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Mr. STERIGERE, of Montgomery, said that he did not know how to
If any gentleman would explain the amendments, he would thank bim.
The fourth section says:
“ Each county shall have at least one representative, but no county hereaster erected, shall be entitled to separate representation, unul a sufficient number of taxable inhabitants shall be contained within it, lo enti le them to one representative, agreeably to the ratio which shall then be established.”
And, the fifth section says:
“Not more than three counties shall be entitled to unite to form a representative district; no two counties shall be united, unless one of them shall contain less than one half of the average representative ratio of taxa. ble population ; and no three counties shall be so united, unless two of them combined shall contain less than one half of the representative ratio aforesaid."
Then came the amendment, “and if any county, &c." He really could not understand them—they appeared to be so contradictory in theinselves, as well as with each other, that he found it utterly impossible to reconcile them. The only way was to strike out the fifih section alto. gether, and then the maller would be rendered intelligible and correct. Although we were told that there should not be a representation according to territory, yet we found that the constitution of 1790 requires that there should be a representation even of territory.
Almost every county has a distinct interest of its own. The voice of counties that have not each a member, would be drowned, and their interests entirely disregarded. It seemed to him that great injustice would be done them. He was in favor of giving to each county now organized, one member in the house of representatives.
The amendment as it now stood was, in his opinion, a perfect contradiction. He thought it would be better to negative the section.
Mr. FULLER, of Fayette, said he would vote for the amendments, but with the express understanding that the convention would resolve itself into a commiitee of the whole on the fourth section, 10 strike out the words “ each county shall have at least one representative,” &c. He was not disposed to give the counties with a sparse population a separate representation. He thought the people, and not territory, should be represented.
Mr. Chambers, of Franklin, said he regretted that more attention had not been paid by the convention to the amendment. It was obvious that the amendment adopted on second reading, was adopied without due consideration or reflection. That had been clearly shown by the committee of revision, and by the amendments which had since been proposed. The amendment now pending to regulate the representation of the commonwealth hereafter, was one of the highest importance.
He felt disposed, at first, to support the motion of the delegate from Luzerne, (Mr. Woodward) to strike out the fifth section, it being the one which has brought about the incongruity. And he was inclined to vote in favor of the second proposition to strike out certain lines. He thought that the amendment proposed by the delegate from Luzerne, rendered the
section even more objectionable than at first. If he (Mr. C.) understood the operation of the amendment-it was that every county possessing a ratio of three thousand and upwards, was to be entitled to a represen. tative.
Now, he would ask if there was any good reason why two counties, one having one thousand six hundred and the other one ihousand seven hundred taxables, if united, should be entitled to a representative? He thought not. What good reason could be assigned for uniting counties in this manner?
He would vote against the amendment of the delegate from Luzerne, and would leave it to the convention to say whether they thought it necessary to amend the fourth section. In his opinion, however, it was quite unnecessary. If it should be thought advisable to strike out the latter part of the fourth section, on the ground that it was calculated to remove all doubt, he would prefer voting for the motion, to introducing a section which would involve the legislature in difficulties, and would be doing injustice to many parts of the commonwealth.
Mr. FLEMING, of Lycoming, rose and said :—Mr. President, I am in favor of the explanatory amendment proposed by the gentleman from Luzerne, (Mr. Woodward) but I will first notice the provision for representation contained in the fourth section of the first article of the constilu. tion of 1790. It is said the words in that section, to wit: "each county shall have at least one representative," will have the same effect upon the amended constitution without being re-enacted by this convention, and unless this provision is stricken out, it will give each county now erected, at least one representative. I do not so understand nor construe this provision; it has reference to the counties erected in 1790 and not in 1838; and I am borne out in this construction by the language of the fourth section, immediately following, to wit: "bat no county hereafter erected, shall be entitled to a separate representation until a sufficient number of taxable inhabitants shall be contained within it, to entitle them to one representative, agreeably to the ratio which shall then be established.” I therefore understand the word “hereafter” to refer expressly to the counties to be erected in '90 and not in '38, &c. This is ceriainly the proper, legal construction of the provision in the fourth section; and inasmuch as it can have no binding effect hereafter, it having subserved all the purposes intended, it must be nngatory and void hereafter, and I ain therefore anxious to have the provision stricken out of the fourth section, in order to show some degree of consistency in our proceedings---but I would much prefer that the convention would re-enact the fourth section, and thereby act equitably toward the sparsely populated counties.
Now, sir, I ask the attention of the convention to the construction I put upon the fifth section, now under consideration and agreed to in committee of the whole.
This section was certainly agreed to in committee of the whole, upon very slight consideration, and without some such explanatory clause, it will effectually disfranchise several counties in this commonwealth.
The first provision is, that “not more than three counties shall be united to form a representative district,” thus far it is not ambigous but readily understood. The remaining provisions are calculated to operate
ceedingly hard upon the small counties. The first of the two following provisions is in these words, to wit: "no two counties shall be so united, unless one of them shall contain less than one half of the average representative ratio of taxable population."
Now, sir, the effect of this provision may be to deprive a county which contains one half the ratio of taxables necessary to entitle it to a representative of any representation, whatever; for, if a district which may, by ils number of taxables, be entitled to one or more representatives, shall have a larger fraction than a county having but one half the ratio, the larger fraction under this amendment, would be entitled to a representation for the fraction, and you would thus leave the counties containing one half the ratio without representation.
The last provision in the filth section is in these words, to wit: "and no three counties shall be so united, unless two of them combined, shall contain less than one half of the representative ratio aloresaid."
Now, sir, the same argument which I have applied to the second clause of this section is applicable to this. If two contiguous counties contain one-half the ratio of representation, they shall noi be connected with a third county, and, there being no provision to the contrary, is a district entitled to one or more representatives, shall have a fraction larger than such two counties, the largest fraction would be entitled to the representa: tion, and the two counties containing the one-half of the ratio of representation would be thrown without the pale of the law, the citizens disfran. chised and left totally unrepresented.
I cannot believe, sir, that it is the wish of this convention to do such manifest injustice to the small counties. I pray you, let them be repre. sented upon some terms. We have heretofore asked a representative for each county, and have been denied; we have asked that the number of representatives be increased to one hundred and four, which has been refused; we have asked for a representation compounded of taxables and territory, with the same object in view, which met the like fate.
These several propositions have each been advocated, but we have failed to make the much desired impression upon this body. And now, sir
, an attempt is made to deprive them of the right of representation they now enjoy.
I will vote for the amendment of the gentleman from Luzerne, (Mr. Woodward) because it embraces the same principle which is contained in the fourth section of this article, and will give each county, containing one-half the ratio of representation, a representative. And I now speak of the effeci of the amendmeat, that we may not act unadvisedly upon
it. If it is the wish of the convention to give a county, or counties, containing one-half of the ratio of representation, a member, in preference to a county which is entitled to one or more representatives, by reason of the number of taxables, and having a fraction larger than the small county or counties containing one-half the ratio-then I ask that it may be so stated and explained, that there may be no doubt about the construction of the seciion hereafter. The amendinent proposed to the fifth section, will remove the danger of misconstruction. It is in these words, to wit: "and if
any county, containing less than the number of taxables necessary to entitle it to a separate representative, but more than one-half of such
namber, cannot be united with another county, to form a district, it shall be entitled to a separate representative."
Mr. KONIGMACHER said, the more we examine the present constitution, the more iis merits become apparent, and the wisdom or propriety of our amendments become questionable.
The present constitution has been in operation for near hialf a century, It is a singular fact, that during all that time, no part of it was ever put in question as being ambiguous; every sentence is clear and comprehensive; but we are now actually unable to understand the amendments, which, after long discussions, have been agreed to, and adopted. He thought it probable the best way, after all, would be to strike out all your incongru. ous amendments, and let well enough alone.
Have we not stricken out many of the amendments we had adopted in committee of the whole and on second reading, and altered many more, so much so, that if we were to continue as long again in session, we would have hardly any of them remain. I have my doubts wether they will stand the test until the election, when the people are to vote on them, that they will probably discover that they will not be as secure in their rights. and property under the amended constitution as under the old one, which has been well tried.
Mr. Porter, of Northampton, said it was his desire that the constitusion should be as free from ambiguity as it was possible to make it. The fourth section provides that
" Each county shall have at least one representative, but no county hereafter erected shall be entitled to a separate representation until a sufficient number of taxable inhabitants shall be contained within it, to entitle them to one representative, agreeably to the ratio which shall then be established.”
Many gentleinen thought this part of the section liable to a difference of construction. Then, why, he would ask, should this convention not render it more clear and unambiguous. It dissranchises all the counties which have more than a moiely, unless they can be connected to others which have less than a half. Now the county of Cambria has one thousand nine hundred and twelve taxables ; Juniala, two thousand one hundred and two; Mifflin, two thousand four hundred and eleven ; Monroe, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-five ; Perry, iwo thousand nine hundred and foriy-two; Tioga, two ihousand five hundred and fifty four; Venango, three thousand and fourteen; Warren, one thousand six hundred and twenty-six; and Wayne, two thousand one hundred and twenty.
These counties, then, have lille more than half a ratio allowed to a representative. The ratio is three thousand and ninety-four. The constitution of 1790 says that no couniy shall have a separate representation, unless they have the ratio required by law. Now, by the new section proposed by the gentleman from the county of Philadelphia, (Mr. Earle) is no two counties shall be so united unless one of them shall contain less than one half of the representative ratio,” &c.
The county of Pike has less than half a ratio, having six hundred and thirty one taxables. It is at present attached to the county of Monroe adding Wayne and Pike together, the taxables between them amount to three thousand and twenty-four, which is little short of a ratio. Where
is Monroe? She cannot be connected to Northampton, because she has a litle more than half a ratio. Northampton has seven thousand six hun. dred and nine taxables, enough to entitle her to two representatives. But what is to become of Monroe? Why, according to the constitution of 1790 she cannot have a separate representation, nor can she be attached to the county of Northampton. It was quite cerlain that counties similarly situated to Monroe, and having less than half a ratio, were to be represented. The amendment of the delegate from Luzerne would obviate this. But the impression on his mind was, that it would better to strike out all in the fourth section, which says that each county shall have one representative, and that no county shall have a separate representation, unless it has the number of taxables required by law. And, he would also strike out all of the fifth section alier these words :
“ Not more than three counties shall be entitled to unite to form a representative district."
The county of Northampton was entitled to inore than two representalives, and Monroe not to one. The only counties which have less than half a ratio, are Clearfield, Jefferson, M'Kean, Pike and Potter. Clearfield, which would be added to Centre, according to the present representation, would be entitled to two representatives ; and the counties of Jesferson and M'Kean would be added to the county of Warren, being contiguous. This new arrangement would not effect them. Potter could be added to Tioga. The prejudicial effect would be in excluding those that have less than half a ratio. He would not consent to give a county having only four hundred and ninety two taxables a separate representation. Clearfield would shorily have more than half a ratio. He, for one, would not be willing that such a county should have as much influence in the house of representatives as the county from which he came. As he had already said, he thought the matter would be more simplified if the last clause of the fourth section were to be omiled, and all after the two first lines of section the filth.
Mr.-BANKS, of Mihin said, I believe that the gentleman from Luzerne, (Mr. Woodward) and myself have both the same object in view, and it seems to me that the committee are desirous of perfecting this section if it is in their power to do so, so as to make it tally with the provision in the fourth section as they desire to have that section amended. I would suggest to the gentleman from Luzerne, the propriety of withdrawing his amendinent or of so modifying it as to reac! ihat a county having a fraction over one half the ratio shall be enuiled to a representative--and then to place the amendment in the fore part of the section instead of appending it to the end.
This will express, without fear of misconstruction, the desire of genilemen to give the small counties which contain not less, but more than half the ratio of representation, a separate representation unless they can be so connected with other counties contiguous to them as to give them a representation, according to the ratio of taxables in the district. It seems necessary to provide in some way for large fractions above the hall of what she ratio fixed by the legislature may be. Now, in justice to the small counties of the siate, is it not right that there should be soine constitutional provision so that the counties possessing more than one half the ratio of representation should, in the first place, have a representative