Government of Pennsylvania

Government of Pennsylvania



Pennsylvania has had five constitutions during its statehood:[1] 1776, 1790, 1838, 1874, and 1968. Prior to that, the province of Pennsylvania was governed for a century by a book titled Frame of Government, written by William Penn, of which there were four versions: 1682, 1683, 1696, and 1701.

The capital of the Commonwealth is Harrisburg.


As with the federal government, the power structure of Pennsylvania's government is divided into three branches; the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches.


The current Governor is Tom Corbett The other elected officials composing the executive branch are the Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, Attorney General William H. Ryan, Jr., Auditor General Jack Wagner, and State Treasurer Rob McCord.[2]


Pennsylvania has a bicameral legislature set up by Commonwealth's constitution in 1790. The original Frame of Government of William Penn had a unicameral legislature.[3] The General Assembly includes 50 Senators[4] and 203 Representatives.[5] Joseph B. Scarnati III is currently President Pro Tempore of the State Senate,[6] Dominic Pileggi the Majority Leader,[7] and Robert J. Mellow the Minority Leader.[8] Keith R. McCall is Speaker of the House of Representatives,[9] with Todd A. Eachus as Majority Leader[10] and Samuel H. Smith as Minority Leader.[11] The 2006 election resulted in the Democrats regaining control of the House and the balance remaining unchanged in Republicans' favor in the Senate.


Pennsylvania is divided into 60 judicial districts,[12] most of which (except Philadelphia) have magisterial district judges (formerly called district justices and justices of the peace), who preside mainly over minor criminal offenses and small civil claims. Magesterial District Judges also preside over preliminary hearings in all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases.[12] Most criminal and civil cases originate in the Courts of Common Pleas, which also serve as appellate courts to the district judges and for local agency decisions.[12] The Superior Court hears all appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas not expressly designated to the Commonwealth Court or Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. It also has original jurisdiction to review warrants for wiretap surveillance.[12] The Commonwealth Court is limited to appeals from final orders of certain state agencies and certain designated cases from the Courts of Common Pleas.[12] The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the final appellate court. All judges in Pennsylvania are elected; the chief justice is determined by seniority.[12]

Federal relations

During the Tom Ridge administration, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania maintained a permanent in-house lobbying office in Washington, DC, to lobby the federal government of the United States.[13] During the Ed Rendell administration, the Commonwealth closed that office and entered into a $720,000 annual contract with Blank Rome to lobby the federal government.[13] The Rendell administration says that the contract with Blank Rome was $140,000 less per year than maintaining a permanent state office in Washington.[13]

Executive departments

Entities under the governor's jurisdiction include, among others:

See also


  1. ^ 23 hi bill Law Weekly 324 (March 27, 2000)
  2. ^ State Elected Officials
  3. ^ Pennsylvania State Archives
  4. ^ Pennsylvania Senators
  5. ^ Pennsylvania House of Representatives
  6. ^ Pennsylvania Senate
  7. ^ David Brightbill
  8. ^ Robert Mellow
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ William DeWeese
  12. ^ a b c d e f Judicial districts
  13. ^ a b c Bumsted, Brad; Mike Wereschagin (November 29, 2009). "Lobbyist expenses wasteful, critics say". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”