Tuesday, June 11, 2013

HB 1234 – Constitutional Amendment to Shrink the Size of Legislature

House Republicans have proposed House Bill 1234, a bill to amend the Constitution of Pennsylvania to retain the current size of the Senate but to reduce the number of State Representatives from 203 to 153.

The Constitution of Pennsylvania calls for the following process for an Amendment: Upon passage of the amendment by the General Assembly, the Amendment is transmitted to two newspapers in every county for publication by the Secretary of State.  The General Assembly must then pass the amendment again in the following session and the Secretary of State has to publish the Amendment again.  After the second passage and publication, the question is placed to the voters on the first Primary, General, or Municipal election to follow.If the electorate supports the Amendment, it will then go into effect in the next session of the General Assembly following the 2020 reapportionment.

Currently, there are approximately 62,900 people in each legislative district.  Assuming the population remains the same in 2020, each member would represent about 20,000 more people than they current do.  Considering that members of Congress represent over 700,000 people per district, this is entirely manageable and would produce a serious savings for the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.

On the downside, it would make rural districts far more expansive.  

Trying to pickup 20,000 people per district is relatively easy in a heavily populated area.  In rural Pennsylvania, it could mean having to add an entire county to a district to meet the population requirements.

Constituent service will be harder to achieve in these areas.

This amendment should be passed, but rural Pennsylvanians will need to apply serious pressure on House and Senate leaders that comprise the reapportionment commission to ensure that their districts are not drawn to be ridiculously expansive.  Republicans deserve credit for taking the lead on government reform in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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