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Legislature Recesses for Winter Break, After House Votes to Shrink its Size

The legislature is considering getting a little lighter – in a few years. The House recessed until January this week, but not before taking up controversial legislation that would begin the lengthy process of amending the state Constitution by reducing the size of the General Assembly.
Any change to the state Constitution requires that both chambers pass an identical proposal in two consecutive legislative sessions. The proposal must then win the approval of voters.
The legislation, sponsored by Speaker Sam Smith (R-Jefferson) proposes to cut the House from 203 to 153 members and the Senate from 50 to 38. Both measures passed by margins of 148-50 and 150-48, respectively.
Smith said that a smaller legislature would lead to more common ground, while opponents fear cutting numbers would disenfranchise their constituents.  Some Democrats said the move would result in the state’s metropolitan areas becoming under-represented, while some Republicans in rural areas say cutting representatives and expanding their districts will make it more difficult to remain in regular contact with constituents.
“We may not always agree, but I believe that we will do a better job if there is a smaller number of us, because we will have a better understanding of what the other person’s problems are or what their constituents’ views are,” Smith said.
Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate, but the overall numbers are different. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) has said that the Senate will discuss the issue when it returns in January and that he believes any differences in numbers can be resolved.