Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A Modest Proposal

A Lancaster County reader has a pretty good thought on how to start fixing the over-sized Legislature. His plan needs tweaking, but is worth looking at.

A Modest Proposal

Earlier this week, I wrote a column detailing the chaos created by the Legislature and state courts over failure to draw a proper map with new boundary lines for House and Senate seats as required every 10 years following a new U.S. census.

The column mentioned there are six House vacanies, three in Philadelphia, for which there can be no speicial election scheduled until such a map is in place.

Of course, given my view that the Legislature -- the largest full-time legislature in America -- is oversized and should be cut, I mentioned that the more vacancies we have, the better for all of us.

Well, a reader in New Providence, Lancaster County, emailed me his thoughts, which he dubbed the "Legislature Attrition Act." 

Here's his plan:

"An easy option to reduce the Legislature. Many in office agree that the PA. Legislature should be reduced, BUT no one wants to give up their seat. Pass an attrition act that when a member retires or dies that seat is GONE and will not be filled. The area the seat covers will be divided into the adjoining districts. This way no sitting member will lose their precious seat. Continue this way until the House is down to 100 members and the Senate 40 members. Realign districts every 10 years to allow equal representation."

Turns out that the reader, 77-year old Joe DeFranco, retired from the Navy and retired from construction management, also got his plan published as a letter to the editor this week in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal.

The problem is that cutting the Legislature's size requires amending the state Constitution, which takes passage of legislation in two successive sessions and a statewide voter referendum. And there is a bill pending to begin size-reduction; but if you notice, while lawmakers seem anxious to cut education and social services funding there's no apparent rush to cut themselves.

Still, I like DeFranco's plan alot. Somebody should sponsor and push a version of it. And when/if it's enacted, give the guy a medal.

Also, thanks to Joe, I'm reminded again that our readers are often smarter than our leaders.

Grrrr.

 

 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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