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Has the Time Finally Arrived for Merit Selection?

Charles J. Klitsch, Esq. on 5/16/2016

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Director of Public and Legal Services, Philadelphia Bar Association

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May marks the beginning of budget season in Harrisburg. While the governor traditionally gives a budget address in February and department heads spend March and April testifying before House and Senate committees in March and April, it is in May that legislators roll up their sleeves and begin the difficult task of trying to make the numbers work.

In February, Governor Wolf proposed a $33.3 billion spending plan that includes an 11% increase in the state's current 3.07% income tax rate and an expansion of the sales tax to include movie tickets, music downloads and other items.

Republican legislators are suggesting a state budget that will come in closer to $30.8 billion, with limited increases in specialized taxes.

So far, there has been no proposal brought forward to expand the sales tax to include legal services.

Meanwhile, HB 1339, the bill that would introduce the merit selection of statewide appellate court judges in Pennsylvania, may come up for a vote in the House of Representatives within the next few weeks. The Philadelphia Bar Association has long supported merit selection of statewide appellate court judges. Chancellor Gaetan Alfano, Chancellor-Elect Deborah Gross and Vice Chancellor Mary Platt have sent letters to all legislators in the Philadelphia area expressing the Association's strong support for merit selection.

In addition, the Association's Legislative Action Center has been activated so that our members can send their own letters to state legislators supporting this important bill.

Courtesy of Crisci Associates, here is the latest Legislative Report from Harrisburg.

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