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tion of the chief clerk and other officers, after which the senate is ready to proceed with any business which may be presented.
The president pro tempore is the only officer that is a member of the senate. The other officers chosen are a chief clerk, journal clerk, reading clerk, message clerk, executive clerk, and four transcribing clerks; also a sergeant-at-arms and two assistants, who preserve order in the senate chamber, a chaplain, and a librarian. There are also doorkeepers, messengers, pages, and other assistants.
The chief clerks, the sergeants-at-arms, and many of the other officers chosen by the houses, are by law authorized to return as such at the next regular meeting of the General Assembly. This assures continuity of organization.
The house of representatives is organized in a manner similar to that in which the senate is organized. The chief clerk calls the house to order, and the secretary of the Commonwealth presents the returns of the last election (96), and then retires. The returns are read, the roll is called, and the oath of office is administered by a judge of the supreme court or of a court of common pleas. The members then elect from their own number a presiding officer called the speaker (36). Clerks and other officers are then elected, after which the house is ready to consider any business which may be presented. The speaker is always a representative of the majority party, and appoints the committees. In this and in many other ways he is able to direct and influence legislation.
Legislation. The duty of the General Assembly is to make such laws as will promote the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth. These laws must not conflict with the Constitution of the United States, nor with that of the State, otherwise the courts will be sure to declare them unconstitu
tional, and therefore null and void. The fact that the General Assembly is composed of two separate houses gives the advantage of checking hasty legislation. The General Assembly can legislate upon a great variety of subjects, yet there is manifestly in the minds of the people a certain jealousy of the legislative branch of government. Our State constitution devotes an entire article to limiting the power of the Legislature (46–78). The passing of local or special laws is forbidden in many distinctly specified cases; nor is it possible to pass any local or special bill unless notice of the intention to apply therefor shall have been published in the locality particularly concerned at least thirty days before the introduction of the bill into the General Assembly (53). The purpose of such provision is to prevent the evils growing out of special legislation.
Every word in a written constitution is in effect a restriction of legislation; yet the limitations imposed by the State constitution and by that of the United States seem small enough when compared with the vast prerogatives of the State Legislature. It has been truly said that to enumerate the particulars of the vast range of power, and to detail its parts, would be to name all social and business relationships, and to examine the very foundations of law and order.
Contests.-When any question is raised as to the qualification or election of a member, the house in which he claims a seat decides it, and there is no appeal from such decision (36).
Quorum.-A majority of each house constitutes a quorum, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day and compel the attendance of absent members (37).
Rules: Expulsions. Each house determines its own rules of order and business, and has power to enforce obedience
to its process (38). By a two-thirds vote it may expel a member, but not a second time for the same cause.
The Journal.—Each house keeps a journal of its proceedings (39). Upon the demand of any two members, the vote on any question must be taken by yeas and nays, and be so entered upon the journal. It will be noted that on all questions the members of General Assembly vote orally (144). The reasons for secret ballot do not apply, since the members vote in a representative capacity, and the constituents of each member have a right to know how he has discharged his duty. The proceedings are published from time to time, except such parts as require secrecy. The sessions of each house and of committees of the whole are open, unless the business is such as ought to be kept secret (40). Secret sessions of either house are very rare.
Committees.-The enactment of laws is expedited by means of committees appointed at the beginning of the session, and the constitution expressly prescribes them (47). These committees are very numerous, and each has charge of some particular subject. They are called standing committees because they continue throughout the session. Special committees are appointed to deal with any subjects which cannot readily be referred to any of the standing committees. The committee system places every bill in the hands of a limited number of persons having special knowledge of the matter with which it deals. They investigate the subject, and report the result of their deliberations. Committees in the senate are appointed by the president pro tem pore, and in the house of representatives by the speaker.
Bills.-A proposed law, presented by a member in either house for consideration by the General Assembly, is called a bill. Bills may be altered, amended, or rejected by either
house, but it is provided that no bill shall be so amended as to change its original purpose. No law can be passed except by bill (46).
How the Laws are Made.—A bill may originate in either house except a bill for raising revenue, which must originate in the house of representatives (59). The bill must then be referred to a committee, returned therefrom, and printed for the use of the members (47). It must be read in full on three different days in each house, amendments being made on second reading and the same printed for the use of members before the final vote after third reading is taken (49). The vote on its final passage must be taken by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the same must be entered on the journal. If a majority of the members elected to each house be recorded in its favor, the Legislature has passed the bill (49). If a bill originating in one house is amended or changed in any respect by the other house, it must be returned to the house in which it originated, and the amendment approved by a majority of all the members, voting by yeas and nays (50).
When the bill has been passed by both houses, it is sent to the Governor (93). If he approves it, he signs it and the bill becomes a law; but if he does not approve it, he vetoes it—that is, he returns it with his objections, to the house in which it originated. The Legislature may upon reconsideration pass such bill by a two-thirds vote in both houses, and it then becomes a law without the approval of the Governor. If he does not return a bill within ten days after it has been presented to him, it becomes a law, unless the General Assembly, by adjournment, prevent its return. Under these circumstances, the Governor has thirty days in wbich to sign or veto all bills left in his hands.
When the Governor is a Third House.—The only occasion on which the Governor is a part of the legislative power of the State is when he signs or vetoes a bill. Yet in ordinary times, this power, which is not executive but legislative, is his most important and considerable function. While exercising this power, the Governor is virtually in himself a third house.
The Governor has thirty days after the General Assembly has adjourned in which to approve or disapprove (93) bills sent to him during the ten days immediately preceding the adjournment of the Legislature. During the last few days of the session a large part of the bills are passed finally, and this provision gives him time for their careful consideration.
Election of U. S. Senators.—An important duty of the General Assembly is the election of Senators representing the State in the Congress of the United States. The election is held in conformity with rules contained in a law, passed by Congress in 1866, making such elections uniform for the States. The Governor certifies to the election, under the seal of the State, and the certificate is countersigned by the secretary of the Commonwealth.
The Power of Impeachment.—The house of representatives has the sole power of impeachment (128), but all impeachments are tried by the senate (129). When sitting for that purpose, the senators are put upon oath or affirmation, and no person can be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the senators present.
Powers Reserved to Each House. It will be seen that the house of representatives has the sole power of impeachment, and of originating bills for raising revenue; while the senate has the sole power of confirming the Governor's appointments (86), and of trying the cases of impeachment (129).
Apportionment of the State.—The General Assembly has