Bill to reduce size of PA Legislature passes committee

Pennsylvania has the largest full-time legislature in the country

With just under two weeks left until the start of the 2018 session of the Wyoming Legislature, over 120 bills had been filed for consideration as of Tuesday morning.

The bill passed both chambers in the 2016-17 session. "They weren't quite as willing to reduce their own size as they were the House, but we certainly think there could be some reductions there, so we will pass that over and that will be in their hands", Reed said.

The session is slated to convene on Feb. 12 in Cheyenne, and the deadline to file bills for the session is noon on February 14.

In a separate action, the committee voted 16-8 to approve another proposed constitutional amendment that would cut the House down to 153 districts as well as reduce the Senate to 37 districts.

Constitutional amendments must be approved by both chambers in consecutive sessions before voters can weigh in.

Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County, argued that the commission Daley is proposing would not be non-partisan since eight of its members would be appointed based on their party affiliation. In this case, the Congressional maps were passed in 2011 by a Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by a Republican governor, Tom Corbett. Jerry Knowles, R-Schuylkill County, has previously said that he hopes that the measure is passed by the General Assembly in time to get the measure on the ballot for the general election, when more voters will be showing up at the polls. If it is approved again this year before July, it could be on the General Election ballot this November.

But if Tuesday's committee vote is an indication, final House votes, if they are scheduled, could be tight.

One reason: Some lawmakers would be voting themselves out of a job that carries a $87,171 starting salary and robust health benefits. It also means those seeking influence would have an easier time: contributors could write larger checks and lobbyists would have fewer lawmakers to visit on behalf of clients.

Others said lawmakers would be stretched thin.

"We're all capable of representing 20,000 more people", Roae said.

Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadelphia, said he feared that with larger House districts the voices of rural areas and underrepresented populations would not be heard. That would be harder in a larger district. At that size, he said, it's too big and unwieldy and drains taxpayers' money. Some simply want to let the voters decide if this is a reform they want to see occur.



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