- Associated Press - Monday, January 13, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A state senator from York County announced his resignation Monday from the seat he held since 1998 and was named executive director of the state Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.

The lieutenant governor immediately scheduled a March 18 special election for the district being vacated by Sen. Mike Waugh, who had previously announced he was not seeking another term.

The state constitution says that a lawmaker, “during the time for which he was elected,” may not be “appointed to any civil office under this commonwealth.” A spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett said Waugh’s appointment did not violate that provision.

Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni said the job does not qualify as a civil office, as the Farm Show Complex is not a regulatory agency and there is no blanket prohibition on legislators going to work for the state.

He said that factors that determine whether a job qualifies as a civil office include the nature of the job, whether its duties are of a grave and important character, if the responsibilities are defined by statute and whether the officer acts under oath.

A spokesman for the state attorney general’s office had no immediate comment.

Local party leaders will determine candidates for the special election, and winning the March vote could give someone an advantage in the May primary and November general election.

Scott Wagner, the owner of a York trash hauling business who had already been running for Waugh’s seat, said he would seek the Republican nomination to run in the special election as well.

Waugh previously represented a York County seat in the state House for six years and was a township supervisor. He owns and operates Glen Ridge Farms and has competed in draft horse competitions at the Farm Show Complex.

The Farm Show Complex, located near Interstate 81 on the northern end of Harrisburg, hosts more than 300 events each year. Waugh was a Farm Show commissioner for nearly 15 years.

As for the constitutional question, a similar issue arose in 2004, when the state attorney general’s office went to court to successfully prevent the appointment of a Democratic state lawmaker who had resigned to join the new gambling commission.

Commonwealth Court kept the legislator, Jeffrey Coy, off the gambling board but said he could be appointed when his state House term expired, which is what occurred.

“The phrase ‘during the time for which he was elected’ logically applies to the remainder of the time when a legislator should have served, even if he or she resigns before the term ends,” Judge Doris A. Smith-Ribner wrote in the Coy case, which was not appealed.

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