Government of Pennsylvania

The Government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the governmental structure of the state of Pennsylvania as established by the Pennsylvania Constitution. It is composed of three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. The capital of the Commonwealth is Harrisburg.

Executive branch

The elected officers are:

Bruce Castor (R)
Acting Attorney General 

In Pennsylvania all members of the executive branch are not on the ballot in the same year: elections for governor and lieutenant governor are held in even years when there is not a presidential election, while the other three statewide offices are elected in presidential election years.


The Governor's Cabinet comprises the directors of various state agencies:[1]

The Health and Welfare Building within the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex

The Pennsylvania Bulletin is the weekly gazette containing proposed, enacted and emergency rules and other notices and important documents, which are codified in the Pennsylvania Code.[2][3]


The Pennsylvania General Assembly is the bicameral state legislature composed of 253 members: the House of Representatives with 203 members,[4] and the Senate with 50 members.[5] The Speaker of the House of Representatives or their designated speaker pro tempore holds sessions of the House. The President of the Senate is the Lieutenant Governor, who has no vote except in the event of tie in the Senate, where the vote is 25-25. The legislature meets in the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg. Its session laws are published in the official Laws of Pennsylvania,[6] which are codified in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.[7][8]

Judicial branch

The Pennsylvania Judicial Center within the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex

Pennsylvania is divided into 60 judicial districts,[9] most of which (except Philadelphia) have magisterial district judges (formerly called district justices and justices of the peace), who preside mainly over minor criminal offenses and small civil claims. Magisterial District Judges also preside over preliminary hearings in all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases.[9] Most criminal and civil cases originate in the Courts of Common Pleas, which also serve as appellate courts to the district judges and for local agency decisions.[9] The Superior Court hears all appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas not expressly designated to the Commonwealth Court or Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. It also has original jurisdiction to review warrants for wiretap surveillance.[9] The Commonwealth Court is limited to appeals from final orders of certain state agencies and certain designated cases from the Courts of Common Pleas.[9] The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the final appellate court. All judges in Pennsylvania are elected; the chief justice is determined by seniority.[9]

Local government

Local government in Pennsylvania consists of five types of local governments: county, township, borough, city, and school district.[10] All of Pennsylvania is included in one of the state's 67 counties and each county is then divided into one of the state's 2,562 municipalities. There are no independent cities or unincorporated territory within Pennsylvania. Local municipalities are either governed by statutes enacted by the Pennsylvania Legislature and administered through the Pennsylvania Code, by a home rule charter or optional form of government adopted by the municipality with consent of the Legislature.[11] Municipalities may enact and enforce local ordinances.[12]

See also


  1. "Cabinet and Executive Staff". Governor of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  2. "Reader's Guide to the Pennsylvania Bulletin and Pennsylvania Code" (PDF). Pennsylvania Bulletin. Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau. 31 (7): 919. 17 February 2001.
  3. "About the Pennsylvania Code". Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  4. "Members of the House". Pennsylvania General Assembly. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  5. "Members of the Senate". Pennsylvania General Assembly. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  6. "Pennsylvania Session Laws > Introduction to Pamphlet Laws". Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  7. Prince, Mary Miles. Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Citations (6th ed.). Wm. S. Hein Publishing. p. 343. ISBN 1-57588-669-3. LCCN 2001024375.
  8. "Pennsylvania Session Laws > FAQ". Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Judicial districts Archived August 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Constitution. Article III Section 20.
  11. The Pennsylvania Manual, Page 6-3.
  12. Solicitor's Handbook (3rd ed.). Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. April 2003. pp. 1–4, 15–18.
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