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Pennsylvania Bar Association Constitutional Review Commission

The Pennsylvania Bar Association Constitutional Review Commission was established by a Resolution of the PBA House of Delegates adopted on October 19th, 2009. The Commission is charged with the responsibility of examining specific issues related to the improvement of the Government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and making concrete recommendations, if needed, for alterations and/or improvements to the existing governmental structure and/or the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania including how those changes or alterations would be most effectively implemented, e.g. by Legislation, by the Amendment process, or by consideration of the delegates at any duly convened Constitutional Convention, if applicable.

The Board of Governors of the Association was charged with the responsibility of recommending members to serve on the Commission reflecting the diversity of the PBA membership and representation of Committees and Sections. The Board was also charged with proposing a timeline and operating procedures for reports by the Commission to the Board of Governors and the House of Delegates.

The Commission, consisting of thirty members and a Reporter, was appointed in December 2009. The Commission was directed by the Board of Governors to review the Pennsylvania Constitution and to make recommendations as deemed appropriate to improve the structure and operation of Government in the Commonwealth. The Commission was further advised to consider the following five specific areas:

Legislative Reapportionment,
Local Government,
Public Education,
Structure of the General Assembly, and
Taxation and the Uniformity Clause.

The Commission was authorized upon a two-thirds vote of its members to review other Articles of the Constitution other than any changes that would reduce or eliminate the protections provided by Article I of the Constitution. The Commission, at its March 2010 meeting voted unanimously to add Article V, The Judiciary, to the five areas previously identified for study and review.

Subcommittees of the Commission have been appointed to examine and to make recommendations in each of the six areas. The work of the Commission is underway but much remains to be accomplished. The Subcommittees are meeting regularly to consider the Constitution and to identify issues for further study and consideration by the Commission. A number of the Subcommittees will be conducting interviews with interested parties, including current and former Government officials and members of the academic community. Hearings, meetings and other forums to provide pubic comment are currently being scheduled.