Senate should act swiftly to reduce size of legislaturePublished Dec 30, 2013 at 6:01 am (Updated Dec 24, 2013 at 10:04 am)
As we return to Harrisburg after the holidays, top on my list of priorities will be leading the charge in the Senate to reduce the size of the legislature.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives recently passed House Bills 1234 and 1716, which would respectively reduce the size of the House from 203 to 153 and the Senate from 50 to 38 members.
After years of fighting for this meaningful reform in the House, we passed the measure last year only to see it die in the Senate. With the consistent and overwhelming support for this reform from residents across the commonwealth, I am hopeful that the Senate will take swift action, and I plan to use all resources at my disposal to support this movement.
Currently, I not only serve in the Senate, but I also serve as the minority chair of the State Government Committee, which will consider the legislation before it comes before the full Senate for a vote. I will soon be sending a letter to my colleague, committee Chairman Sen. Lloyd Smucker, requesting a hearing and vote when the Senate returns in January.
The case has been made time and time again that legislators can effectively and efficiently respond to the needs of constituents with a smaller legislative body. I believe that reducing the size of the General Assembly will lead to a more cost effective and productive body, but I believe that the public should ultimately have the opportunity to weigh in.
The changes proposed in House Bills 1234 and 1716 must past the legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions and be approved by the public through a ballot referendum. I hope that through public hearings and a thoughtful debate, we advance the dialogue and pave the way for this meaningful reform.
I hear from constituents about this vital issue frequently. At the end of the day, Pennsylvanians deserve the final say on a measure that will go a long way toward delivering meaningful reform in Pennsylvania.
State Sen. Matt Smith