Pennsylvania State & Local Government

Pennsylvania State Resource Center




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Pennsylvania Statewide Offices

  • Attorney General

    The State Constitution provides that the Attorney General shall be the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth and shall exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be imposed by law. The Commonwealth Attorneys Act establishes the Attorney General as the chief legal and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth.

  • Auditor General

    The Pennsylvania Auditor General is the chief fiscal officer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a state located in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. York, Pennsylvania was the first capital of the United States. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were both written in Philadelphia, and Betsy Ross made the first contemporary American flag in Philadelphia.

  • Governor

    The Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the head of the executive branch of Pennsylvania's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to approve or veto bills passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature, and to convene the legislature. The governor may grant pardons except in cases of impeachment, but only when recommended by the Board of Pardons.

  • Lt. Governor

    The Lt. Governor is a constitutional officer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Lt. Governor is elected every four years along with the Governor. The Lt. Governor presides in the Pennsylvania Senate and is first in the line of succession to the governor; in the event the governor dies, resigns, or otherwise leaves office, the Lt. Governor becomes governor.

  • Secretary of the Commonwealth

    Under the leadership of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the mission of the Department of State is to promote the integrity of the electoral process, to provide the initial infrastructure for economic development through corporate organizations and transactions, and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.

  • State Treasurer

    The Pennsylvania Treasurer is the head of the Pennsylvania Department of the Treasury, which is the custodian of virtually all the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's funds. The Pennsylvania Treasury invests taxpayers' money; maintains an unclaimed property database; makes college possible with a college savings program; reduces its citizens' energy costs with the help of the Keystone Home Energy Loan Program (HELP); and much more.

Pennsylvania Legislative Branch

  • Center for Rural Pennsylvania

    The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Center promotes and sustains the vitality of Pennsylvania's rural and small communities by: sponsoring research projects to identify policy options for legislative and executive branch consideration and action; collecting data on trends and conditions to understand the diversity of rural Pennsylvania; publishing information and research results to inform and educate audiences about the diverse people and communities of rural Pennsylvania; and participating in local, state and national forums on rural issues to present and learn from best practices.

  • General Assembly

    The Pennsylvania General Assembly is the state legislature of Pennsylvania. The General Assembly became a bicameral legislature in 1790. The General Assembly has 253 members, making it the second-largest state legislature in the nation (behind New Hampshire) and the largest full-time legislature.

  • House of Representatives

    The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is the lower house of the bicameral Pennsylvania General Assembly. There are 203 members, elected for two year terms from single member districts. Elections are held in November of even numbered years.

  • State Senate

    The Pennsylvania State Senate is the upper house of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Senators are elected for four year terms, staggered every two years such that half of the seats are contested at each election. The President of the Senate is the Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, who has no vote except in the event of an otherwise tie vote. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate becomes the Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania in the event of the sitting Lt. Governor's removal, resignation or death.

Pennsylvania Court Rules and Forms

Pennsylvania Judicial Branch

  • The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania

    The Pennsylvania court system is structured like a pyramid. At its base are the magisterial district judges and the Philadelphia Municipal and Traffic courts where cases involving small claims, minor crimes and traffic offenses are heard. One step up on the pyramid are the Common Pleas courts in 60 judicial districts around the state where trials are held in civil and criminal cases and disputes involving family and estate matters are litigated. Another step up are the intermediate appellate courts, the Superior Court, a general court of appeals with 15 judges, and the Commonwealth Court, a special court with nine judges which hears government-related matters. At the top of the pyramid is the highest court, the Supreme Court with seven justices.

Pennsylvania Executive Branch

  • Department of Aging

    The Pennsylvania Department of Aging oversees many services and benefits to older Pennsylvanians. The department works hand-in-hand with the Governor's Office and the General Assembly on legislation affording older persons a quality way of life. The department is the focal point of state coordination and planning for elderly initiatives in Pennsylvania to include long-term care programs for the frail and chronically ill. The department's mission is to enhance the quality of life of all older Pennsylvanians by empowering the diverse community, the family and the individual.

  • Department of Agriculture

    The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) encourages, protects and promotes agriculture and related industries throughout the commonwealth while providing consumer protection through inspection services that impact the health and financial security of Pennsylvania's citizens.

  • Department of Banking

    The Pennsylvania Department of Banking protects the public from financial abuse, promotes financial education, ensures the safety and soundness of depository institutions, and fosters a strong economy for all Pennsylvanians. The department makes sure that the financial institutions chartered and licensed in Pennsylvania act responsibly and comply with the law.

  • Department of Community and Economic Development

    The Financially Distressed Municipalities Act empowers the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to declare certain municipalities in Pennsylvania as financially distressed. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are subject to separate state authorities, rather than this department. DCED includes the following departments: Office of the Secretary; Executive Deputy Secretary; Administration; Business Assistance; Community Affairs & Development; International Business Development; Technology Investment; and Tourism, Film & Marketing.

  • Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

    The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), established on July 1, 1995, is the agency in the U.S. State of Pennsylvania responsible for maintaining and preserving the state's 117 state parks and 20 state forests; providing information on the state's natural resources; and working with communities to benefit local recreation and natural areas. The department was formed when then-governor Tom Ridge split the Department of Environmental Resources (DER) into the DCNR and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

  • Department of Corrections

    The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) is the Pennsylvania state agency that is responsible for the confinement, care and rehabilitation of the inmates at state correctional facilities funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.The mission of PADOC is to protect the public by confining persons committed to their custody in safe, secure facilities, and to provide opportunities for inmates to acquire the skills and values necessary to become productive law-abiding citizens; while respecting the rights of crime victims.

  • Department of Education

    The mission of the Pennsylvania Department of Education is to assist the General Assembly, the Governor, the Secretary of Education and Pennsylvania educators in providing for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of education. The Department also cooperates with independent groups concerned with public education including the State Tax Equalization Board, State Public School Building Authority, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, Pennsylvania Public School Employes Retirement Board and the Pennsylvania Public Television Network Commission.

  • Department of Environmental Protection

    The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is largely responsible for administering Pennsylvania's environmental laws and regulations. DPA works daily to reduce air pollution; make sure PA's drinking water's safe; protect the water quality in PA's rivers and streams; make sure that waste is handled properly; support community renewal and revitalization; promote advanced energy technology and help the commonwealth's citizens prevent pollution and comply with PA's environmental regulations.

  • Department of General Services

    The Department of General Services (DGS) is one of the largest operating agencies in Pennsylvania state government. DGS oversees procurement of goods and services, manages non-highway capital projects and is responsible for numerous core operations of state government, including management of the vehicle fleet, the Capitol Police force, state buildings and facilities. DGS also serves as the state’s real estate agent and insurance broker.

  • Department of Health

    The Department of Health's mission is to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent injury and disease, and to assure the safe delivery of quality health care for all Commonwealth citizens. The Department is responsible for planning and coordinating health resources throughout the Commonwealth. It licenses and regulates a variety of health facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory surgical facilities and other in-patient and out-patient facilities. In addition, the Department supports outreach, education, prevention and treatment services across a variety of program areas.

  • Department of Labor and Industry

    The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) administers benefits to unemployed individuals, oversees the administration of workers' compensation benefits to individuals with job related injuries, and provides vocational rehabilitation to individuals with disabilities. L&I prepares job seekers for the global workforce through employment and job training services for adult, youth, older workers, and dislocated workers. In addition, L&I enforces various laws and safety standards in the workplace and administers the Commonwealth's programs for community service by young Pennsylvanians.

  • Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

    Pennsylvania's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) has a dual mission: to provide quality service to the Commonwealth’s veterans and their families, and to oversee and support the members of the Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG).

  • Department of Public Welfare

    The mission of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) is to: Promote, improve and sustain the quality of family life; Break the cycle of dependency; Promote respect for employees; Protect and serve Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens; and Manage our resources effectively. DPW's program offices include: Administration; Child Development and Early Learning; Children, Youth and Families; Developmental Programs; Income Maintenance; Long Term Living; Medical Assistance Programs; and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

  • Department of Revenue

    The Department of Revenue is responsible for collecting Personal Income Tax, Sales and Use Tax, all corporate taxes, Inheritance Tax, Realty Transfer Tax, Motor Fuel Taxes and all other state taxes. In addition, the department collects the Local Sales Tax for Allegheny and Philadelphia counties, the Public Transportation Assistance Tax and funds for the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority. It also administers the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program and the Public Utility Realty Tax reimbursement, prepares the tax expenditure portion of the Governor’s Budget and licenses distributors and manufacturers of small games of chance. The Department also administers the Pennsylvania State Lottery, which generates funds for programs that benefit older Pennsylvanians.

  • Department of State

    Under the leadership of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the mission of the Department of State is to promote the integrity of the electoral process, to provide the initial infrastructure for economic development through corporate organizations and transactions, and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. The Department will encourage the highest standards of ethics and competence in the areas of election, campaign finance, notarization, professional and occupational licensure, charitable solicitation, and professional boxing and wrestling.

  • Department of Transportation

    The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) oversees transportation issues in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PennDOT supports over 40,500 miles of state roads and highways, about 25,000 bridges, as well as new roadway construction, the exception being the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. In addition, PennDOT supports aviation, rail traffic, mass transit, intrastate highway shipping traffic, motor vehicle safety & licensing, and driver licensing. PennDOT also supports the Ports of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Erie.

  • Insurance Department

    It is the responsibility of the Insurance Department to administer laws of the commonwealth as they pertain to the regulation of the insurance industry in order to protect the insurance consumer. The Department monitors the financial solvency of insurance companies; licenses insurance companies and producers/agents; reviews and approves insurance policy language and rates; coordinates the rehabilitation and liquidation of insolvent insurance companies; and administers health insurance programs for eligible adults and children.

  • Office for Information Technology

    OA-Information Technology is the executive agency responsible for leading and coordinating information technology services in the commonwealth in accordance with policy, planning, and budget directives adopted by the Enterprise Information Technology Governance Board. OA-IT is dedicated "to serving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its citizens by providing enterprise-wide technology, policy, standards, architecture, information, and solutions to enhance system interoperability, security, and cost effectiveness."

  • Office of Administration

    The Governor’s Office of Administration (OA) provides efficient, responsive business support to agencies in Pennsylvania’s executive branch of government. OA directs the commonwealth’s deployment of technology; supports commonwealth employees; analyzes business processes; manages the commonwealth's public safety radio system; oversees planning and coordination among state agencies to ensure that critical government services continue during emergencies; and negotiates and consolidates business travel policies and services.

  • Office of Consumer Advocate

    The Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) is a state agency that represents the interests of Pennsylvania utility consumers before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), federal regulatory agencies, and state and federal courts. The OCA represents consumers in cases before the PUC involving a wide range of utility issues. The OCA is involved in rulemakings, policy statements, and state and federal level cases that involve either the price consumers pay for vital utility service or the quality of service they receive.

  • Office of General Counsel

    The Office of General Counsel is the largest legal enterprise in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The representation that the Office of General Counsel provides is unlike any found in the private sector. The Office represent the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Governor, members of the Governor's Cabinet, and the executive and independent agencies that manage the business of the Commonwealth.

  • Office of Public Liaison

    The Office of the Public Liaison (OPL) serves as the primary link between the Governor’s Office and citizens, ensuring that state government is responsive to their needs. The office addresses concerns that are reported to the Governor’s Office by members of the public. OPL also provides a venue for citizens’ groups and associations to share concerns about various issues impacting Pennsylvania’s diverse communities.

  • Office of the Budget

    The Office of the Budget is responsible for preparing the Governor’s annual budget and implementing it after it is passed by the General Assembly and the Governor signs it into law. Through Comptroller Operations, the Office of the Budget oversees the commonwealth’s uniform accounting, payroll and financial reporting systems. Comptroller Operations also facilitates payments to vendors who do business with the commonwealth.

  • Office of Victim Advocate

    The Pennsylvania Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA) is dedicated to representing, protecting and advancing the individual and collective rights and interests of crime victims. he Victim Advocate has the authority and the duty to represent the rights and interest of crime victims before the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) and the PA Board of Probation and Parole (PBPP).

  • Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency

    The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) works to plan responses to, prevent loss from, communicate news about, coordinate resources for and help communities recover from natural and manmade disasters and emergencies. PEMA's mission is to coordinate state agency response, including the Office of the State Fire Commissioner and Office of Homeland Security, to support county and local governments in the areas of civil defense, disaster mitigation and preparedness, planning, and response to and recovery from man-made or natural disasters.

  • Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council

    The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) is an independent state agency responsible for addressing the problem of escalating health costs, ensuring the quality of health care, and increasing access for all citizens regardless of ability to pay.

  • Pennsylvania Lottery

    The Pennsylvania Lottery was established by the Legislature in 1971. The purpose of creating the Lottery was, and remains, to generate funds to benefit programs for the Commonwealth's older residents. The Pennsylvania Lottery remains the only lottery in the nation that exclusively targets all of its proceeds to programs for older residents.

  • Pennsylvania State Police

    The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) is the state police force of Pennsylvania, responsible for statewide law enforcement. The PSP's duties include patrolling all state and federal highways across Pennsylvania, enforcing the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, overseeing the state's automobile inspection program, enforcing the state's commercial vehicle safety regulations, and providing the full range of police protection for municipalities without full-time local police departments.

  • State Library

    The State Library of Pennsylvania is one of the largest research libraries in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Office of Commonwealth Libraries, within the Pennsylvania Department of Education, has holdings in almost every area of human concern. It provides information and materials from its collections and automated resources to state government, state institutions and the general public. It is also charged with maintaining a definitive collection of publications of all agencies of the Commonwealth and serves as a Regional Depository for United States Government Publications.

  • State Parks

    The primary purpose of Pennsylvania State Parks is to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental education. In meeting these purposes, the conservation of the natural, scenic, aesthetic, and historical values of parks should be given first consideration. Stewardship responsibilities should be carried out in a way that protects the natural outdoor experience for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

  • VisitPA.com

    VisitPA.com is the official Web site for Travel and Tourism in Pennsylvania. Find great deals on travel packages and use the multi-day roadtrips to help plan a perfect trip.

Pennsylvania Boards and Commissions

  • Board of Claims

    The Board of Claims is both a judicial and an independent administrative agency. The Board of Claims, as it is now known, was created October 5, 1978 and supersedes the former Board of Arbitration of Claims. The Board of Claims has jurisdiction to hear and determine contract claims that equal or exceed $300.00 against the Commonwealth.

  • Board of Probation and Parole

    The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Board) is committed to protecting the safety of the public, addressing the needs of crime victims, improving county adult probation and parole services and assisting in the fair administration of justice by ensuring the custody, control, and treatment of offenders under the jurisdiction of the Board.

  • Commission on Crime and Delinquency

    The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) was established to improve the criminal justice system in Pennsylvania. Working closely with the Governor's office, PCCD helps coordinate the work of state and local criminal justice agencies to increase communication, effectiveness and efficiency. PCCD provides training to deputy sheriffs and constables and technical assistance to communities and organizations to promote crime and delinquency prevention efforts.

  • Historical and Museum Commission

    The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PHMC is responsible for the collection, conservation, and interpretation of Pennsylvania's historic heritage, which is accomplished through the Pennsylvania State Archives, the State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, the Pennsylvania Trails of History, the Bureau for Historic Preservation, and the Bureau of Management Services.

  • Local Government Commission

    The Local Government Commission is one of the oldest agencies of its kind in the United States. It is a bipartisan legislative service agency affording research assistance to the General Assembly, collectively, and to individual Legislators as well. Another primary function of the Commission is to propose legislation that will enable local governments to be more effective and efficient in providing services.

  • Pennsylvania Commission for Women

    The Pennsylvania Commission for Women (PCW) serves as a strong advocate for women's rights and works to ensure that women and girls have equal opportunity and treatment in all aspects of life. PCW's mission is to identify and advance the diverse needs and interests of Pennsylvania women and girls; to inform, educate and advocate for its constituents; and to provide opportunities to empower women and girls to reach their highest potential.

  • Pennsylvania Council on the Arts

    The mission of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) is to foster the excellence, diversity, and vitality of the arts in PA and to broaden the availability and appreciation of these arts throughout the state. PCA accomplishes its mission through a combination of: Grants to the arts; Partnerships and initiatives; Technical assistance to partners and applicants; and Serving as a resource for arts-related information.

  • Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

    The mission of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities.

  • Pennsylvania Game Commission

    For more than 100 years, the Game Commission has managed the Commonwealth's wildlife resources for all Pennsylvanians. Funded primarily by hunting and furtaker license sales; State Game Lands timber, mineral and oil/gas revenues; and a federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition; the Commission is almost entirely supported by hunters and trappers, or assets that have been procured with license dollars.

  • Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

    The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) is the state's civil rights agency. PHRC's mission is to administer and enforce the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act through investigation, identification and elimination of unlawful discrimination and the promotion of equal opportunity for all persons.

  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

    The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) manages the beverage alcohol industry in Pennsylvania. PLCB is responsible for all licensing and retailing, as well as providing an educational program on the effects of alcohol.

  • Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

    The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

  • Pennsylvania Securities Commission

    The Pennsylvania Securities Commission administers and enforces rules and regulations under the Securities Act of 1972, the Takeover Disclosure Law of 1976, and subsequent amendments to those laws. The Commission's goal is to protect the public from deceptive practices in connection with offers, sales, and purchases of securities in Pennsylvania while encouraging availability of equity and debt financing to legitimate businesses and industries in or affecting the Commonwealth.

  • Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

    The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) was created in 1937 to construct, finance, operate and maintain the Pennsylvania Turnpike. PTC also operates the James E. Ross Highway, Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass, Mon/Fayette Expressway and Pittsburgh's Southern Beltway. PTC is the only transportation agency in Pennsylvania that is not part of PennDOT, though it does follow current PennDOT policies and procedures.

  • Port of Pittsburgh Commission

    It is the mission of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission to promote the commercial use and development of the inland waterway-intermodal transportation system and to integrate that system into the economic, recreational, environmental and intermodal future of the residents and industries of southwestern Pennsylvania.

  • State Civil Service Commission

    Civil Service is a merit system of employment that hires, retains and promotes people based on their qualifications and ability to perform the job. The State Civil Service Commission (SCSC) administers the Commonwealth’s merit system for 37 state agencies. Additionally, approximately 9,000 employees work for 300 local government offices that have contracted with the Commission to provide merit services. SCSC develops and administers job specific tests and creates listings of qualified candidates for agencies to use in hiring candidates into civil service covered positions.

  • State Ethics Commission

    The Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission is an independent state agency charged with the responsibility of enforcing the Ethics Act. The Ethics Act applies to public officials and public employees. Candidates and nominees for public office are also subject to certain provisions of the Ethics Act. Additional responsibilities of the Ethics Commission include the enforcement of certain provisions of the Lobbying Disclosure Law and the issuance of advisory opinions regarding the Lobbying Disclosure Law.