Pennsylvania House Speaker proposes downsizing of state house

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August 15, 2011

Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, PA: The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is the second largest lower house in the nation. Its 203 members each represent approximately 62,573 residents[1] and are paid $79,613 per year plus per diem.[2]

House Speaker Samuel Smith would like that to change. In a meeting of the State Government Committee earlier this month, he proposed a 25% reduction in the size of the house, eliminating 50 seats and creating a 153 member chamber.

Smith argues that legislative debates among 203 people are inefficient, lengthy, and confusing, and often extend beyond the issues at hand. Opponents argue reducing the size of the house would distance state lawmakers from the citizens they represent and make it more difficult to satisfy the needs of a larger, and likely more diverse, constituency. Representative Mark Cohen expressed his concern that the legislature will become "more remote... and less representative of the average citizen."[3]

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