Sunday, February 7, 2016

Size Matters

A plan to reduce the size of the state House is now actually on the table. We'll see if it actually goes anywhere.

Size Matters


(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Yo, boss, you see that a bill to reduce the size of the state House by 50 members actually passed out of committee and on to the House floor.

BE: I did! Can this mean? Could it be? Lord almighty, might it happen?

JB: Well, the bill's sponsor is House Speaker Sam Smith, a Republican from Punxsutawney, who's calling for fewer House members as a way to increase legislative efficency.

BE: That bill's the state's greatest document since Penn's Charter. Let's hope Smith doesn't see his shadow and scurry away from it.

JB: Been a long time coming. Needs to be done.

BE: Amen and amen.

JB: Think of the money we'd save. I remember after the 2005 disgusting pay grab, the AP did an anaylsis that said each lawmaker, when you figure salary, perks, benefits, support staff, offices and equipment, costs us about $1 million.

BE: So, we could save $50 million just like that.

JB: Yeah, but don't count it yet. As today's Inky story points out, reducing the Legislature requires amending the state constitution, which requires passage in both chambers in two successive two-year sessions and approval by a statewide voter referendum.

BE: Like voters wouldn't approve that.

JB: First, they've got to get the chance.

BE: What could prevent it?

JB: Virtually anything. Take, for example, simple politics. Right now, Republicans control both the House and Senate. Republicans like less government. Democrats not so much. The bill passed out of committee by a vote of 16-8. Six of the eight "no" votes were from Democrats, including Philly's own Rep. Babette Josephs and, by proxy, Tony Payton.

BE: So if Democrats somehow manage to retake House control this year or in 2014...

JB: Bingo. Dead bill. Plus, the absolute earliest this could happen is after the 2020 census.

BE: Oh, brother. Lots can change before then.

JB: Still. This is a step in the right direction. Good for the state, good for the process, a real reform and something I've grrred about for years.

BE: Grrr again.

JB: Grrr.





Daily News Political Columnist
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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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