A Republican State Senator from Schuylkill County has introduced legislation to reduce the size of Pennsylvania's General Assembly gradually. Senator David Argall acknowledges that there have been dozens of proposals to trim the legislature over the years, including a serious debate at the 1968 Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention, but none of the measures have gotten out of committee.
"I can summarize the problem in one simple question: how do you get someone to vote to cancel their own job?" But when asked why legislators see it as "their" job instead of an elected position they are temporarily holding, Argall responded "I can't read their minds."
Argall says he believes now is the time to move forward with such a proposal because of the difficult budget process that was recently completed. He said trimming the legislature would "save a few million here and there" but he strongly believes that "it is not appropriate for any legislator to demand cuts in the governor's office or in the Department of Public Welfare or the Department of Environmental Protection without a similar willingness to reduce some of our own costs."
Argall is proposing eliminating 50 of the 203 House seats.....10 every decade through 2053 and cutting 1 Senate seat in 2012, 2 more in 2023 and another 2 in 2033.
To make his plan more palatable to some lawmakers, he suggests lengthening the terms of state representatives from 2 to 4 years.
Opponents to downsizing have said cutting the number of lawmakers would make rural districts much larger and more difficult for constituents to meet with their representatives.
Argall's proposal involves amending the Pennsylvania Constitution and the bill would have to be approved in 2 consecutive legislative sessions and then okayed by voters.