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Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Applies To Resubmit Act 13 Case to Supreme Court

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) filed two applications this week with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in cases related to Act 13.  In the appeal related to the constitutionality of Act 13 the PUC filed an Application to Resubmit Case, which requests that the case be resubmitted, at minimum, on briefs to the full Supreme Court and, if the court chooses, that additional oral argument be held.  The PUC stated that the Application is appropriate because the pending issues are of broad concern to the Commonwealth and its municipalities and because Section 3304 of Act 13 was declared unconstitutional by a fiercely divided Commonwealth Court.  Justice Correale Stevens was recently sworn in to replace Justice Joan Orie Melvin, who resigned from the Supreme Court in May following criminal convictions.  While Justice Stevens brings the Supreme Court up to seven members, the Supreme Court issued a statement that Justice Stevens would not participate in deciding any case on which he had not heard oral argument.  This Application is clearly an attempt for the PUC to get the case before the full Supreme Court.

Also of note is an Application for Reconsideration filed by the PUC in an appeal related to an order of the Commonwealth Court enjoining the PUC from reviewing municipal ordinances.  On October 25, 2012, Senior Judge Keith B. Quigley issued an order enjoining enforcement of Section 3305 of Act 13 because it “is a vehicle by which Section 3304 is enforced.”  The PUC appealed that order to the Supreme Court.  On July 25, 2013, the Supreme Court quashed the PUC’s Notice of Appeal.  The PUC requests that the Supreme Court grant reconsideration of the July 25th order quashing the Notice of Appeal before the entire Supreme Court for the following reasons:  the October 25, 2012 order of Judge Quigley was subject to appeal, and it was incorrect to quash the Notice of Appeal; if the Commonwealth Court’s decision is upheld, it is unclear if that decision would resolve all issues regarding Act 13 because Judge Quigley’s order enjoined enforcement of Act 13 Sections 3301-3301 and 3305, even though Section 3301-3305 were never challenged and Section 3305 was determined to be constitutional; the Supreme Court should clarify explicitly why the Notice of Appeal was quashed; the July 25th order is inconsistent with other Supreme Court decisions; and the pending case regarding the overall constitutionality of Act 13 may not dispose of all issues.