Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Philadelphia County; Honorable Lawrence Pratti, Honorable Albert W. Sheppard, Jr., Honorable Abraham J. Gafni, Judges.
Sharon K. Wallis, Philadelphia, for appellants.
Richard J. Gold, Seymour Kurland, Eric M. Jacobs, Philadelphia, for appellees.
Caroline H. West, Barbara W. Mather, Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz, Philadelphia, for Pa. Convention Center Authority.
Crumlish, Jr., President Judge, and Craig, Doyle, Colins, Palladino, McGinley and Smith, JJ. Doyle, J., dissents.
[ 127 Pa. Commw. Page 472]
Linda Paustian et al. (appellants) appeal a Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court order*fn1 granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, the City of Philadelphia and the Department of Revenue (appellees). We affirm.
Appellants brought their complaint as a class action seeking a declaratory judgment that the Hotel Room Rental Tax*fn2 and its enabling legislation, the Convention Center Authority Act,*fn3 are unconstitutional.
Appellants represent two classes: Class A consists of nonresidents of Pennsylvania required to pay the tax prior
[ 127 Pa. Commw. Page 473]
to the time the Convention Center is open, and Class B is composed of persons who pay the tax by reimbursing travel expenses of Pennsylvania nonresidents during the same period. Appellants aver that pending the start-up of Convention Center operation, they will be taxed to support the planning and construction of the Center without realizing any benefit. Appellants' Complaint, para 8. They assert violations of their due process and equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Const. amend. XIV § 1, a violation of their right to interstate travel, U.S. Const. art. IV, § 2, cl. 2, and a violation of the commerce clause, U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 3.
In ruling on appellees' motion for judgment on the pleadings, the common pleas panel held that (1) the issues the appellants presented constituted purely legal questions appropriate for disposition in the context of a judgment on the pleadings; (2) the tax and Act did not violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution because the burden imposed on appellants is not palpably disproportionate to the benefits received;*fn4 (3) the tax and Act did not violate the federal Commerce Clause since Pennsylvania residents and nonresidents alike stand to benefit from the concomitant developments associated with the Convention ...