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PRINTER'S NO. 923
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
928
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY STAMBAUGH, BOBACK, COX, DAVANZO, GLEIM, HAMM,
HERSHEY, JAMES, METCALFE, MILLARD, MOUL, PICKETT, ROWE, RYAN,
SAYLOR, STAATS AND ZIMMERMAN, MARCH 16, 2021
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, MARCH 16, 2021
AN ACT
Providing for the display of the national motto "In God We
Trust" in classrooms and other areas in public school
buildings.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the National
Motto Display Act.
Section 2. Legislative findings and declarations.
The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:
(1) The motto "In God We Trust" is part of the history
and heritage of the United States. On April 22, 2014, we
celebrated the 150th anniversary of our national motto "In
God We Trust" on our coins. Although this phrase was not
officially established as our national motto until a law was
passed by the 84th Congress and approved by President
Eisenhower, it was first introduced to the nation by Francis
Scott Key in 1814 as words that would be included in our
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national anthem.
(2) It was a Pennsylvanian, however, that installed
those words on our coins. James Pollock from Milton, became
our 13th Governor serving from 1855 to 1858. He was known as
"The Great Christian Governor." Prior to Pollock's term as
Governor and as one of the original trustees when The
Pennsylvania State University became a charter, he served as
a member of the Congress of the United States and became
friends with then congressman, Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln
became president, he appointed Pollock director of the United
States Mint.
(3) Pollock suggested the motto "In God We Trust" be
featured on all United States currency. This practice first
occurred in April of 1864 when Congress approved the use of
the motto on United States two-cent pieces. Since then, the
motto has been inscribed on most denominations of coins in an
uninterrupted period of time extending from 1916 to the
present.
(4) In 1956, the Congress of the United States adopted
the motto "In God We Trust" as the national motto. It is
currently codified at 36 U.S.C. § 302 (relating to national
motto). Since 1957, the United States Bureau of Engraving and
Printing has gradually incorporated the motto in the design
on the reverse of all paper currency.
(5) On July 24, 2000, the United States House of
Representatives, along with the concurrence of the Senate,
unanimously resolved to encourage the display of the national
motto of the United States in public buildings throughout the
nation.
(6) To increase student understanding of and familiarity
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with American historical documents, historically important
excerpts from or copies of the documents should be
prominently displayed in public school buildings.
(7) The Federal 5th, 9th and 10th Circuit Courts have
ruled that displaying the national motto passes
constitutional muster so long as the purpose of the display
is to advance or endorse the national motto rather than a
particular religious belief or practice.
Section 3. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"School entity." A school district, joint school district,
area vocational-technical school, intermediate unit, charter
school, regional charter school or cyber charter school.
Section 4. Display of motto.
(a) Governing board.--The governing board of each school
entity in this Commonwealth may display the motto "In God We
Trust," which is declared in 36 U.S.C. § 302 (relating to
national motto) to be the national motto of the United States,
in each school building.
(b) Form.--The display of the motto "In God We Trust" may
take the form of, but is not limited to, a mounted plaque or may
include artwork as a result of a student contest that may be
prominently displayed in each school building.
(c) Duties of secretary.--The Secretary of Education shall,
within 15 days of the effective date of this section and every
five years thereafter, provide each school entity with
notification of the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) and
recommendations for promotion of the national motto in
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accordance with this section.
Section 5. Effective date.
This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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