68 Op. Att'y Gen. 311 (1979)
 
 
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Wisconsin Attorney General Opinions

Opinion # OAG 92-79,

16 October 1979.

Public Records; Register of Deeds;
The amount payable to a register of deeds
for issuing certified copies of birth, death,
and marriage records is $4 if the register
must search for the records but $1 if no
search is necessary.

DONALD E. PERCY, Secretary
Department of Health and Social Services

You ask whether the fees payable to county
registers of deeds for certified copies of
birth, death, and marriage records as
established by Section 59.57(7), Stats.,
are in conflict with the fees required by
Section 69.24(1)(a), Stats., for certified
copies of the same types of records, and, if
they do conflict, which one prevails.

More specifically, you ask whether the
register of deeds is to charge $4 or $1
for these records.

It is my opinion that these statutes
do not conflict.

Section 69.24(1)(a), Stats., calling for
a $4 charge, applies when a register of
deeds must search for the records.

Section 59.57(7), Stats., calling for a $1
charge, applies where no search is necessary.

Section 59.57, Stats., in pertinent
part provides:

Register of deeds; fees.

Every register of deeds shall
receive the following fees:
. . . .

59.57(7)

For a certified copy of the full record
of any marriage, birth or death, $1; and
for a short-form certificate, 25 cents,
with the exceptions stated in Chapter 69.

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Section 69.24(1), Stats.,
in pertinent part
provides:

69.24(1)

The state registrar, register of deeds,
and city health officer who are
authorized to issue certified copies,
as stated in this subchapter, shall
collect the following fees for the
search, filing and issuing of certified
copies of birth, death, marriage and
divorce records . . . .

69.24(1)(a)

A fee of $4 for the search of the files.

If a record is located, no additional
fee is required for issuance of the
first certified copy.

The department may set additional fees,
not to exceed $2 for each additional
copy after the first copy.

. . . . . .

69.24(1)(d)

A fee of $1 for a short form
certificate, except that such
certificate for a person under
18 years of age shall be issued free.

A construction which contains an implied
statutory repeal is disfavored.

State ex rel. Sauk County D. A. v. Gollmar,
32 Wis.2d 406, 412,
145 N.W.2d 670 (1966).

Accord,

State v. Dairyland Power Cooperative,
52 Wis.2d 45, 51,
187 N.W.2d 878 (1971);

State v. Consolidated Freightways Corp.,
72 Wis.2d 727, 738,
242 N.W.2d 192 (1976).

The general rule of statutory construction
is that where two provisions are susceptible
of a construction which will give operation
to both, without doing violence to either,
it is incumbent to search for a reasonable
theory under which to reconcile them so that
both may be given full force and effect.

State ex rel. Thompson v. Gibson,
22 Wis.2d 275, 292,
125 N.W.2d 636 (1964).

Accord,
Raisanen v. Milwaukee,
35 Wis.2d 504, 516,
151 N.W.2d 129 (1967);

Kramer v. Hayward,
57 Wis.2d 302, 311,
203 N.W.2d 871 (1973).

The key to harmonizing these statutes is the
provision of Section 69.24(1)(a), Stats.,
which reads "for the search of the files."

The Legislature evidently intended that a
county should be compensated for the time
required for a register of deeds to search
through county files for birth, death,
marriage or divorce records.

The larger fee of Section 69.24(1)(a),
Stats., must be paid whether or not the
search produces the desired records.

The fee in Section 59.57(7), Stats.,
applies where there is no search.

In addition, the legislative history of
Section 69.24(1)(a), Stats., supports
this harmonization.

 
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Chapter 43, Section 162, Laws of 1967,
amended Section 69.24(1)(a), Stats. (1965),
in the following manner:

A fee of $ 2 for the issuance
of a certified copy of any record
previously filed search of the files.

If a record is located, no additional
fee is required for issuance
of a certified copy.

The substantive changes in the provisions
of Section 69.24(1)(a), Stats., clearly
illustrate the Legislature's intent.

The fee required by Section 69.24(1)(a),
Stats., is not for the issuance of
certified copies of records.

Rather, the fee is for the time and effort
required to locate records in public files.

For purposes of clarification, it should
also be noted that the language of
Section 59.57(7), Stats., which
refers to "the exceptions stated
in Chapter 69," applies to the provision of
Section 69.24(1)(d), Stats., that "such
certificate for a person under 18
years of age shall be issued free."

The grammatical structure of Section
59.57(7), Stats., which places the language
of exception after the semicolon, indicates
that the language does not apply to
certified copies of full records,
but to short form certificates.

BCL:CDH


 
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