State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

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

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 15, 2018 9:23 PM

House lawmakers voted once to shrink their own numbers, but couldn't summon enough support to get the proposal over the finish line. (Photo by AP)

(Harrisburg) -- A bill that could have reduced the size of the state House is dead.

This is the closest such a measure has come to passing in recent memory--but ultimately, not enough House members wanted to potentially axe 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 has to 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 shrunk the Senate too--essentially a poison pill.

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

Supporters, like Allegheny County GOP Representative Rick Saccone, 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 didn't do it.

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.

Berks County Republican Representative Jerry Knowles, who sponsored the bill, has said he's not sure if he'll attempt it again.  

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

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