The legislative power of this Commonwealth shall be vested in a General Assembly, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
Election of Members; Vacancies
Members of the General Assembly shall be chosen at the general election every second year. Their term of service shall begin on the first day of December next after their election. Whenever a vacancy shall occur in either House, the presiding officer thereof shall issue a writ of election to fill such vacancy for the remainder of the term.
Terms of Members
Senators shall be elected for the term of four years and Representatives for the term of two years.
The General Assembly shall be a continuing body during the term for which its Representatives are elected. It shall meet at twelve o'clock noon on the first Tuesday of January each year. Special sessions shall be called by the Governor on petition of a majority of the members elected to each House or may be called by the Governor whenever in his opinion the public interest requires.
Qualifications of Members
Senators shall be at least twenty-five years of age and Representatives twenty-one years of age. They shall have been citizens and inhabitants of their respective districts one year next before their election (unless absent on the public business of the United States or of this State) and shall reside in their respective districts during their terms of service.
Disqualification to Hold Other Office
No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under this Commonwealth to which a salary, fee of perquisite is attached. No member of Congress or other person holding any office (except of attorney-at law or in the national guard or in a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States) under the United States of this Commonwealth to which a salary, fee or perquisite is attached shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office.
Ineligibility by Criminal Convictions
No person hereafter convicted of embezzlement of public moneys, bribery, perjury or other infamous crime, shall be eligible to the General Assembly, or capable of holding any office of trust or profit in this Commonwealth.
The members of the General Assembly shall receive such salary and mileage for regular and special sessions as shall be fixed by law, and no other compensation whatever, whether for service upon committee or otherwise. No member of either House shall during the term for which he may have been elected, receive any increase of salary, or mileage, under any law passed during such term.
Election of Officers; Judge of Election and Qualifications of Members
The Senate shall, at the beginning and close of each regular session and at such other times as may be necessary, elect one of its members President protectorate, who shall perform the duties of the Lieutenant Governor shall be vacant. The House of Representatives shall elect one of its members as Speaker. Each House shall choose its other officers, and shall judge of the election and qualifications of its members.
A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day and compel the attendance of absent members.
Powers of Each House; Expulsion
Each House shall have power to determine the rules of its proceedings and punish its members or other persons for contempt or disorderly behavior in its presence, to enforce obedience to its process, to protect its members against violence or offers of bribes or private solicitation, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, to expel a member, but not a second time for the same cause, and shall have all other powers necessary for the Legislature of a free State. A member expelled for corruption shall not thereafter be eligible to either House, and punishment for contempt or disorderly behavior shall not bar an indictment for the same offense.
Journals; Yeas and Nays
Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings and from time to time publish the same, except such parts as require secrecy, and the yeas and nays of the members on any question shall, at the desire of any two of them, be entered on the journal.
The sessions of each House and of committees of the whole shall be open, unless when the business is such as ought to be kept secret.
Neither House shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
Privileges of Members
The members of the General Assembly shall in all cases, except treason, felony, violation of their oath of office, and breach of surety of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the sessions of their respective Houses and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House they shall not be questioned in any other place.
The Commonwealth shall be divided into fifty senatorial and two hundred three representative districts, which shall be composed of compact and contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as practicable. Each senatorial district shall elect one Senator, and each representative district one Representative. Unless absolutely necessary no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a senatorial or representative district.
Legislative Reapportionment Commission
(a) In each year following the year of the Federal decennial census, a Legislative Reapportionment Commission shall be constituted for the purpose of reapportioning the Commonwealth. The commission shall act by a majority of its entire membership.
(b) The commission shall consist of five members: four of whom shall be the majority and minority leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, or deputies appointed by each of them, and a chairman selected as hereinafter provided. No later than 60 days following the official reporting of the Federal decennial census as required by Federal law, the four members shall be certified by the President Pro Temporal of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the elections officer of the Commonwealth who under law shall have supervision over elections. The four members within 45 days after their certification shall select the fifth member, who shall serve as chairman of the commission, and shall immediately certify his name to such elections officer. The chairman shall be a citizen of the Commonwealth other than a local, State or Federal official; holding an office to which compensation is attached. If the four members fail to select the fifth member within the time prescribed, a majority of the entire membership of the Supreme Court within thirty days thereafter shall appoint the chairman as aforesaid and certify his appointment to such elections officer. Any vacancy in the commission shall be filled within fifteen days in the same manner in which such position was originally filled.
(c) No later than ninety days after either the commission has been duly certified or the population data for the Commonwealth as determined by the Federal decennial census are available, whichever is later in time, the commission shall file a preliminary reapportionment plan with such elections officer. The commission shall have thirty days after filling the preliminary plan to make corrections in the plan. Any person aggrieved by the preliminary plan shall have the same thirty-day period to file exceptions with the commission in which case the commission shall thirty days after the date the exceptions were filled to prepare and file with such elections officer a revised reapportionment plan. If no exceptions are filled within thirty days, or if filed and acted upon, the commission's plan shall be final and have the force of law.
(d) Any aggrieved person may file an appeal from the final plan directly to the Supreme Court within thirty days after the filing thereof. If the appellant establishes that the final plan is contrary to law, the Supreme Court shall issue an order remanding the plan to the commission and directing the commission to reapportion the Commonwealth in a manner not inconsistent with such order.
(e) When the Supreme Court has finally decided an appeal or when the last day for filing an appeal has passed with no appeal taken, the reapportionment plan shall have the force of law and the districts therein provided shall be used thereafter in elections to the General Assembly until the next reapportionment as required under this section 17.
(f) The General Assembly shall appropriate sufficient funds for the compensation and expenses of members and staff appointed by the commission, and other necessary expenses. The members of the commission shall be entitled to such compensation for their services as the General Assembly from time to time shall determine but no part thereof shall be paid until a preliminary plan is filed. If a preliminary plan is filed but the commission fails to file a revised or final plan within the time prescribed, the commission members shall forfeit all right to compensation not paid.
(g) If a preliminary, revised or final reapportionment plan is not filed by the commission within the time prescribed by this section, unless the time be extended by the Supreme Court for cause shown, the Supreme Court shall immediately proceed on its own motion to reapportion the Commonwealth.
(h) Any reapportionment plan filed by the commission, or ordered or prepared by the Supreme Court upon the failure of the commission to act, shall be published by the elections officer once in at least one newspaper of general circulation in each senatorial and representative district. The publication shall contain a map of the Commonwealth showing the complete reapportionment of the General Assembly by districts, and a map showing the reapportionment districts in the area normally served by the newspaper in which the publication is male. The publication shall also state the population of the senatorial and representative districts having the smallest and largest population and the percentage variation of such districts from the average population for senatorial and representative districts.