Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.
These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.
Each week The Sentinel will highlight one of the bills that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
Jury duty — it’s a term that for many creates a visceral reaction of dread. A not-so-unusual response to receiving a notice to report for jury duty is, "How can I get out of this?"
However, jury duty is a civic duty and vitally important to the criminal justice system.
Rep. Robert Matzie, D-Allegheny County, has introduced a bill aimed at taking a bit of the sting out of having to report to the courthouse.
House Bill 1127 increases compensation for people summoned for jury duty.
Currently, jurors and potential jurors are paid $9 for the first day of service and $25 for each additional day, according to a letter seeking co-sponsorship support signed by Matzie.
Pennsylvania law requires employers to provide time off for employees, but does not require the employer to pay the employee.
“This payment methodology creates a financial hardship for many residents who are summoned,” Matzie wrote in a co-sponsorship letter.
Matzie’s bill would require employers pay employees their normal wage or salary for days serving on jury duty.
In return, the employer would be issued a tax credit equal to that amount, according to the bill.
Self-employed people, or those whose sole means of income is commission, would be given a tax credit equal to one month’s earnings from the previous year under Matzie’s bill.
The bill also provides unemployed people who are summoned for jury duty be paid “using the appropriate rate of unemployment compensation.”