07 June 2023- The state Senate today unanimously approved two bills introduced by Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) that would add an additional judge to the Court of Common Pleas in Huntingdon County and repeal an outdated state law regulating the frozen dessert industry in Pennsylvania.
“These are two commonsense measures to make state government work better for the people of Pennsylvania,” Ward said.
Huntingdon County currently has one Court of Common Pleas judge. Ward’s Senate Bill 361 would add a second Court of Common Pleas judge in Huntingdon County and add four more Court of Common Pleas judges in counties across the commonwealth.
The legislation stemmed from an Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts’ Judicial Needs Assessment that showed a high utilization rate in several counties, which indicated the judges in those counties faced a higher-than-average caseload, which reduced their ability to efficiently handle cases. The legislation would reduce the caseload of judges in targeted counties to something more manageable and enhance the performance of the justice system.
“We currently have one judge who covers all the cases in Huntingdon County, so my bill would add an additional judge,” Ward said. “The overall goal of the bill is to reduce excessive judge caseloads and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our courts.”
In addition to adding a new judge to the Court of Common Pleas in Huntingdon County, the bill also would add one judge each to the Court of Common Pleas in Northumberland County, Chester County, Columbia and Montour counties, and Butler County.
The judges for the Court of Common Pleas in Huntingdon County and Chester County would immediately be filled by the governor with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the state Senate.
The judges for the Court of Common Pleas in Northumberland, Columbia and Montour, and Butler Counties would be selected by voters and would be established on Jan. 1, 2026.
The Senate also approved Ward’s Senate Bill 152, which would repeal the state Frozen Dessert Law. The law is repetitive and unnecessary because the commonwealth already follows other state and federal food laws and regulations.
“Pennsylvania has a robust system of food safety rules and regulations that protect our residents,” Ward said. “Repetitive and ineffective rules place burdens on employers without enhancing public safety and we need to remove them to make Pennsylvania competitive with other states.”
Senate Bills 361 and 152 now head to the state House of Representatives for consideration.