The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site -
www.ag.state.mi.us) STATE OF MICHIGAN JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM, ATTORNEY GENERAL
STATE OF MICHIGAN
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM, ATTORNEY GENERAL
A county sheriff has the authority to set the amount of the fingerprinting fee authorized by section 5b(9) of the Concealed Pistol Licensing Act.
Opinion No. 7102
March 5, 2002
You have asked whether a county sheriff or a county board of commissioners has the authority to set the amount of the fingerprinting fee authorized by section 5b(9) of the Concealed Pistol Licensing Act.
The Concealed Pistol Licensing Act, 1927 PA 372,1 MCL 28.421 et seq, governs the licensing of persons to carry concealed pistols. Section 5b(9) of the Act requires an applicant for a license to carry a concealed pistol to have his or her fingerprints taken by the county sheriff:
When interpreting statutory language, "[a]ll words and phrases shall be construed and understood according to the common and approved usage of the language . . . ." MCL 8.3a; Massey v Mandell, 462 Mich 375, 380; 614 NW2d 70 (2000). When considering a nonlegal word that is not defined by statute, "resort to a layman's dictionary such as Webster's is appropriate." (Footnote omitted.) Horace v City of Pontiac, 456 Mich 744, 756; 575 NW2d 762 (1998).
The definition of the word "charge" in Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged Edition (1964), p 377, includes "to fix or ask (a sum) as a fee or payment." (Emphasis added.) Thus, the word "charge," as used in section 5b(9) of the Concealed Pistol Licensing Act, includes the authority of the sheriff to fix or set the fee to be charged. This result is consistent with the discretionary language in section 5b(9) that gives the sheriff discretion whether to charge any fee at all. The use of the word "may" indicates a provision that grants discretion. Law Department Employees Union v City of Flint, 64 Mich App 359, 368; 235 NW2d 783 (1975).
The County Boards of Commissioners Act, 1851 PA 156, MCL 46.1 et seq, defines the powers and duties of county boards of commissioners. Section 11(h) of that Act generally authorizes a county board of commissioners to:
The above general grant of authority to raise money for expenses does not, however, explicitly extend to setting the fingerprinting fee chargeable by a county sheriff under the Concealed Pistol Licensing Act. Section 5b(9) of the Concealed Pistol Licensing Act, however, specifically authorizes a sheriff to "charge a fee" for the actual costs of taking fingerprints, up to $15.00. Where two statutes cover the same subject matter, one generally applicable and the other specifically applicable, the specific statute prevails over the general statute. Ex parte Landaal, 273 Mich 248, 252-253; 262 NW 897 (1935). Applying this rule of statutory construction compels the conclusion that a sheriff, not the county board of commissioners, sets the fingerprinting fee.
It is my opinion, therefore, that a county sheriff has the authority to set the amount of the fingerprinting fee authorized by section 5b(9) of the Concealed Pistol Licensing Act.