John K. Manna
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
A state Senate committee is expected to consider two bills that would reduce the size of the Legislature.
One of the measures to be considered by the State Government Committee today is an amendment to a bill introduced by state Sen. Elder Vogel of New Sewickley Township.
The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Lloyd Smucker of Lancaster County, would reduce the number of Senate districts from 50 to 45.
Vogel’s original bill proposed reducing the Senate to 30 districts and the House of Representatives from 203 to 121 districts as a cost-cutting measure.
Explaining the reason for the amendment, Vogel said, “I got a lot of pushback” from people who believe “rural areas would be too under-served” if his proposal were enacted.
County commissioners and granges were among organizations that had raised objections to the amendment, he said, “So, it was a compromise.”
The average size of a Senate district is currently around 254,000. Decreasing the number to 30 would increase the population per district to around 420,000.
Reducing the Senate by five districts would increase the population per district to about 282,000.
The other bill to be considered by the Senate State Government Committee is a measure sponsored by House Speaker Sam Smith. His bill, which passed in the House, proposes reducing the number of districts from 203 to 153.
The House portion of Vogel’s bill is being stricken in favor of Smith’s bill.
Since the state constitution must be amended to alter the size of the Legislature, the bills must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and then approved by the voters.