Pa. House-shrinking bill dies — not with a bang, but with a procedural vote

The state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

The state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

A bill that could have reduced the size of Pennsylvania’s House is dead.

This is the closest such a measure has come to passing in recent memory; ultimately, not enough House members wanted to potentially ax their own seats.

The bill would have amended the state Constitution to shrink House membership from 203 to 151. For an amendment to succeed, it must pass both legislative chambers in two consecutive sessions with the same language.

It passed last session. But this time around, lawmakers added a provision that would have condensed the Senate too — essentially a poison pill.

The most recent vote would have stripped away that provision and allowed the amendment to go to voters for a referendum.

Supporters, including Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny, spoke passionately on the floor — telling fellow lawmakers, “People back at home, they don’t think we’ll do it … they don’t think we have the ethics and integrity and the courage to actually finish the job we started.”

Ultimately, they did not.

Though the bill hasn’t been formally voted down, it’s considered functionally dead now.

If supporters want to try again, they’ll have to restart the effort from scratch next year.

Bill sponsor Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Berks, has said he’s not sure if he’ll attempt it again.

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