HARRISBURG — While recent attention has been focused on the growing possibility of a broad gift ban being enacted, another long-argued reform measure is gaining new legislative life.
State Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-13), chair of the Senate State Government Committee, said it is time to conclude a decades-long debate over reducing the size of the General Assembly and give voters a chance to decide the issue.
“Many people I hear from want to see more aggressive steps taken to cut costs and to improve legislative efficiency. For years, reform groups have contended that cutting the size of the legislature is a direct way of accomplishing both goals. In my judgment, we should give the people their deciding say in the matter,” Smucker said.
The committee will consider an amendment to Senate Bill 324 that would reduce the number of state Senators from 50 to 45. The committee will also weigh in on House Bill 1234, legislation approved by the House to trim the number of districts in the House of Representatives from 203 to 153.
Both proposals would require an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, which gives voters an opportunity to decide the issue at the polls via a referendum.
“The House of Representatives gave this issue a good start by assembling a reasonable bill, debating it at length, and approving it. We should not let this chance for historic change slip away,” Smucker said. “There is sufficient time left in this legislative session to do this, there certainly is wide public support for it, and there seems to be the legislative will to move forward.”
The state Constitution requires that proposed amendments be advertised 90 days before the General Election. That makes early August the deadline for action by the General Assembly to give first-round approval during the 2013-2014 legislative session.