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A Chapter on Legislative Practice and Proceed.

ings in the Legislature of Pennsylvania.


Or ization of the Legislature. In the House of Representatives the mode of proceeding is as follows:

The members elected and returned meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives, at Harrisburg, the place designated by law, on the first Tuesday in January of each year, the time appointed by the Constitution. At 11 o'clock A. M. of that day, one of the oldest members, that is, one who had been a member for previous years, announces from the Speaker's stand, “that the members of the House of Representatives will meet this day at 12 o'clock M., for the purpose of organization.” When that time arrives, the Clerk rises and says: “This being the day appointed by the Constitution for the meeting of the General Assembly, and there being present a sufficient number of gentlemen elected members to constitute a quorum, the House will come to order."

As soon as this announcement is made by the Clerk, and order restored, the Secretary of the Commonwealth presents himself at the bar of the House. The Sergeant-at-Arms immediately arises and announces, “The Secretary of the Commonwealth." The Clerk then announces to the House, “The Secretary of the Commonwealth.” When this is done, the Secretary of the Commonwealth advances a few feet within the bar of the House, and says: “Mr.

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Clerk, I have the honor to present the returns of the late election of members of the House of Representatives for the several cities and counties of this Commonwealth, agreeably to the provision of the Constitution and laws relating to the elections of this Commonwealth."

As soon as the Secretary of the Commonwealth retires, some member rises in his places and moves Gothat the returns of the election be opened and read.” This motion being regularly stated by the Clerk and agreed to by the House, the Clerk proceeds first with the returns from the city of Philadelphia, and then with those of the several counties in the Commonwealth in alphabetical order.

When the returns are all read, and the names of the members returned as such announced, the Clerk then calls over the roll of members alphabetically, each member, when his name is called, signifying his presence by simply answering “pre


After the roll is called, a motion is made by some member, “that the members present do now, in conformity with the ninth section of the second article of the Constitution, proceed to the election of Speaker.” This motion being stated by the Clerk, and adopted by the House, the Clerks proceed to call over the names of the members, each member announcing distinctly, when his name is called, the person for whom he votes. When the call of the roll is gone through with, the Clerks add up the number of votes given for each person voted for, and announce the result to the House. If any one candidate receives a majority of all the votes cast, he is declared elected Speaker.

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It is usual for the Speaker elect to be conducted to the chair by two members. The oath of office is then administered by a judge learned in the law.(See Art. III, Con.) When the oath has been administered to and signed by the Speaker in a book prepared for the purpose, he directs the Clerk to call over the names of the members, who have administered to them, by a judge learned in the law, the oath of office, which they also sign. It is usual for those who swear by holding in their hands the Bible to be sworn first; then those who swear by the uplifted hand; and lastly, those who affirm.

After commencement of the session, and on the day of the final adjournment of the Legislature of each session, the Senate proceeds to the election of President pro tem.

In all other respects the organization of the Senate is the same as that of the House of Representatives. Of the General Powers and Duties of the President of the Sen

ate and Speaker of the House. There are certain duties pertaining to the office of Speaker, which are not necessary to be specified by rule, being so obviously proper and right as to be indisputable.

1. The Speaker puts all questions, and declares the determination of the body.

2. He communicates its resolutions to others, conveys its thanks, and expresses its censures, its reprịmands or its admonitions.

3. He is the representative of the body itself, in its powers, its proceedings and its dignity.

4. He announces the business before the Assembly, in the order in which it is to be acted upon.

5. To restrain the members when engaged in debate, within the rules of order.

6. To receive messages and other communications from other branches of the government, and announce them to the Assembly.

7. When a legislative body is engaged in its judicial functions, it is the duty of the presiding officer to conduct the proceedings, to put questions to parties and witnesses, and to pronounce the sentence or judgment.

8. When the Assembly is engaged in any of its high administrative functions, or in matters of State or ceremony, as, for example, when a member or other person is to be reprimanded or thanked, the presiding ofticer is the mouth-piece and organ of the body.

9. He is always a member, and may present petitions, meniorials and remonstrances sent to him. In this State he possesses the right to vote as other members, on all questions before the body, and may leave the chair and address the body on any question.

Of Letters, Petitions, etc. If a letter, petition, bill, memorial or remonstrance be sent to a member to be by him presented to the House or Senate, his first duty is to fold it up in a neat form, (about three and a-half inches by eight and a-half inches,) and endorse on the back of it, in brief, the subject on which it treats,) and immediately above this statement he signs his name and county, and endorses the date.

For example, a member has a petition for the passage of a bill, &c., he endorses it in this way: “The petition of inhabitants of praying,” &c.

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In presenting it, he rises in his place, when the name of the county which he represents is called, and says: “Mr. Speaker, I present the petition of inhabitants of

praying,” &c. He then delivers it to one of the pages, to be handed to the Speaker, who also reads the endorsement, by way of information to the House or Senate, and then refers it to the appropriate committee. The same course is pursued in regard to letters, memorials, &c. Form of Petition.

Form of Bill.

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