Friday File

March 16, 2018

PA House passes resolution to reduce legislature

This week the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill that would reduce the size of the legislature. Such a change requires a constitutional amendment; meaning identical bills must be passed in two sessions and then the measure goes on to a statewide vote. Last year the legislature managed to pass the measure and this week, the House took up the bill again. This time, they amended the measure to also reduce the size of the Senate. The previous bill only reduced the size of the House; the bill as it stands now, eliminates 52 house seats and 12 Senate seats. Currently the Senate has 50 members and the House has 203. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration; where they could remove the cut to the Senate. But the bill would then go back to the House for approval. As it stands the measure faces an uncertain future. Members of both sides of the aisle spoke for and against the bill. The vote garnered 10 yes votes from Democrats and 15 no votes from Republicans. Some wondered how they would manage going from representing approximately 64,000 constituents to 80,000, others wondered whether there were any real cost savings.  Others noted that even with a reduction in size, Pennsylvania would still have the largest state House of any of the big states and the savings in salaries is estimated to be about $13 million to $16 million annually in the House and $4 million to $7 million if the Senate were to be reduced.