Friday, January 30, 2015

House (and Senate) cleaning

With the Legislature back in session Monday, the State Government Committee is poised to vote Tuesday on bills to reduce the Legislature's size.

House (and Senate) cleaning

Oh, please make it so.

With the Legislature returning to session Monday after it's (so-well-earned) nearly three-month summer break, a vote is scheduled Tuesday in the House State Government Committee on reducing the size of the bloated body.

Yes, you read that right. GOP House Speaker Sam Smith has a bill to cut the House down from 203 members to 153 and a second bill to reduce the Senate from 50 to 38.

Think you could live with that?

Or do you still enjoy paying taxes to fund (at $300 million a-year) the nation's largest full-time legislature?

After all, it does so much so well for so many that it currently carries an 11-percent approval rating.

(That rating is according to the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll, which you can read here. Scroll down to page 14.)

But I digress.

Such reduction bills have been around for decades and always are popular with just about everybody who doesn't sit in or work for the Legislature.

The problem -- in addition to getting elected officials to (potentially) vote themselves out of office -- is the process is a long one.

Because the state constitution sets the number of legislative seats, changing that number requires amending the constitution, and that requires passage in two successive two-year legislative sessions and a statewide voter referendum.

Not sayin' it couldn't happen. Just sayin' it's a slog.

But the House State Government Committee chairman is Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County, a/k/a THE most conservative member of the General Assembly who would be happy to see all government reduced to, basically, himself.

So the effort could be off to a good start. As in what do you call getting rid of 63 Pennsylvania lawmakers?

A good start.

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

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

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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