Plan to reduce Pa. Legislature to single chamber faces long odds

    On the heels of plans to shrink the size of Pennsylvania’s Legislature is another to dissolve its two-tier structure.

     

    Rep. Jaret Gibbons, D-Beaver, wants Pennsylvania to go back to its roots, when it had a single-chamber General Assembly.

    He says he doesn’t see why the only state with a unicameral legislature should be Nebraska, which has used the system since the 1930s.

    “The first session since when they did this, they saw a 50 percent reduction in savings,” he said. “My estimate is at least about 30 to 35 percent reduction we can save by doing this.”

    That would constitute an estimated $90 million in savings for the General Assembly, which spent about $307 million last year.

    Gibbons says popular legislation is too often stymied because of each chamber’s tendency to pass its own versions of similar bills.

    “All of a sudden, even though both sides supported the bill that was the same or similar, it doesn’t actually become law. So really, sometimes that breaks down legislation that both chambers might support,” he said.

    Gibbons’ plan calls for dissolving the two chambers and reducing the number of lawmakers from 253 to 201.

    Gibbons acknowledges it will be difficult to gain support for the proposal. Last session, it died in committee.

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