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PRIOR PASSAGE - NONE
A01145
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
196
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY DIAMOND, BERNSTINE, CAUSER, DUSH, EMRICK, EVERETT,
IRVIN, JAMES, KAUFFMAN, KEEFER, MACKENZIE, MILLARD,
B. MILLER, PICKETT, RADER, RAPP, ROAE, ROTHMAN, RYAN, SAYLOR,
WARNER AND ZIMMERMAN, JANUARY 28, 2019
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, JANUARY 28, 2019
A JOINT RESOLUTION
Proposing integrated and distinct amendments to the Constitution
of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, organizing the Judiciary
into representative districts and further providing for
residency requirements; and further providing for exemption
from taxation.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby resolves as follows:
Section 1. The following integrated amendments to the
Constitution of Pennsylvania are proposed in accordance with
Article XI:
(1) That section 2 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 2. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court (a) shall be the highest court of the
Commonwealth and in this court shall be reposed the supreme
judicial power of the Commonwealth;
(b) shall consist of seven justices, to be elected from
seven judicial districts which shall be established by law, one
of whom shall be the Chief Justice; and
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(c) shall have such jurisdiction as shall be provided by
law.
(2) That section 3 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 3. Superior Court.
The Superior Court shall be a statewide court, and shall
consist of the number of judges, which shall be not less than
seven judges, to be elected from judicial districts which shall
be established by law, and have such jurisdiction as shall be
provided by this Constitution or by the General Assembly. One of
its judges shall be the president judge.
(3) That section 4 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 4. Commonwealth Court.
The Commonwealth Court shall be a statewide court, and shall
consist of the number of judges, to be elected from judicial
districts which shall be established by law, and have such
jurisdiction as shall be provided by law. One of its judges
shall be the president judge.
(4) That section 11 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 11. Judicial districts; boundaries.
[The number and boundaries of judicial districts shall be
changed by the General Assembly only with the advice and consent
of the Supreme Court.]
(a) The number of judges and justices of the Supreme Court,
the Superior Court and the Commonwealth Court elected from each
judicial district shall provide every resident of the
Commonwealth with approximately equal representation on a court.
Each judicial district shall be composed of compact and
contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as
practicable. Each judicial district shall elect one judge or
justice. Unless absolutely necessary, no county, city,
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incorporated town, borough, township or ward may be divided in
forming a judicial district.
(b) The General Assembly shall, by law, establish:
(1) The judicial districts from which justices of the
Supreme Court and the judges of the Superior Court and the
Commonwealth Court are elected.
(2) A transition to an appellate court judiciary elected
from judicial districts.
(3) The effect of set judicial districts upon eligibility to
seek retention election.
(4) The order in which judicial districts shall elect
justices of the Supreme Court and judges of the Superior Court
and the Commonwealth Court.
(5) The decennial realignment of the appellate judicial
districts based on the Federal decennial census, beginning in
2021 and occurring each ten years thereafter.
(c) Except as provided under subsection (b) and section
7(b), the number and boundaries of all other judicial districts
shall be established by the General Assembly by law, with the
advice and consent of the Supreme Court.
(5) That section 12 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 12. Qualifications of justices, judges and justices of the
peace.
(a) Justices, judges and justices of the peace shall be
citizens of the Commonwealth. Justices and judges, except the
judges of the traffic court in the City of Philadelphia, shall
be members of the bar of the Supreme Court. Justices [and judges
of statewide courts, for a period of one year preceding their
election or appointment and during their continuance in office,
shall reside within the Commonwealth. Other], judges and
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justices of the peace, for a period of one year preceding their
election or appointment and during their continuance in office,
shall reside within their respective districts, except as
provided in this article for temporary assignments.
(b) Justices of the peace shall be members of the bar of the
Supreme Court or shall complete a course of training and
instruction in the duties of their respective offices and pass
an examination prior to assuming office. Such courses and
examinations shall be as provided by law.
Section 3. (a) Upon the first passage by the General
Assembly of these proposed constitutional amendments, the
Secretary of the Commonwealth shall proceed immediately to
comply with the advertising requirements of section 1 of Article
XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and shall transmit the
required advertisements to two newspapers in every county in
which such newspapers are published in sufficient time after
passage of these proposed constitutional amendments.
(b) Upon the second passage by the General Assembly of these
proposed constitutional amendments, the Secretary of the
Commonwealth shall proceed immediately to comply with the
advertising requirements of section 1 of Article XI of the
Constitution of Pennsylvania and shall transmit the required
advertisements to two newspapers in every county in which such
newspapers are published in sufficient time after passage of
these proposed constitutional amendments. The Secretary of the
Commonwealth shall submit the proposed constitutional amendments
under section 1 of this resolution to the qualified electors of
this Commonwealth as a single ballot question as provided under
subsection (c) at the first primary, general or municipal
election which meets the requirements of and is in conformance
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with section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania
and which occurs at least three months after the proposed
constitutional amendments are passed by the General Assembly.
Section 1.1. The following distinct amendments to the
Constitution of Pennsylvania are proposed in accordance with
Article XI:
That section 2 of Article VIII be amended to read:
§ 2. Exemptions and special provisions.
(a) The General Assembly may by law exempt from taxation:
(i) Actual places of regularly stated religious worship;
(ii) Actual places of burial, when used or held by a person
or organization deriving no private or corporate profit
therefrom and no substantial part of whose activity consists of
selling personal property in connection therewith;
(iii) That portion of public property which is actually and
regularly used for public purposes;
(iv) That portion of the property owned and occupied by any
branch, post or camp of honorably discharged servicemen or
servicewomen which is actually and regularly used for
benevolent, charitable or patriotic purposes; and
(v) Institutions of purely public charity, but in the case
of any real property tax exemptions only that portion of real
property of such institution which is actually and regularly
used for the purposes of the institution.
(b) The General Assembly may, by law:
(i) Establish standards and qualifications for private
forest reserves, agricultural reserves, and land actively
devoted to agricultural use, and make special provision for the
taxation thereof;
(ii) Establish as a class or classes of subjects of taxation
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the property or privileges of persons who, because of age,
disability, infirmity or poverty are determined to be in need of
tax exemption or of special tax provisions, and for any such
class or classes, uniform standards and qualifications. The
Commonwealth, or any other taxing authority, may adopt or employ
such class or classes and standards and qualifications, and
except as herein provided may impose taxes, grant exemptions, or
make special tax provisions in accordance therewith. No
exemption or special provision shall be made under this clause
with respect to taxes upon the sale or use of personal property,
and no exemption from any tax upon real property shall be
granted by the General Assembly under this clause unless the
General Assembly shall provide for the reimbursement of local
taxing authorities by or through the Commonwealth for revenue
losses occasioned by such exemption;
(iii) Establish standards and qualifications by which local
taxing authorities may make uniform special tax provisions
applicable to a taxpayer for a limited period of time to
encourage improvement of deteriorating property or areas by an
individual, association or corporation, or to encourage
industrial development by a non-profit corporation; and
(iv) Make special tax provisions on any increase in value of
real estate resulting from residential construction. Such
special tax provisions shall be applicable for a period not to
exceed two years.
(v) Establish standards and qualifications by which local
taxing authorities in counties of the first and second class may
make uniform special real property tax provisions applicable to
taxpayers who are longtime owner-occupants as shall be defined
by the General Assembly of residences in areas where real
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property values have risen markedly as a consequence of the
refurbishing or renovating of other deteriorating residences or
the construction of new residences.
(vi) Authorize local taxing authorities to exclude from
taxation an amount based on the assessed value of homestead
property. The exclusions authorized by this clause shall not
exceed 100% of the assessed value of each homestead property
within a local taxing jurisdiction. A local taxing authority may
not increase the millage rate of its tax on real property to pay
for these exclusions.
(c) Citizens and residents of this Commonwealth, who served
in any war or armed conflict in which the United States was
engaged and were honorably discharged or released under
honorable circumstances from active service, shall be exempt
from the payment of all real property taxes upon the residence
occupied by the said citizens and residents of this Commonwealth
imposed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or any of its
political subdivisions if, as a result of military service, they
are blind, paraplegic or double or quadruple amputees or have a
service-connected disability declared by the United States
Veterans Administration or its successor to be a total or 100%
permanent disability, and if the State Veterans' Commission
determines that such persons are in need of the tax exemptions
granted herein. This exemption shall be extended to the
unmarried surviving spouse upon the death of an eligible veteran
provided that the State Veterans' Commission determines that
such person is in need of the exemption.
(d) A person shall not be subject to a tax on income if the
person's income is less than $50,000 annually.
Section 3. (a) Upon the first passage by the General
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Assembly of these proposed constitutional amendments, the
Secretary of the Commonwealth shall proceed immediately to
comply with the advertising requirements of section 1 of Article
XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and shall transmit the
required advertisements to two newspapers in every county in
which such newspapers are published in sufficient time after
passage of these proposed constitutional amendments.
(b) Upon the second passage by the General Assembly of these
proposed constitutional amendments, the Secretary of the
Commonwealth shall proceed immediately to comply with the
advertising requirements of section 1 of Article XI of the
Constitution of Pennsylvania and shall transmit the required
advertisements to two newspapers in every county in which such
newspapers are published in sufficient time after passage of
these proposed constitutional amendments. The Secretary of the
Commonwealth shall:
(1) Submit the proposed constitutional amendments under
section 1 of this resolution to the qualified electors of
this Commonwealth as a single ballot question at the first
primary, general or municipal election which meets the
requirements of and is in conformance with section 1 of
Article XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and which
occurs at least three months after the proposed
constitutional amendments are passed by the General Assembly
(2) Submit the proposed constitutional amendments under
section 1.1 of this resolution to the qualified electors of
this Commonwealth as separate ballot questions at the first
primary, general or municipal election which meets the
requirements of and is in conformance with section 1 of
Article XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and which
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occurs at least three months after the proposed
constitutional amendments are passed by the General Assembly.
(c) The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall place these the
proposed constitutional amendments under section 1 on the ballot
as a single ballot question in the following form:
Shall sections 2, 3, 4, 11 and 12 of Article V of the
Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that
judges and justices of the Supreme Court, the Superior
Court and the Commonwealth Court be elected from judicial
districts established by the General Assembly which must
be compact, contiguous and nearly equal in population as
practicable and to require that all justices, judges and
justices of the peace to be residents of their judicial
districts for one year preceding election or appointment
and during service?
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