HARRISBURG (Jan. 31, 2011) - A public hearing to examine the structure of the state's General Assembly will be held in Norristown on March 1 as part of a thorough review of the state's Constitution by a subcommittee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Constitutional Review Commission.
"These hearings are valuable opportunities for citizens to provide information that will help shape the subcommittee's recommendations to improve the structure and operation of government in the commonwealth," said Pennsylvania Bar Association President Gretchen A. Mundorff. "If the members of the commission's committees conclude that changes are needed based on public input and members' own findings, they will offer suggestions for enacting legislation, amending the state's Constitution or convening a Constitutional Convention."
"It's important that we hear all points of view during the hearing process," said James Gardner Colins, a former Commonwealth Court president judge and Philadelphia lawyer who is chairing the commission. "The constitutional scholars, practicing lawyers, sitting judges and public policy experts serving on our commission want to take a broad view and consider the multitude of ideas and opinions that could improve our commonwealth."
The PBA Constitutional Review Commission's Structure of the General Assembly Subcommittee is seeking citizens' input on the following issues:
- The size and cost of the General Assembly
- Terms of General Assembly members, including the length of terms and term limits
- Accountability of General assembly members and the recall process and impeachment process
- The state budget process
The hearing on March l will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Montgomery Bar Association, 100 W. Airy Street in Norristown.
A written statement of testimony and an application to speak at a hearing must be submitted before Feb. 15 by the individual or group wishing to present information at the hearing. The PBA Constitutional Review Commission's Structure of the General Assembly Subcommittee must approve the application and schedule the time and duration of the witness's statement at the hearing.
For a more complete description of the forms and procedures to follow, consult the webpages of the PBA Constitutional Review Commission website: www.pabar.org/crc. A statement of policies also is available by contacting: Lindsay Still, Pennsylvania Bar Association, 100 South Street, P.O. Box 186, Harrisburg, PA 17108, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the Structure of the General Assembly Subcommittee, there are subcommittees of the PBA commission examining the judiciary, legislative reapportionment, local government, public education, legislative reapportionment, and taxation and the uniformity clause. Some of these subcommittees are also holding public hearings.
In early 2012, the commission will submit a report to the association's House of Delegates, which sets the association's policies, for review and possible action.
Interest in potential changes to the state's Constitution is not new to the association. The Pennsylvania Bar Association had a leadership role in the convening of the limited constitutional convention in 1967-1968.
Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 29,000 lawyers who are members of the association.