Is It Legal to Run a Criminal Background Check on of Those Applying for a Horse Racing License ?
In Pennsylvanians Against Gambling Expansion Fund, Inc. v. Commonwealth, 583 Pa. 275, 877 A.2d 383 (2005), the petitioners challenged the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, 4 Pa. C.S. 1101 - 1904, which began as a bill introduced to provide the State Police with the power and duty to perform criminal background checks of those applying for a license from the State Harness and Horse Racing Commissions.
During its last consideration, the Senate made extensive amendments to the bill, increasing the length of the bill from 1 to 145 pages, creating the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and numerous funds and providing for the issuance of gaming licenses for slot machine casinos and the Court's exclusive jurisdiction over disputes.
The title of the bill was also amended to express the multiple changes.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court set forth a two-part test in deciding the constitutionality of the Act under Article III, Section 1:
First, the court will consider the original purpose of the legislation and compare it to the final purpose and determine whether there has been an alteration or amendment so as to change the original purpose.
Second, a court will consider, whether in its final form, the title and contents of the bill are deceptive.
Regarding the determination of the original purpose of the legislation, we recognize the realities of the legislative process which can involve significant changes to legislation in the hopes of consensus, and the "expectation" that legislation will be transformed during the enactment process.
Furthermore, our Court is loathe to substitute our judgment for that of the legislative branch under the pretense of determining whether an unconstitutional change in purpose of a piece of legislation has occurred during the course of its enactment.
For these reasons, we believe that the original purpose must be viewed in reasonably broad terms.
... Given this approach of considering a reasonably broad original purpose, the General Assembly is given full opportunity to amend and even expand a bill, and not run afoul of the constitutional prohibition on an alteration or amendment that changes its original purpose. Id.
The court concluded that the original purpose of the bill, when considered in reasonably broad terms, was to regulate gaming, that the significant amendment and expansion of the bill did not alter or amend its original objective and that its final title was not deceptive and clearly put a reasonable person on notice of the general subject matter.