Senator Gordner Urges House to Consider Part-Time District Attorney Legislation

(HARRISBURG) – – Legislation which would allow county commissioners in Montour County and several other small counties to determine the full-time status of the county district attorney should be considered by the House of  Representatives prior to the end of session, according to  Senator John R. Gordner (R-27).  Senator Gordner inserted the language of legislation he introduced earlier this year into House Bill 1990, which must now receive a concurrence vote in the House to become law.

“I urge the House to take up this legislation to provide smaller counties with this common sense tool to control budget costs,” said Senator Gordner.  “Only one more vote is necessary for this important legislation to be sent to Governor Ed Rendell for his signature.”

The legislation would permit commissioners in eighth class counties to reclassify the services of a full-time district attorney as part-time, if the commissioners are notified by the sitting district attorney that he or she intends to retire at the end of the current term of office.  “The reclassification would occur when the current district attorney’s term expires, and there is no intent to seek re-election, because the D.A. entered office with the understanding the job would be full-time,” said Senator Gordner.  “Likewise, the incoming district attorney would seek office knowing the position was part-time.”

In 2005, the General Assembly passed legislation to allow county district attorneys to assume full-time status.  Additional court costs imposed upon defendants were targeted to meet the state’s sixty-five percent share of the full-time district attorneys’ salaries; however, the Criminal Justice Enhancement Account has failed to meet the required costs.  Last year, the General Assembly took additional steps to reimburse counties for district attorney salaries.

“Regardless of the health of the account, smaller counties should have the option to again re-visit the issue of the need for and expense of a full-time district attorney,” said Senator Gordner.  “My legislation will allow for this flexibility.”