The Philadelphia Bar Association is unique among metropolitan bar associations in its commitment to a comprehensive legislative action program. Association members have opportunities to affect governmental decision-making at the federal, state and local levels. Association sections and committees have the opportunity to review city, state and federal legislation and to make suggestions regarding legislation of interest. Sections and committees are often called upon to take a pro-active stance by assisting in the drafting of legislation, and are sometimes the impetus for initiating legislation.
- The House and Senate are currently in recess for the primary elections next Tuesday. Both will return on May 21st with the House staying in until May 24th to complete its version of the budget. The session schedule for June is full as they attempt to pass a budget within the constitutional time period.
- The confirmation process for the DEP (Kathleen McGinty) and DCNR (Michael Diberardinis) cabinet secretaries became the matter that seemed to take up much of the energy of the General Assembly over the past month. The confirmations focused on potential ethical issues concerning grant money and appropriations. The story was first reported by John Bear in his Daily News column and quickly escalated from that point. By the end of the process, both Secretaries were overwhelmingly approved by the Senate.
- The Senate State Government Committee this week passed three constitutional amendments to reduce the size of the General Assembly, prohibit voting in the lame duck session, change the succession process for LT Governor, and authorize the Legislative Reapportionment Committee to do the redistricting. Left on the table was a proposal to do term limits for the General Assembly members. The House Reform Commission took testimony on reducing the size of the legislature and other open government measures. The Reform Commission has scheduled a series of public hearings to take testimony on what reforms should be ultimately considered by the General Assembly.
- Rumors are rampant that there are very few votes in either chamber for the Governors seven new taxes to raise revenue. The new members have been pushing their leadership to do a budget without any tax increases because of perceived pressure back home in their districts. Some of the more senior members are calling for the WAMS to be deleted if it means that they can avoid a tax vote. There is strong talk that the GA may attempt to negotiate a budget among the four caucuses and then pass it before June 30 and leave it up to the Governor as to whether he wants to push for increasing taxes.
- With respect to Philadelphia Bar Association specific issues, the Senate Judiciary Committee last week reported Title 15 Business Code changes. The committee included the requirement that all actions related to the formation and dissolution of LLPs and LLCs must conform with the current corporate code legal advertising rules.
- The following is the current legislative session schedule until the end of June:
May 21, 22, and 23
June 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30