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CONSUMER PARTY PENNSYLVANIA ET AL. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA ET AL. (04/19/84)

decided: April 19, 1984.

CONSUMER PARTY OF PENNSYLVANIA ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Original Jurisdiction in the case of Consumer Party of Pennsylvania et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al.

COUNSEL

Richard A. Ash, Lyman & Ash, for petitioners.

Gregory R. Neuhauser, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Attorney General, Chief of Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondents, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

C. Clark Hodgson, Jr., with him, William G. Scarborough, Ursula B. Rartels and Jeffrey A. Lutsky, Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, for respondents, The Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Henry Hager, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and K. Leroy Irvis, Speaker of the House.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr., Craig, MacPhail, Doyle and Barry. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Concurring Opinion by Judge Doyle. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Crumlish

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 611]

The Consumer Party of Pennsylvania and Defendants R. Budd Dwyer, State Treasurer of the

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 612]

Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Defendants, the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Henry Hager, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and K. Leroy Irvis, Speaker of the House (General Assembly) have filed various preliminary objections. At issue is the constitutionality of that part of Senate Bill 270*fn1 which provided for increases in pay and expenses for the members of the General Assembly. We grant the summary judgment motion of defendants Dwyer and the Commonwealth and deny the summary judgment motion of the Consumer Party. The preliminary objections of the General Assembly are sustained.

On September 30, 1983, Governor Thornburgh signed into law S.B. 270. The Consumer Party brought suit to have S.B. 270, as it pertained to pay and unvouchered expense increases for the General Assembly, declared unconstitutional. It also petitioned this Court to permanently enjoin the Commonwith him, Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Attorney Genwealth from paying*fn2 out any monies to the members of the General Assembly under the provisions of S.B. 270. The disputed portions of S.B. 270 read as follows

(a) Members salary, expense and mileage. -- The salary of members of the General Assembly shall be $35,000 per annum and mileage to and from their homes at the rate of 20 cents

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 613]

    per mile, circular, for each week a member was in actual attendance in session between their homes and the State Capitol and, except as provided herein, no other compensation shall be allowed whatsoever, except each member of the General Assembly shall receive an allowance for clerical assistance and other expenses incurred during his term in connection with the duties of his office in the sum of $7,500 annually; the salary to be payable in equal monthly installments the first day of the month, including the installment due December 1 of each even-numbered year except that the salaries of Senators elected at the General Election of 1982 during the remainder of their term shall be $25,000 per annum and such members shall receive in addition to the allowance for clerical assistance and other expenses, the expense allowance of $10,000 per annum.

Section 5. Additional expenses for members of the General Assembly.

(a) Members expense allowance. -- For the period commencing December 1, 1983 and ending November 30, 1984, members of the General Assembly shall receive, in addition to any allowance for clerical assistance and other expenses, an unvouchered expense allowance of $5,000 which shall be paid monthly on the first day of the month.

The Consumer Party contends that Sections 4*fn3 and 5*fn4 of the Public Official Compensation Law violate

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 614]

    sections 1,*fn5 3,*fn6 4*fn7 and 27*fn8 of article 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

We will first address the relevant preliminary objection*fn9 of the General Assembly to the instant action.

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 615]

The General Assembly argues that the Speech and Debate Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution is an absolute bar to the Consumer Party's suit against the General ...


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