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HARRISBURG (KDKA) — With 203 state House members — the largest full-time legislature in the nation — some thought lawmakers would never allow a vote by the public to reduce the size of Pennsylvania’s legislature.
“Our goal is to put that on the ballot this fall to let the voters make the ultimate decision,” House Republican Majority Leader Dave Reed told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.
Reed, a long-time advocate of a smaller legislature, is predicting a constitutional amendment to reduce the state House from 203 members to 151 members will get to voters this year.
“It will be put on the floor for all the legislature to vote on it in the next couple of weeks,” he says.
The bill has already been approved by lawmakers once — and after a second approval — it becomes a referendum question for voters this November.
Reed says with fewer lawmakers, perhaps more can get done.
“With a few less cooks in the kitchen in Harrisburg we can get to a conclusion on major public policy issues in a more expedited fashion, and folks will sit down and work with each other a little bit better,” he said. “And, look, it’s going to save millions of dollars for our taxpayers as well.”
The projection is a $10 million to $15 million savings.
But what about the state Senate left unchanged at 50 senators.
Well, there is a separate bill to reduce the Senate to 38 members that Reed says the House will pass.
“It’s run into some roadblocks in the Senate before. 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.
Even if the Senate approves reducing their chamber, it will require a second legislative vote next year.
But in the meantime, a vote to reduce the House size is expected to be put to the voters this November.
If voters get the chance — and end up approving — a smaller state House this fall, it would not take effect until 2022.
That’s after the 2020 census.
As for the state House districts — their current size is around 68,000 people — the new districts would be slightly bigger with 88,000 residents.
Even with 151 House members, Pennsylvania would still have a very large legislature — larger than Florida with 120 members, Ohio with 99 members, and California with just 80 members.