Legislation to Shrink State Legislature Clears First of Several Hurdles

Dec 18, 2013

The state House is taking a step toward shrinking its membership.

Lawmakers have passed a proposal sponsored by the Republican House speaker to cut the 203-seat body to 153 representatives.

During debate, several House members voiced concern that reducing House districts would diminish the voice of rural Pennsylvania in the Legislature.

But Speaker Sam Smith says the measure doesn’t single out certain regions.

"The impact on any given county would be the same proportion across the state," Smith said. "So it’s not that it would reduce the number of legislators from Philadelphia County any more than it would reduce proportionately the number from elsewhere around the state."

There was no debate over a separate measure to reduce the size of the Senate from 50 to 38 members.

Both proposals passed the House and will go to the Senate for approval.

Shrinking the Legislature requires a constitutional amendment, so the bills would need to pass in two consecutive legislative sessions and then pass a voter referendum.