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COMMONWEALTH v. FIREMAN'S FUND INSURANCE COMPANY (03/24/52)

March 24, 1952

COMMONWEALTH
v.
FIREMAN'S FUND INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 19, May T., 1952, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, 1947, Commonwealth Docket, No. 252, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

George H. Hafer, with him William H. Wood, Hull, Leiby & Metzger and Warner, Stackpole, Stetson & Bradlee, for appellant.

David Fuss, Deputy Attorney General, with him Robert E. Woodside, Attorney General, for appellee.

Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Bell, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.

Author: Drew

[ 369 Pa. Page 562]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE DREW

These appeals by the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company arise out of a resettlement by the Commonwealth of certain charges against appellant in the amount of $2009.77 for 1944 and 1783.15 for 1945 and present the question of the constitutionality and application of Section 212 of the Act of May 17, 1921, P.L. 789, as amended. The Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County sustained the resettlement and entered judgment for the Commonwealth.

Appellant is a California Corporation doing fire insurance business in Pennsylvania. Accordingly, under the Act of June 1, 1889, P.L. 420, § 24, as amended, an annual tax is assessed against it at the rate of 2% of the gross premiums received from Pennsylvania business. The amount thus determined has been paid without protest and is not questioned here. The California gross premiums tax on foreign insurance companies is 2.5% and as a result of that an additional charge of.5% was levied against appellant under the terms of Section 212 of the Act of 1921, supra, as amended by the Act of May 24, 1933, P.L. 988, which provides: "If, by the laws of any other state, any taxes, fines, penalties, licenses, fees, or other obligations or prohibitions, additional to or in excess of those imposed by the laws of this Commonwealth upon... insurance companies... are imposed on... insurance companies... of this Commonwealth doing business in such state, like obligations and prohibitions shall be imposed upon all... insurance companies... of such state doing business in this Commonwealth, so long as such laws remain in force." The charge made under that section

[ 369 Pa. Page 563]

    was later resettled by deducting from it the amount of license fees paid by appellant during the year. It is the balance remaining due after the resettlement that is here questioned.

The title of the Act of 1921, supra, states that it is "AN ACT Relating to insurance; establishing an insurance department; and amending, revising, and consolidating the law relating to the licensing, qualification, regulation, examination, suspension, and dissolution of insurance companies..." It is appellant's position that since reference is not made in the title to a retaliatory charge, Section 212, which imposes it, violates Article III, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Article III, § 3 of the Constitution states: "No bill... shall be passed containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title." The purpose of that section is to eliminate the so-called "omnibus bills" and it is intended to operate to exclude from an act that which is secret and unrelated: Commonwealth v. Stofchek, 322 Pa. 513, 517, 185 A. 840; Dailey v. Potter County, 203 Pa. 593, 597, 53 A. 498.The inclusion of substantive matter entirely disconnected with the subject contained in the title renders it unconstitutional: Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Bridge, 308 Pa. 487, 490, 162 A. 309; Com. ex rel. Schnader v. Liveright, 308 Pa. 35, 82, 161 A. 697. On the other hand, things incidental to the real subject of the act need not be recited in the title: Sloan v. Longcope, 288 Pa. 196, 202, 135 A. 717; Reeves v. Phila. Sub. Water Co., 287 Pa. 376, 386, 135 A. 362. Thus the title need not be an index of everything ...


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