PRINTER'S NO. 1455
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
988
Session of
2020
INTRODUCED BY HUTCHINSON, MARTIN, J. WARD, SCHWANK AND KEARNEY,
JANUARY 17, 2020
REFERRED TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT, JANUARY 17, 2020
AN ACT
Amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes, in general provisions, further
providing for definitions, providing for appointment of
government study commission in distressed municipality and
further providing for first meeting of commission, for
function and duty of commission, for hearings and public
forums, for report of findings and recommendations, for
limitation on enactment of ordinance or filing of petition
and for limitation on municipal powers.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The definition of "government study commission"
or "commission" in section 2902 of Title 53 of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes is amended and the section is amended by
adding a definition to read:
§ 2902. Definitions.
Subject to additional definitions contained in subsequent
provisions of this subpart which are applicable to specific
provisions of this subpart, the following words and phrases when
used in this subpart shall have the meanings given to them in
this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
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"Distressed municipality." A municipality that has adopted
and is implementing an active recovery plan adopted under
sections 245, 246 or 256 of the act of July 10, 1987 (P.L.246,
No.47), known as the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act.
* * *
"Government study commission" or "commission." The body
elected or appointed under the provisions of Subchapter B
(relating to procedure for adoption of home rule charter or
optional plan of government).
* * *
Section 2. Title 53 is amended by adding a section to read:
§ 2914.1. Appointment of government study commission in
distressed municipality.
(a) General rule.--The council of a distressed municipality
may, by resolution, vote to organize a government study
commission under this section if the recovery plan adopted by
the distressed municipality recommends that the distressed
municipality consider the adoption of a home rule charter or
amendment of an existing home rule charter.
(b) Membership.--A government study commission organized
under subsection (a) shall be composed as follows:
(1) Each member of the council or a designee of the
member.
(2) In the case of a municipality with an elected mayor
that is not a member of council, the mayor or the mayor's
designee.
(3) The coordinator appointed under the act of July 10,
1987 (P.L.246, No.47), known as the Municipalities Financial
Recovery Act, shall serve as an ex officio member of the
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commission.
(c) Oath of office of members.--As soon as possible and in
any event no later than 30 days after a resolution to organize
under subsection (a), the members of the commission under
subsection (a) shall make an oath in the same manner provided
under section 2915 (relating to oath of office of members of
commission).
(d) Applicability.--Except as otherwise provided, the
provisions of sections 2911 (relating to submission of question
for election of government study commission), 2912 (relating to
election of members of commission), 2913 (relating to nomination
of candidates), 2914 (relating to results of election) and 2915
shall not apply to a government study commission organized under
this section.
(e) Termination of distressed status.--The subsequent
termination of distressed status of a distressed municipality
shall not have any effect on an existing government study
commission under subsection (a).
Section 3. Sections 2916(a), 2918, 2920, 2921(a) and (c),
2927 and 2962(b) and (i) of Title 53 are amended to read:
§ 2916. First meeting of commission.
(a) Procedure.--As soon as possible and in any event no
later than 15 days after its certification of election or
appointment under section 2914.1 (relating to appointment of
government study commission in distressed municipality), as
applicable, the government study commission shall organize and
hold its first meeting and elect one of its members chairman and
another member vice chairman, fix its hours and place of meeting
and adopt rules for the conduct of its business it deems
necessary and advisable.
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* * *
§ 2918. Function and duty of commission.
(a) General rule.--The government study commission shall
study the form of government of the municipality to compare it
with other available forms under the laws of this Commonwealth
and determine whether or not in its judgment the government
could be strengthened or made more clearly responsible or
accountable to the people or whether its operation could become
more economical or efficient under a changed form of government.
(b) Duties in distressed municipality.--In addition to the
requirements of subsection (a), a government study commission
under section 2914.1 (relating to appointment of government
study commission in distressed municipality), shall study and
consider the following:
(1) The recommendations within the distressed
municipality's recovery plan.
(2) The municipal services currently provided by the
distressed municipality that should be provided under a
changed form of government.
(3) The sources of fiscal and managerial dysfunction
that exist under the municipality's current form of
government that could be improved under a changed form of
government.
§ 2920. Hearings and public forums.
(a) General rule.--The government study commission shall
hold one or more public hearings, may hold private hearings and
sponsor public forums and generally shall provide for the widest
possible public information and discussion respecting the
purposes and progress of its work.
(b) Coordinator hearing.--In addition to any hearings and
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forums conducted under subsection (a), a government study
commission under section 2914.1 (relating to appointment of
government study commission in distressed municipality) shall
hold a public hearing within 30 days after the publication of
its findings and recommendations in section 2921 (relating to
report of findings and recommendations) and request that the
recovery coordinator provide testimony as to the suitability of
the proposals to address the causes of fiscal distress in the
municipality.
§ 2921. Report of findings and recommendations.
(a) General rule.--The government study commission shall
report its findings and recommendations to the citizens of the
municipality within nine months from the date of its election,
or appointment, except that it shall be permitted an additional
nine months if it elects to prepare and submit a proposed home
rule charter and an additional two months if it chooses to elect
its municipal council by districts. It shall publish or cause to
be published sufficient copies of its final report for public
study and information and shall deliver to the municipal clerk
or secretary sufficient copies of the report to supply it to any
interested citizen upon request. If the commission recommends
the adoption of a home rule charter or any of the optional plans
of government as authorized in this subpart, the report shall
contain the complete plans as recommended.
* * *
(c) Filing [copy with Department of Community and Economic
Development] copies.--A copy of the final report of the
commission with its findings and recommendations shall be filed
with the Department of Community and Economic Development and
the Local Government Commission.
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* * *
§ 2927. Limitation on enactment of ordinance, resolution or
filing of petition.
(a) General rule.--An ordinance may not be passed and a
petition may not be filed for the election of a government study
commission pursuant to section 2911 (relating to submission of
question for election of government study commission) and a
resolution may not be adopted for the appointment of a
government study commission under section 2914.1 (relating to
appointment of government study commission in distressed
municipality) while proceedings are pending under any other
petition [or], ordinance or resolution filed or passed under the
authority of this subpart nor on the same question if it has
been defeated within four years after an election has been held
pursuant to any such ordinance or petition passed or filed.
(b) Time for commencement of proceedings.--For the purpose
of this section, proceedings shall be considered as having
started:
(1) In the case of an ordinance, upon the final vote of
council in favor of the ordinance, notwithstanding the fact
that the ordinance cannot take effect until a certain number
of days thereafter.
(2) In the case of a petition, as soon as it is properly
signed by one-third of the number of registered voters
required for the petition and written notice thereof filed in
the office of the county board of elections and in the office
of the municipal clerk or secretary, who shall cause the
notice to be immediately posted in a conspicuous place in the
office, open to public inspection.
(3) In the case of a resolution, upon the adoption of
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the resolution.
§ 2962. Limitation on municipal powers.
* * *
(b) Taxing power.--Unless prohibited by the Constitution of
Pennsylvania, the provisions of this subpart or any other
statute or its home rule charter, a municipality which has
adopted a home rule charter shall have the power and authority
to enact and enforce local tax ordinances upon any subject of
taxation granted by statute to the class of municipality of
which it would be a member but for the adoption of a home rule
charter at any rate of taxation determined by the governing
body. No home rule municipality shall establish or levy a rate
of taxation upon nonresidents which is greater than the rate
which a municipality would have been authorized to levy on
nonresidents but for the adoption of a home rule charter. The
governing body shall not be subject to any limitation, other
than a provision of the home rule charter of the governing body,
on the rates of taxation imposed upon residents.
* * *
(i) Establishment of rates of taxation.--No provision of
[this subpart or any other statute] law shall limit a
municipality which adopts a home rule charter from establishing
its own rates of taxation upon all authorized subjects of
taxation except [those specified in subsection (a)(7)] as
provided in this section.
* * *
Section 4. Except as otherwise provided, the amendment of 53
Pa.C.S. § 2962 shall apply to any home rule charter provision,
including a provision adopted prior to the effective date of
this act. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the
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amendment of 53 Pa.C.S. § 2962 shall not apply to:
(1) Any tax levy adopted between January 13, 2004, and
the effective date of this section.
(2) Any tax levy in any future year first adopted
between January 13, 2004, and the effective date of this
section.
Section 5. This act shall take effect as follows:
(1) The following provisions shall take effect
immediately:
(i) This section.
(ii) Section 4.
(2) The remainder of this act shall take effect in 60
days.
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