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Senator renews push to shrink size of Pa. General Assembly

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Berks County Democratic Sen. Judy Schwank is once again calling on state lawmakers to reduce the size of the General Assembly.

Schwank's Senate Bill 336 would drop the size of the state Senate to 40 members from its current 50, while the House would go to 121 from 203 members.

"Our legislature worked well in the mid-19th century when a larger number of representatives and senators were needed to make sure their constituents' voices were heard in Harrisburg," Schwank said Monday in a statement. "But we no longer communicate today the way we did then, and we're wasting millions of tax dollars every year by continuing this antiquated way of daily legislating."

Similar proposals have been floating around Harrisburg. House Speaker Sam Smith has introduced a bill that would reduce the House to 153 members — a measure that failed to clear the Senate last session.

Last week, Smith issued a memo stating his intention to also introduce a bill to reduce the size of the Senate to 38 members.

"It is my sincere hope separate legislative initiatives will provide the greatest opportunity for consideration by the Senate," he said.

With 203 members, the state House is the second largest in the country, trailing only New Hampshire.

To change the size of the legislature requires an amendment to the state Constitution. The same bill must be debated and passed in two consecutive sessions and then approved by statewide referendum vote.

Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jasons@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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