Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Politics
  3. Republican

PA House begins process to reduce size of General Assembly

See also

COMMENTARY – On December 17, 2013, the PA House of Representatives passed two bills. House Bill 1234 (passing 148-50) and House Bill 1716 (passing 150-48). H.B. 1234 would reduce the number of representatives in the House from 203 to 153. And H.B. 1716 would reduce the number of senators from 50 to 38.

The reduction in representatives would mean that each member of the house would represent, on average, 83,022 people in the Commonwealth instead of the 62,573 they do now.

Called by some a way of “grandstanding" by Speaker of the house Rep. Sam Smith (R-Jefferson/Armstrong/Indiana). He denies this and feels that “A small legislature would be more efficient."

"I introduced this constitutional amendment because I actually believe that this body will do a better job of legislating,” said Smith.

A few thoughts come to mind.

On one hand, the vote itself says something important about those in the House. Passing 148-50, this comes to 198 members voting. Which begs the question, where are the other five members who didn't vote? And there were 148 members who voted for the legislation, while there were 150 who voted for the Senate version of this member reduction bill. Which means at least two people didn't want their jobs cut but were okay with the jobs in the senate being cut.

Just saying.

Another thought that comes to mind is that most people in the state don't feel their elected officials adequately represent them on the state or federal level. Therefore, each representative will simply have more constituents to ignore.

Its also interesting to note that Pennsylvania has, with its 253 members in the Pennsylvania General Assembly is the second-largest in the country. The largest being New Hampshire, which has 424 members in their legislature. Pennsylvania boasts a population of 12.7 million, while New Hampshire has 1.321 million. This means that in New Hampshire, each person represent a little over 3100 people. They can practically be on a first name basis.

Kind of hard to ignore Fred's wife Tilly when she stops by the office and say “Now Herman, you know you shouldn't vote for that tax increase.”

Then again, this may be another reason for those in office to make this cut. So they don't have to actually know their constituents. A little too provincial for their high brow tastes possibly?

Smith justified his attempts to reduce the number of House members by saying that “communication has made the world grow ever smaller in a relative sense, while the number people in a legislative district remained essentially static.” He says that email and social media “have made communication so much easier and instantaneous.”

thsi may be true. And it may be true that it will reduce cost by only paying 153 representatives. But I have always believed in the old saying "Never judge a man's actions until you know his motives." And right now, I don't see what his motives are. Is he grandstanding? Is he working on re-election already by pushing legislation that has little chance of being signed into law? Or does he believe in what he is doing?

In order to actually change the size of the legislature, it requires an amendment to the state constitution. And in order to do that, the same bill must be debated and passed in two consecutive sessions, and be subsequently approved by referendum vote of the people of Pennsylvania.

“Ultimately, it is the people of Pennsylvania who will decide whether or not to reduce the size of the General Assembly,” Smith said. “Today we have started the process.”

As Smith says, it is up to the people to decide whether or not to reduce the size of the General Assembly. And the people are always deeply involved in the election process. And they always come out to vote. And they always make the best and most informed decision at the polls. Right? [Insert sound of crickets chirping here.]



  •  One year later
    How victims have recovered a year after the Boston Marathon bombing
    Watch Video
  • Tax day freebies
    Everyone dreads tax day, but some businesses are offering deals today only
    Tax Day
  • Obamacare savings
    The rollout of Obamacare will cost $104 billion less than previously projected
    Top News
  • Blood Moon
    The first of four 'Blood Moons' came and went; is it the beginning of the end for mankind?
  • Arrest for threatening tweet
    A 14-year-old girl is arrested for issuing a threatening tweet towards American Airlines
    Strange News
  • Pistorius cross examination concludes
    Oscar Pistorius sheds more tears during the trial's final cross examination
    Watch Video

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about and apply today!