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Lawmakers Move To Change Rule Restricting Local Official Training

Kevin McCorry

State lawmakers are working to resolve a legal quirk they say can make it complicated for local elected officials to get the training they need before taking office.  

Current state law bars municipalities from paying for conferences and other instruction programs until the elected person formally takes office.

Bucks County Republican Representative Wendy Thomas, one of the lawmakers backing the effort, said when she won her seat last year, she used the time between the election and her swearing-in to go to training in Harrisburg and read up on her new position.

Right now, local officials can’t do that unless they pay for training out of pocket.

Thomas said that seemed like an oversight.

“It’s just one of those, kind of, nonsensical things in the law,” she said. “Everyone agrees it should be fixed, they shouldn’t be forbidden.”

Thomas also noted, some of the townships she’s talked to didn’t even realize they weren’t allowed to pay for training before someone takes office.

“I don’t want to say they were breaking [the rule], but after I called my local townships and said ‘hey…’ they said, ‘yes, we would definitely like to be able to cover that, and that makes a lot of sense,’” she said.

The legal change had to be done through three different bills addressing different-sized municipalities.

One has passed both chambers, and the other two aren’t expected to face opposition.