Interpretation of Section 17 of the Home Rule Act
In City of Philadelphia v. Schweiker, 579 Pa. 591, 858 A.2d 75 (2004), the Supreme Court noted that the Home Rule Act granted the City any and all legislative powers to the same degree held by the legislature unless and until it affirmatively and expressly passed legislation to deny that power.
Section 17 of the Home Rule Act, 53 P.S. 13131, confers power in the City to exercise any and all powers relating to its municipal functions that are not inconsistent with federal or state constitutions, and an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees that all municipalities choosing to adopt a home rule charter "may exercise any power or perform any function not denied by this Constitution, by its home rule charter or by the General Assembly at any time." Article IX, Section 2.
Nutter states that Section 17 was clarified by the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law, 53 Pa. C.S. 2901 - 3171, and that Section 2962(a)(5), 53 Pa. C.S. 2962(a)(5), precludes municipalities from enacting laws that supersede state law pertaining to the registration of electors and the conduct of elections.
Section 2961, 53 Pa. C.S. 2961, provides in relevant part that all grants of power to home rule municipalities shall be liberally construed in their favor.
In Schweiker the Supreme Court acknowledged that the Home Rule Act granted Philadelphia general authority of local self-government that includes complete powers of legislation and administration in relation to its municipal functions as set forth in Section 17 of the Home Rule Act.
Section 17 of the Home Rule Act provides in part:
Subject to the limitations hereinafter prescribed, the city taking advantage of this act and framing and adopting or amending its charter thereunder shall have and may exercise all powers and authority of local self-government and shall have complete powers of legislation and administration in relation to its municipal functions, including the power and authority to prescribe the elective city officers, who shall be nominated and elected only in the manner provided by, and in accordance with, the provisions of the Pennsylvania Election Code and its amendments, for the nomination and election of municipal officers.
The charter of any city adopted or amended in accordance with this act may provide for a form or system of municipal government and for the exercise of any and all powers relating to its municipal functions, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States or of this Commonwealth, to the full extent that the General Assembly may legislate in reference thereto as to cities of the first class, and with like effect, and the city may enact ordinances, rules and regulations necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers vested in the city by the charter it adopts or by this or any other law.