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PENNSYLVANIA LEGISLATIVE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION BY HARRY STOFFER v. SENATE PENNSYLVANIA AND HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES PENNSYLVANIA (02/10/88)

decided: February 10, 1988.

PENNSYLVANIA LEGISLATIVE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION BY HARRY STOFFER, DAVID MORRIS, THOMAS COLE, STEPHEN DRACHLER, RICHARD KIRKPATRICK, TRUSTEES AD LITEM, PETITIONERS
v.
THE SENATE OF PENNSYLVANIA AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF PENNSYLVANIA, RESPONDENTS



Original Jurisdiction in the case of Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents' Association by Harry Stoffer, David Morris, Thomas Cole, Stephen Drachler, Richard Kirkpatrick, Trustees ad Litem v. The Senate of Pennsylvania and The House of Representatives of Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Samuel E. Klein, with him, Katherine Hatton and Kerry L. Adams, Kohn, Savett, Klein & Graf, P.C., for petitioners.

C. Clark Hodgson, Jr., with him, Ursula B. Bartels and Lawrence C. Norford, Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, for respondents.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Craig, MacPhail, Doyle, Barry, Colins and Palladino. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 368]

The Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents' Association filed a petition for review in this Court's original jurisdiction, 42 Pa. C. S. ยง 761(a)(1), requesting us to declare*fn1 that the passage of the 1987-88 Commonwealth

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 369]

    budget, House Bill No. 209 (H.B. 209), and the legislative, executive and judicial salary bill, House Bill No. 1288 (H.B. 1288), violated Section 12 of the Sunshine Act.*fn2 Named as respondents are the Senate of Pennsylvania and the House of Representatives. Before the Court at this time are preliminary objections filed by the Senate and House.

The Association's pleadings reveal the bewildering history of both House bills. On February 3, 1987, H.B. 209 was introduced and proposed an appropriation of $2,622,000 to operate the Office of Consumer Advocate during fiscal year 1987-88. After House approval, the Senate Appropriations Committee reduced the amount to $1.00. On the Senate floor, the appropriation to the Consumer Advocate was eliminated and was replaced by an appropriation to pay rental charges to the General State Authority. The House non-concurred in the Senate amendments on June 8, 1987. In order to attempt to resolve differences, the Senate President Pro Tempore and House Speaker appointed a conference committee*fn3 on July 2, 1987. The committee held a three-minute meeting early on July 3, 1987, and approved a conference report on H.B. 209 which now consisted of a $10.5 billion general fund budget for the 1987-88 fiscal year. The House and Senate approved the bill that morning.

Similarly, H.B. 1288 in its original version merely pertained to the Public School Employees Retirement Fund. A conference committee*fn4 was established on July

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 3702]

, 1987, which, within one minute, approved a conference report which now provided for salary increases for legislators, judges and certain executive officials. The House and Senate approved H.B. 1288 later that morning.*fn5

The Association avers that certain unnamed legislative leaders met and discussed the House bills prior to the designation of the conference committee and, as such, constituted a "de facto conference committee" whose meetings were held in violation of the ...


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