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Pennsylvania General Assembly
Coat of arms or logo.
Type Bicameral
Houses Senate
House of Representatives
President of the Senate Joseph B. Scarnati, (R)
since December 3, 2008
Speaker of the House Keith McCall, (D)
since January 6, 2009
Members 253
Political groups Democratic Party
Republican Party
Last election November 4, 2008
Meeting place
Pennsylvania State Capitol Front Panorama.jpg
Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg

The Pennsylvania General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The legislature convenes in the State Capitol building in Harrisburg. From 1682 to 1776, the legislature was known as the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly. Following the Constitution of 1776, written by American revolutionaries, the legislature has been known as the General Assembly. The General Assembly became a bicameral legislature in 1790.


The General Assembly has 253 members, making it the second-largest state legislature in the nation (behind New Hampshire) and the largest full-time legislature. As of 2005, the members' base pay was the 2nd highest in the nation, making it the costliest state legislature per capita in the U.S. [1]It consists of a Senate with 50 members and a House of Representatives with 203 members. Republicans hold a 30-20 majority in the Senate[1]. The Democrats currently hold a 104-99 [1] majority in the House.

The Pennsylvania general elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every even-numbered year. A vacancy for a seat must be filled by special election. The presiding officer of the respective house sets the date for such elections.

Senators must be at least 25 years old and Representatives at least 21 years old. They must also be citizens and inhabitants of the state for a minimum of four years, living in their respective districts for at least one year. Individuals who have been convicted of various felonies, including embezzlement, bribery, and perjury, are ineligible for election. The Pennsylvania Constitution also adds the category of "other infamous crimes" which can be broadly interpreted by state courts. No one who has been previously expelled from the General Assembly may be elected in the future.[2]

Legislative districts are drawn every 10 years following the U.S. Census. Districts are drawn by a five-member commission, of which four members are the majority and minority leaders of both houses (or their delegates). The fifth member (and chairperson of the committee) is appointed by the other four and may not be an elected or appointed official. If the leadership cannot decide upon a fifth member, the State Supreme Court may appoint the chairperson.

While in office, legislators cannot hold civil office. Even if a member resigns, the Constitution states that the individual may not be appointed to civil office for the duration of the original term for which they were originally elected.

Legislative Sessions

The Capitol Complex

The General Assembly meets at noon on the first Tuesday of January and then regularly throughout the year. Both houses adjourn on November 30 in even numbered years when the terms of all members of the House and half the members of the Senate expire. Neither body can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other.

The Governor of Pennsylvania may call a special session in order to press for legislation on important issues. Most recently, a special session was called for the purpose of property tax reform.

The Assembly meets in the Pennsylvania State Capitol which was completed in 1906. Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Assembly must meet in the City of Harrisburg and can only move if given the consent of both chambers.

General assembly leadership

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Speaker of the House of Representatives: Keith McCall (D) [1]

Majority Party (D) Leadership Position Minority Party (R)
Todd A. Eachus Floor Leader Samuel H. Smith
Bill DeWeese Whip Mike Turzai
Mark Cohen Caucus Chairperson Sandra Major
Jennifer Mann Caucus Secretary Jerry Stern
Dwight Evans Appropriations Committee Chairman Mario Civera, Jr.
Mike Sturla Policy Committee Chairman Stan Saylor
Ron Buxton Caucus Administrator Merle Phillips
Pennsylvania House chamber
Pennsylvania Senate chamber

Pennsylvania State Senate

President Pro Tempore: Joseph B. Scarnati III (R)

Majority Party (R) Leadership Position Minority Party (D)
Dominic F. Pileggi Floor Leader Robert J. Mellow
Jane Clare Orie Whip Michael A. O'Pake
Michael L. Waugh Caucus Chairman Vincent Hughes
Robert D. Robbins Caucus Secretary Sean Logan
Jake Corman Appropriations Committee Chairman Jay Costa
John Pippy Policy Committee Chairman Richard A. Kasunic
Pat Browne Caucus Administrator Christine Tartaglione

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Post General Election Legislative breakdown". The Council of State Governments. 
  2. ^ "CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA: Article II - The Legislature". Pennsylvania Constitution Web Page of the Duquesne University School of Law. Duquesne University School of Law. 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 

External links

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