House Approves Benninghoff Bill to Eliminate Costly State Mandate for Counties

HARRISBURG – The state House today in Harrisburg approved a bill introduced by Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) that would eliminate a state mandate that can drive up costs for some county governments.

“By providing county governments with flexibility, we can empower them to save taxpayer dollars,” Benninghoff said.  “My bill would update a law that has been on the books since the 1950s and is no longer reflective of the current needs of constituents.”

Under a current state law adopted in 1955, counties that reach a certain population threshold are required to separate the position of prothonotary and clerk of courts into two positions instead of one.  A prothonotary serves as a custodian of civil legal documents and processes certain legal filings.  A clerk of courts serves as a custodian of criminal legal documents.

Benninghoff’s bill would allow counties, like Centre County, affected by the law to choose whether or not to separate the one job into two elected positions, forcing them to create a whole new position.

“A lot has changed since 1955,” Benninghoff said.  “With the improvements made to computers and the invention of the Internet, workers have a lot more tools at their disposal than they did in the 1950s.  It may not be necessary to split this one position into two.  At the very least, it should be something for the counties to determine without a mandate being forced on them that could easily cost an additional one-half million dollars of expenses for county taxpayers.”

Counties in Pennsylvania are grouped into classes based on population.  The 1955 law applies to fifth-class counties – with populations of 90,000 to 144,999 residents – that grow to become fourth-class counties with a population of 145,000 to 209,999 residents.

Benninghoff’s bill would allow fifth-class counties that grow and become fourth-class counties to pass a resolution allowing a single person to continue holding the positions of prothonotary and clerk of courts.

Benninghoff’s bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Dan Massing
717.772.9845 /

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