise. The purpose of the section and its provisions for the time and procedure of transfer from the Commission to the Authority are adequately clear and definite. Section 33 in explicit terms provides: "On April 1, 1968, all duties, obligations, functions and powers" of the Commission and "all" its "property" "shall be transferred to and shall vest" in the Authority, subject only to the qualification that the Authority "shall own, operate and control same in accordance with the provisions" of the Commission Act, as amended, and in accordance with "all terms, covenants and conditions set forth in any resolutions * * * for the issuance of Revenue Bonds" adopted thereunder, "except as herein provided." Then, after "all such obligations [of the Commission under that Act] have been paid in full" provision is made in the last sentence of the section for the Authority's retention of title to the toll highways until the retirement of all bonds issued by the Authority.

Further, it is plain that the "intention and purpose" of the section inter alia is to dissolve the Commission and "transfer management and operation of the existing toll highways" of the Commission "to the board of directors of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority." To achieve an orderly transition, section 33 expressly provides that the "chairman and commissioners of The Illinois State Toll Highway Commission shall serve as the chairman and directors, respectively, of the Authority, with all of the rights, privileges and emoluments of such officers until such appointments are made by the Governor under Section 3 of this Act." This clause ensures the existence from the effective date of the Act until appointments are made pursuant to section 3 of a governing ...


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