Lawmakers push bill to reduce size of Legislature

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With a budget passed by the General Assembly, lawmakers are preparing to leave the Capitol until September. Before they go, there’s a call to vote on legislation that would shrink the size of the Legislature.

House Bill 153 would amend the state constitution to downsize the House of Representatives from 203 to 151 members.

“Pennsylvania operates the largest full-time legislature in the country,” Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny/Washington) said.

Because it requires a change to the constitution, the bill must pass the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions before going to voters in a ballot referendum. With lawmakers looking to leave for the summer, Monday may have been the last day for the House to vote on the bill.

“This needs to be called up for a vote today, and I am calling on our leadership to make this happen today,” Rep. Daryl D. Metcalfe (R-Butler) said.

Supporters say reducing the Legislature could save taxpayers millions every year in salaries and benefits. 

“If we go to reduce the size of the Legislature, there’s no guarantee we’re going to reduce the tens of millions of dollars that Rep. Saccone was talking about,” Rep. Cris Dush (R-Indiana/Jefferson) said.

Dush voted against the bill earlier this year. He argues it will only make it harder for representatives to have a direct relationship with their constituents.

“When you have that personal relationship with your constituents, it gives you the ability to have a better understanding of where they are,” he said.

House representatives approved the measure in March but must concur with a Senate version. Senators last week removed language that would have reduced their chamber from 50 to 38 members.

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