The Pennsylvania General Assembly is the legislature of the U.S. commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The legislature convenes in the State Capitol building in Harrisburg. In colonial times (1682–1776), the legislature was known as the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly and was unicameral. Since the Constitution of 1776, the legislature has been known as the General Assembly. The General Assembly became a bicameral legislature in 1791.

Membership

The General Assembly has 253 members, consisting of a Senate with 50 members and a House of Representatives with 203 members, making it the second-largest state legislature in the nation (behind New Hampshire) and the largest full-time legislature.

Senators are elected for a term of four years. Representatives are elected for a term of two years.[1] The Pennsylvania general elections are held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years. A vacant seat must be filled by special election, the date of which is set by the presiding officer of the respective house.

Senators must be at least 25 years old, and Representatives at least 21 years old. They must be citizens and residents of the state for a minimum of four years and reside in their districts for at least one year. Individuals who have been convicted of felonies, including embezzlement, bribery, and perjury, are ineligible for election; the state Constitution also adds the category of “other infamous crimes,” which can be broadly interpreted by state courts. No one who has been previously expelled from the General Assembly may be elected.[2]

Legislative districts are drawn every ten years, following the U.S. Census. Districts are drawn by a five-member commission, of which four members are the majority and minority leaders of each house (or their delegates). The fifth member, who chairs the committee, is appointed by the other four and may not be an elected or appointed official. If the leadership cannot decide on a fifth member, the State Supreme Court may appoint him or her.

While in office, legislators may not hold civil office. Even if a member resigns, the Constitution states that the legislator may not be appointed to civil office for the duration of the term to which the legislator was elected.

Legislative sessions

Title page of the 1853 Laws of Pennsylvania

The General Assembly is a continuing body within the term for which its representatives are elected. It convenes at 12 o’clock noon on the first Tuesday of January each year and then meets regularly throughout the year.[3] Both houses adjourn on November 30 in even-numbered years, when the terms of all members of the House and half the members of the Senate expire. Neither body can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other.[4]

The governor may call a special session in order to press for legislation on important issues. As of 2017, only 35 special sessions have been called in the history of Pennsylvania.[5]

The Assembly meets in the Pennsylvania State Capitol, which was completed in 1906. Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Assembly must meet in the City of Harrisburg and can move only if given the consent of both chambers.

History

During the mid-19th century, the frustration of the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with the extremely severe level of corruption in the General Assembly culminated in a constitutional amendment in 1864 which prevented the General Assembly from writing statutes covering more than one subject. Unfortunately, the amendment (today found at Section 3 of Article III of the Pennsylvania Constitution) was so poorly written that it also prevented the General Assembly from undertaking a comprehensive codification of the Commonwealth’s statutes until another amendment was pushed through in 1967 to provide the necessary exception.[6] This is why today, Pennsylvania is the only U.S. state that has not yet completed a comprehensive codification of its general statutory law. Pennsylvania is currently[when?] undertaking its first official codification process in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.[7][8]

General assembly leadership, 2021–2022

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Speaker of the House of Representatives: Bryan Cutler (R)

Majority Party (R)[9]Leadership PositionMinority Party (D)[10]
Kerry BenninghoffFloor LeaderJoanna McClinton
Donna OberlanderWhipJordan Harris
George DunbarCaucus ChairpersonDan Miller
Martina WhiteCaucus SecretaryTina Davis
Stan SaylorAppropriations Committee ChairpersonMatt Bradford
Kurt MasserCaucus AdministratorMike Schlossberg
Martin CauserPolicy Committee ChairpersonRyan Bizzarro

Pennsylvania State Senate

President pro tem of the Senate: Jake Corman (R)

Majority Party (R)[11]Leadership PositionMinority Party (D)[12]
Kim WardFloor LeaderJay Costa
John GordnerWhipAnthony H. Williams
Bob MenschCaucus ChairpersonWayne Fontana
Ryan P. AumentCaucus SecretaryMaria Collett
Pat BrowneAppropriations Committee ChairpersonVincent Hughes
Camera BartolottaCaucus AdministratorJudy Schwank
Mario ScavelloPolicy Committee ChairpersonKatie Muth

See also

References

  1. ^ “Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” (PDF). Pennsylvania General Assembly. pp. Article II Section 3: Terms of Members. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  2. ^ “CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA: Article II – The Legislature”. Pennsylvania Constitution Web Page of the Duquesne University School of Law. Duquesne University School of Law. February 11, 2010. Archived from the original on August 14, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  3. ^ “Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” (PDF). pp. Article II Section 4: Sessions. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  4. ^ “Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” (PDF). pp. Article II Section 14: Adjournments.
  5. ^ Esack, Steve (February 1, 2017). “Pennsylvania Senate Democrats seek special hearings on property tax reform”. The Morning Call. Harrisburg, PA. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  6. ^ City of Philadelphia v. Commonwealth, 838 A. 2d 566 (Pa. 2003). This decision of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania expressly acknowledges that (1) the original 1864 amendment occurred because of the General Assembly’s problems with corruption; and (2) the general view that enactment of a comprehensive codification was hindered by the perception that it would have violated the pre-1967 version of Section 3.
  7. ^ Prince, Mary Miles (2001). Prince’s Bieber Dictionary of Legal Citations (6th ed.). Wm. S. Hein Publishing. p. 343. ISBN 1-57588-669-3. LCCN 2001024375.
  8. ^ “Pennsylvania Session Laws > FAQ”. Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  9. ^ “Leaders for the 2021-22 Session”. PA House Republican Caucus. Retrieved December 6, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ “Leadership”. Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus. Retrieved December 6, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ “Senate Leadership”. Pennsylvania Senate Republicans. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  12. ^ “Leadership”. Pennsylvania Senate Democrats. Retrieved December 6, 2021.

External links