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Gill v. Miller

OPINION FILED JANUARY 24, 1983.

PAUL P. GILL, COUNTY CLERK, ET AL., APPELLEES,

v.

JEFFERY C. MILLER, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AID, ET AL., APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County, the Hon. John C. Layng, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal is from a summary judgment that the funding provisions of Public Act 82-645, "An Act in relation to domestic relations and domestic violence shelters and service programs" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 40, par. 2401 et seq.) (hereafter the Act) are unconstitutional. The judgment was entered in the circuit court of Winnebago County following an action brought by Paul P. Gill, the county clerk of Winnebago County, and Ronald Kotche, the clerk of the circuit court of Winnebago County. Appeal was taken directly to this court under Rule 302(a) (73 Ill.2d R. 302(a)) by Jeffery C. Miller, the Director of the Department of Public Aid, and the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a not-for-profit corporation that the circuit court allowed to intervene.

The Governor signed the Act into law on September 24, 1981. It became effective on January 1, 1982. The Act provides that the Department of Public Aid (the Department) shall administer or provide for the administration of shelters and service programs for victims of domestic violence. The statute states that the Department shall provide for the funding of such shelters and programs from the Domestic Violence Shelter and Service Fund (the Fund).

The Act amended section 3 of "An Act to provide for the fees of the sheriff, recorder of deeds and county clerk in counties of the third class" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 53, par. 73) and section 18 of "An Act concerning fees and salaries, and to classify the several counties of this state with reference thereto" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 53, par. 35). These amendments increase by $10 the fees that are charged by county clerks for the issuance of marriage licenses, and provide that "$10 [of that fee] shall be paid into the * * * Fund." Too, the Act amended sections 27.1 and 27.2 of "An Act to revise the law in relation to clerks of courts>" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 25, pars. 27.1, 27.2) to provide that $5 of the $45 fee charged by circuit court clerks for the filing of a dissolution of marriage action "shall be paid into the * * * Fund."

The Act amended, too, section 1.2f of "An Act to revise the law in relation to county clerks" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 35, par. 1.2f). The Act provides:

"Pursuant to `An Act in relation to domestic relations and domestic violence shelters and service programs', enacted by the 82nd General Assembly, the county clerk shall deposit in the Domestic Violence Shelter and Service Fund, monthly by the 10th day of the month following, certain fees derived from marriage licenses and marriage dissolution cases."

The Winnebago county officers brought this action on January 4, 1982, almost immediately after the Act took effect. Their complaint alleged that the Act was unconstitutional because it provided that "the county clerk shall deposit" the fees into the Fund. The officers pointed out that the Constitution of Illinois provides:

"Compensation of officers and employees and the office expenses of units of local government shall not be paid from fees collected. Fees may be collected as provided by law and by ordinance and shall be deposited upon receipt with the treasurer of the unit. Fees shall not be based upon funds disbursed or collected, nor upon the levy or extension of taxes." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Const. 1970, art. VII, sec. 9(a).

The circuit court held the statute unconstitutional on May 28, 1982. Pursuant to an order entered by the circuit court, the plaintiffs, the circuit court clerk and the county clerk, have continued to collect the fees specified in the Act. By the court's order, the portion of those fees which the Act directs to be paid into the Fund has been held in an escrow account pending this appeal.

After the court had held the Act to be unconstitutional, the legislature repealed the section that called for the county clerk to deposit the fees into the Fund. (Pub. Act 82-888, "An Act to amend "The Illinois Domestic Violence Act', approved September 24, 1981, and other Acts herein named," sec. 2 (eff. Aug. 5, 1982) (1982 Ill. Leg. Serv. 2021 (West)).) In its place, the legislature added section 3.1 to the Act (to be codified as Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 40, par. 2403.1). The new section provides:

"Each circuit and county clerk shall deposit with the county treasurer, in accordance with Section 2 of `An Act to provide for the timely deposit of fees collected pursuant to law by any elected or appointed official of local government', approved September 1, 1972, all fees or portions of fees collected pursuant to law, which are designated for payment into the Domestic Violence Shelter and Service Fund. The county treasurer shall, monthly, by the 10th day of the month following receipt, remit the amounts so deposited to the State Treasurer, who shall deposit such amounts into the Domestic Violence Shelter and Service Fund in the State treasury." Pub. Act 82-888, sec. 2.

The amendment was approved on August 5, 1982, and took effect from that date. Involved here is the disposition to be made of the moneys collected between the effective date of the Act and the effective date of the amendment.

It is fundamental that in construing a statute a court is to ascertain and give effect to the legislature's intent. (People ex rel. Gibson v. Cannon (1976), 65 Ill.2d 366, 369.) It will be presumed that in enacting a statute the legislature acted in the light of the provisions of the Constitution and intended to enact a statute not inconsistent with the Constitution. (Illinois Crime Investigating Com. v. Buccieri (1967), 36 Ill.2d 556, 561 cert. denied (1967), 389 U.S. 848, 19 L.Ed.2d 117, 88 S.Ct. 75.) Accordingly, we must construe the Act here as not offending the Constitution, provided of course that the construction is reasonable. Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust Co. v. Illinois State Toll Highway Com. (1969), 42 Ill.2d 385, 389.

In ascertaining the legislature's intent we should consider the statute in its entirety, noting the subject it addresses and the legislature's apparent objective in enacting it. (Chastek v. Anderson (1981), 83 Ill.2d 502, 510-11.) Where the letter of the statute conflicts with the spirit of it, the spirit will be controlling when ...


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