Movement to Abolish PA Legislature

I’m sympathetic to this guy’s plight, but I’m not sure it will really fix much in the long run.  The guy essentially argues that we ought to abolish the Pennsylvania Legislature, and replace it with a unicameral legislature, with fewer members who have fewer perks.

The problem of our legislature costing so much is a real one, but I’d prefer solving it by going to a part-time legislature, like Virginia has, and cutting some of the perks.  I doubt folks in Nebraska would agree a unicameral legislature is going to fix anything, and I would worry that a smaller legislature, where each state representative represents more people, will pay even less attention to constituents than the current one does.  By making them part time, it should cost less money, and reduce the amount of time they have to screw things up.

12 thoughts on “Movement to Abolish PA Legislature”

  1. I’d be happy of we started with just halving the State senate and State House numbers, Take the total and cut in half. 1/2 ass and 1/2 trunks. That will save money.

  2. And while we’re at it, slash the number of days in session in half, the salaries in half, and stop paying a premium for committee memberships, leadership positions, etc. Everybody makes the same paltry salary regardless of years served or positions held.

    Their purpose is to do the people’s business, not provide a viable career.

  3. Consider that reducing the number of representatives or senators is anti-democratic, because you are diluting your representation. I would much prefer we increase our number of representatives to where the ratio is one representative for every 5,000 citizens; but return to our pre-1968 scenario of a part-time legislature that meets only a few weeks every two years and is barely paid more than expenses.

    When you have a small citizen-to-representative ratio, it becomes possible for ordinary people to run for office and win, without machine support, simply by doing the legwork required to visit every single voter in the district while campaigning. It also reduces the value of big money in campaigning, since well-heeled candidates who wish to use the media have to pay to advertise to thousands of people who can’t vote for them, while the little guy can gain ground using only sweat equity.

    With regard to the state senate, I’d like to emulate the federal model, with two senators for every county. Forest County would have the same number of senators as Philadelphia or Allegheny Counties.

    Of course, I love.gridlock.

    For the historical record, the late Jim Wright (R-142nd), father of Matt, who took his seat, used to introduce a bill to establish a unicameral state legislature in every session, where it of course went nowhere. I never understood his motive, and it was kind of quirky. It appears state reps are allowed a certain number of quirks by their parties.

  4. In NH, we have one of the most representative state governments in the country, in terms of “reps per citizen”, and we pay them all of $100 a year.

    Works for me.

  5. Bruce:

    You guys in NH are exactly the people I was thinking of for my model. Except for the rep-per-citizen ratio, we were very similar in PA prior to 1968, but then the media took up the chant of trading in our “horse-and-buggy” government for a “modern, professional” one. The rest, sad to say, is history.

    Prior to 1968 we also did not have a state income tax, or any number of other, similar, accoutrements of “modern” government, and I remember quite clearly having running water, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. Of course today it is known that civilization would not go on without increasing the income tax, as is being discussed as I write.

  6. “With regard to the state senate, I’d like to emulate the federal model, with two senators for every county.”

    I believe SCOTUS has taken that option off the table.

  7. Diomed:

    How so? Don’t states at least still have the option of organizing their own governments?

  8. Only within the parameters of “one man one vote” as established by the Warren Court rulings. See here:

    In various reapportionment cases decided by the Supreme Court in the 1960s, notably Wesberry v. Sanders, Reynolds v. Sims and Baker v. Carr, the court ruled that districts for the United States House of Representatives and for the legislative districts of both houses of state legislatures had to contain roughly equal populations. (The US Senate was not affected by these rulings, as its makeup was explicitly established in the US Constitution.)[2] The cases concerning malapportionment ended the pattern of gross rural overrepresentation and urban underrepresentation in the US House and state legislatures. Eventually the rulings were extended over local (city) districts as well, as in Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris.[3]

    So it would seem that having such a system is a prerogative of the federal government.

  9. Sebastian:

    Thanks. If I am one of your resident cynics, I am now more cynical than ever. Freedom is the freedom to do what the federal government allows.

  10. I think the best way to prevent a state from enacting bad law is to reduce the time they sit and reduce the pay. The downside of reducing pay is that they are more motivated by bribery and corruption.

    However man gets corrupted when he has money or not. They are just more motivated when he does not have any money.

  11. Turn off the air conditioning. Do the same in Washington. You will save both Energy and money.

  12. One 60 day session every 2 years to pass the budget and then home to their real jobs. Pay them what school teachers get per month for the 2 months they actually work.

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