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Government of Pennsylvania

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The Pennsylvania Constitution[1] is the foundation of the Government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Constitution of the state ensures basic rights to the citizens and outlines the structure of the government. The Constitution provides the rules by which the representatives are elected and how they conduct the business of the state. The Pennsylvania Constitution provides for three branches of government- legislative, executive and judicial. This three-way separation of government is intended to keep each branch independent of the others and protect against power concentration within one branch.

Pennsylvania Executive Branch

The Executive Department of Pennsylvania consists of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Auditor General, State Treasurer and Superintendent of Public Instruction and many other officers prescribed by the General Assembly.

Pennsylvania Capitol
Image source: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/
The Governor of Pennsylvania is the supreme executive power who takes care that the laws are executed faithfully. The Governor is the commander-in-chief of the military forces of the Commonwealth. A person qualified to be the Governor must be a citizen of the United States and have attained the age of 30 years.

Contact Details:
Room 225
Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717/787-2500
Fax: 717/772-8284

Office of the Pennsylvania Governor

The Lieutenant Governor is chosen jointly with the Governor by the casting of a single vote by each voter applicable to both offices, subject to the same provisions as the Governor and for the same term. The Lieutenant Governor also performs the duties as the Senate President. A person qualified to be the Lieutenant Governor must be a citizen of the United States and have attained the age of 30 years.

Pennsylvania Legislative Branch

The second article of the Constitution gives "legislative power of the Commonwealth" to the General Assembly[2], which includes both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Members of the General Assembly are chosen at the general election every second year. Their term of service begin on the first day of December next after their election.

Pennsylvania House of representative
Image source: http://www.house.state.pa.us/

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is the lower house of the Pennsylvania Legislature. The members of House of Representatives are elected for the term of two years. Representatives should be 21 years of age and must complete four years as citizens of the Stated and also must inhabit their respective districts one year next prior to their election. The House[3] shall have the right to specify the rules of its proceedings and take necessary actions over its members or other persons for contempt or misconduct. The House of Representatives elects one of its members as Speaker.

The Speaker of the House is the political and parliamentary leader of the House. The Speaker is the presiding officer of the House, he also acts as the party leader and administrative head of the institution. The Speaker shall preside over the sessions of the House and preserve order and decorum in the House.

Contact Details:
Hon. Mike Turzai
125 Hillvue Lane, 1st Floor
McCandless, PA 15237
(412) 369-2230
Fax: (412) 369-2236

Pennsylvania Senate
Image source: http://www.pasen.gov/
The Pennsylvania Senate is the lower house of Pennsylvania General Assembly. Senators are elected for the term of four years. Qualified persons to be Senators must be at least of the age of 25 years. The other qualifications include that they shall have been citizens and inhabitants of the State four years and inhabitants of their respective districts one year next before their election. The Pennsylvania Senate[4] is presided over by the president. It is the President's duty to preserve order and decorum. He signs resolutions, writs, orders, warrants and subpoenas issued by order of the Senate.

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Pennsylvania Judicial Branch

The Constitution establishes a unified judicial system[5] consisting of the Supreme Court, the Commonwealth Court, the Superior Court, courts of common pleas, municipal and traffic courts, community courts in the City of Philadelphia and other such courts as may be provided by law and justices of the peace. The Pennsylvania judiciary hears two types of cases: criminal and civil. Both criminal and civil cases may be tried before a judge or a jury and a judge. No juries are available in the Supreme Court and Superior Court. They are rarely used in Commonwealth Court also. Both sides can agree to have the case tried before a judge even when a jury is permitted also.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Image source: http://www.pacourts.us/
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the highest court in the Commonwealth and the oldest appellate court in the nation. The Pennsylvania court system is structured like a pyramid with the Supreme Court at the top.

The Superior Court, established in 1895, is one of two statewide intermediate appellate courts.

The Commonwealth Court was established in 1968 and is one of two statewide intermediate appellate courts.

The Courts of Common Pleas are categorized into 60 judicial districts and are Pennsylvania's trial courts. In these courts major criminal and civil cases are heard.

The Minor Courts are the people's courts in Pennsylvania. These courts are the first level of Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System and are led by magisterial district and municipal court judges.

Taxes in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Department of Revenue
Image source: www.revenue.pa.gov/
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue looks after the fair, efficient and accurate administration of tax laws and other revenue programs of the commonwealth to fund necessary government services. The current tax rates[6] in Pennsylvania include:
  • Personal Income Tax: 3.07 percent
  • PA Sales, Use and Hotel Occupancy Tax rate: 6 percent
  • Local Sales Tax rate: 1 percent for Allegheny County, 2 percent for Philadelphia
  • Vehicle Rental Tax rate: 2 percent
  • Liquor Tax rate: 18 percent
  • Corporate Net Income Tax: 9.99 percent
  • Corporate Net Income Tax: 9.99 percent
  • Realty Transfer Tax rate: 1 percent of the value of real estate (including contracted-for improvements to property) transferred by deed, instrument, long-term lease or other writing.

Executive Agencies of Pennsylvania

There are many state agencies operating to manage and administer various departments of the state. The main state agencies of Pennsylvania are:

Pennsylvania Insurance Department

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department is responsible to administer and maintain the laws of the commonwealth as they abide to the rules of the insurance industry in order to protect the insurance consumer. Among the many duties of the department are to monitor the financial solvency of insurance companies, review and approve insurance policy language and rates, license insurance companies and agents and administer health insurance programs for eligible children.

Contact Details:
1326 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg , PA 17120 USA
Phone: 717-783-0442
Fax: 717-772-1969
Website: www.insurance.pa.gov/

Pennsylvania Department of Revenue

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue works to fairly, accurately and efficiently administer the tax laws and other revenue programs of the commonwealth to fund necessary services of the government.

Contact Details:
Strawberry Square
Harrisburg , PA 17128 USA
Personal Income Tax : 717-787-8201
Business Taxes : 717-787-1064
Property Tax/Rent Rebate : 888-222-9190
Website: www.revenue.pa.gov/

Pennsylvania Department of Health

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is responsible to prevent injury and disease, promote healthy lifestyles and to assure the safe delivery of quality health care of the people. The department monitors the health status of the population, identifies and eliminates preventable illness and accidents and improves health care quality.

Contact Details:
Health and Welfare Building
625 Forster Street
Harrisburg , PA 17120 USA
Phone: 1-877-724-3258
Fax: 717-787-0191
Website: www.health.state.pa.us/

Pennsylvania Department of Education

The Pennsylvania Department of Education academically prepares children and adults to succeed as productive citizens.
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Image source: http://www.education.state.pa.us/

The department ensures that students get technical support, opportunities and resources to receive high quality education.

Contact Details:
333 Market St
Harrisburg , PA 17126 USA
Phone: 717-783-6788
Fax: 717-787-7222
Website: www.education.state.pa.us/

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is responsible for encouraging, protecting and promoting agriculture and related sectors across the commonwealth. The department provides consumer protection through inspection services that impact people's health and financial security.

Contact Details:
2301 North Cameron Street
Harrisburg , PA 17110 USA
Phone: 717-787-4737
Website: www.agriculture.state.pa.us/

Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

The Pennsylvania's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs works to provide quality service to the Commonwealth’s veterans and their families and to oversee and support the members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Contact Details:
Bldg. S-0-47
Ft. Indiantown Gap
Annville , PA 17003 USA
Phone: 717-861-8572
Website: www.dmva.state.pa.us/

Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry maintains benefits to unemployed individuals, attends and manages the administration of workers' compensation benefits to individuals with job related injuries and provides vocational rehabilitation to individuals with disabilities.

Contact Details:
Labor and Industry Building
651 Boas St
Harrisburg , PA 17101 USA
Phone: 717-787-1733
Website: www.dli.state.pa.us/

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
Image source: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation looks after transportation issues in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Contact Details:
400 North Street
Harrisburg , PA 17120 USA
Phone: 717-787-2838
Website: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services endeavors to see the Pennsylvanians living safe, healthy and independent lives. The department works to improve the quality of life for Pennsylvania’s individuals and families. The department's services and support render great opportunities for independence and also it demonstrates accountability for taxpayer resources.

Contact Details:
Health and Welfare Building
625 Forester Street
Harrisburg , PA 17120 USA
Phone: 1-800-692-7462
Fax: 717-772-2062
Website: http://www.dhs.state.pa.us/

  1. Pennsylvania Constitution
  2. Pennsylvania General Assembly
  3. Pennsylvania House of Representatives
  4. Pennsylvania Senate
  5. Courts in Pennsylvania
  6. Taxes in Pennsylvania
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