Some say the 203-member state House is too big for its own good, and HB 153 would slash membership by 50 following the 2020 Census. It received some bipartisan support in the House State Government Committee on Tuesday. Its next stop is the House floor.
Knowing that similar bills have never seen the light of day, State Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) called it a historic day. “We get to send a message to the residents of Pennsylvania that we are serious about looking at the foundation of our General Assembly, we are serious about cutting our costs, we are serious about right-sizing government,” Grove said prior to the vote.
HB 153 is sponsored by Speaker of the House Sam Smith (R-Jefferson) and capitol observers say that kind of clout gives this measure a better shot at passing than previous efforts.
Critics, however, contend that larger House districts would create a whole new set of problems. “You are making us more dependent on special interest group money if you do decrease the size of the legislature,” says Delaware County Democrat Greg Vitali, who also questions whether such an effort would actually save taxpayers money.
Reducing the size of the state House would require a constitutional amendment, which means this bill would have to pass two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly before being put to a voter referendum. HB 153 would not make any changes to the 50-member state Senate.