New Castle News

TOP STORIES

April 7, 2012

Legislative cuts draw mixed local reviews

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County’s state House delegation split in their vote this week on reducing the size of the Legislature.

Rep. Jaret Gibbons voted for the measure, House Bill 153, while Reps. Chris Sainato and Michele Brooks opposed it. The measure passed 140-49 and now goes to the Senate.

The bill would reduce the number of House districts from 203 to 153 and Senate districts from 50 to 38.

Because the measure would amend the state constitution, it must be approved in two consecutive sessions of the Legislature and then by the voters.

Gibbons, a Democrat from Franklin Township, called the legislation “a good first step.”

However, Gibbons said the bill fails to produce “the significant cost savings” the taxpayers demand.

He said he believes legislators should go further to reform, and that would be to convert to a unicameral body.

“Returning the state to the unicameral system we had from 1777 to 1790 would end the unnecessary costly duplication of services and legislative functions.”

Gibbons has proposed legislation to create a single chamber consisting of 201 districts.

Sainato, from Union Township, said the House dealt with the issue before in 2007 when the Speaker’s Commission on Legislative Reform considered it. Experts testified at hearings and the commission decided not to recommend a reduction to the full House, Sainato said.

He argues that a 50-seat reduction hurts rural areas such as Lawrence County because “you would lose influence.” Sainato, a Democrat, said the influence of cities such as New Castle also would be diminished by making a district larger.

The proposed reduction would increase the size of a House district from a population of 60,000 to 80,000.

The proposal, he said, “saves very little money” because legislative staff would have to be increased.

“You’re not cutting government,” he said, “you’re cutting representation.”

In a written statement, Brooks commented that the proposal “has the potential to limit the voice of rural Pennsylvania and increase the influence of special interests.”

The loss of votes and representation from rural areas has the ability “to benefit more suburban and urban areas of the state ...”

The legislation’s sponsor said the bill is aimed at increasing the management of the House and may not cut costs, she noted.

“So, in essence, it’s about managing the members,” the Greenville Republican said.

The sponsor is the same leader “that managed members to push through the 2005 middle-of-the-night pay raise that sparked an outcry for real reform. It’s understandable that the major reforms and the independent thinking that has occurred since the pay raise would cause frustration for the old-time power brokers.”

House Speaker Sam Smith is the bill’s sponsor.

The bill, Brooks said, could result in a diminished voice of rank-and-file members.

Brooks added she supports a more gradual approach over a longer period of time so that legislators can see the impacts a reduction has on representation.

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
TOP STORIES
  • StateFair.jpg 'State Fair' coming to Playhouse

    The fair is coming to town. No, not the Lawrence County Fair, although that is right around the corner. This is the Iowa State Fair, and it will be live on the stage of the New Castle Playhouse for three weeks, starting Friday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • accountant.jpg DeLorenzo’s status with authority unchanged

    Deno DeLorenzo’s status as a contract employee with the New Castle Sanitation Authority remains unchanged. Authority board members met with DeLorenzo last week regarding an investigation by the Lawrence County district attorney’s office involving Shenango Township funds.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Baptism1.jpg Dipped downtown

    John the Baptist identified himself as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ ” On Saturday, local evangelist Randy Crum once again took a cue from the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, eschewing the locusts and honey that John was known to munch on but heading out into the wilds to baptize believers and challenge them to share their faith with their community.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • lamancusa.jpg Tanner, district attorney: No comment

    The Lawrence County District Attorney is keeping mum about a probe into finances in Shenango Township. “We don’t talk about ongoing investigations,” Lamancusa said Friday.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo 5 Stories

  • Shenango1.jpg Shenango Township: Supervisors fire Tanner, release DeLorenzo

    The Shenango supervisors fired township secretary/treasurer Brian Tanner and terminated auditor and consultant Deno DeLorenzo last night.

    July 18, 2014 3 Photos 4 Stories

  • gavel.jpg Shenango to take action on Tanner, DeLorenzo

    Shenango’s supervisors will act Thursday night on the employment contracts of two men being investigated for possible theft of township funds.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • money.jpg Shenango computers, financial papers seized

    Investigators have seized computers and a host of financial paperwork from the Shenango Township Municipal Building.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • money.jpg Second warrant issued in Shenango Township finances probe

    The home office of Shenango Township’s secretary/treasurer is the subject of a search warrant. A warrant was approved allowing investigators from the Lawrence County district attorney’s office to search Brian Tanner’s home office at 658 Melody Lane Extension in Shenango and seize all computers and computer records.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Our Opinion: Who’s watching the money in Shenango Township?

    The Shenango Township supervisors have some explaining to do. And that’s putting it mildly.

    July 15, 2014 1 Story

House Ads
Poll

The film "Into the Storm," about a devastating tornado, opens nationally Aug. 1. What's your favorite storm movie?

Twister
The Day After Tomorrow
The Perfect Storm
Sharknado
     View Results