PA House passes Harrisburg takeover bill, Corbett has said he will sign it

The state House today swiftly and overwhelmingly approved a bill to authorize a state takeover of Harrisburg.

Gov. Corbett has indicated he will sign the bill, which cleared the House by a vote of 177-18, when it reaches his desk.

If the bill becomes law, it would be the first time in modern history that the state has taken over a municipality, according to Terry Madonna, pollster political analyst at Franklin & Marshall College.

The legislation (SB 1151) would allow the governor to declare a state of fiscal emergency and appoint a receiver with decision making powers when third-class cities such as Harrisburg cannot agree on a solution under a financial recovery plan.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R., Dauphin), came in response to the rejection of a financial-recovery plan by Harrisburg City Council that was presented to it under Pennsylvania's Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, often referred to as Act 47.

Once a state of emergency is declared the governor could direct the Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development to issue an emergency action plan within 10 days to ensure that vital services - such as police and fire - continue.

In 30 days, if there is no agreement between the city and the state on a financial-recovery plan, the governor could name a receiver and, with court approval, authorize a recovery plan and force the city to implement it.

At the same time, the state is working to get a bankruptcy filing by the City Council thrown out of federal court. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for Nov. 23.

At the core of Harrisburg's financial woes is a $300 million debt largely tied to the city's failed attempt to turn its troubled incinerator into an income-generating source.



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