Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fwd: NEWS ALERT: County councilman Matt Drozd introduced a motion to reduce the size of the State Legislature (please forward motion herein to others)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Matthew Drozd" <mdrozd@verizon.net>
Date: Jun 11, 2013 7:29 AM
Subject: NEWS ALERT: County councilman Matt Drozd introduced a motion to reduce the size of the State Legislature (please forward motion herein to others)
To: <mattdrozd@verizon.net>






June 10, 2013


Matt Drozd



Bill No.  ________________




Expressing the Sense of Council of Allegheny County calling for the General Assembly to amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to reduce the size and the compensation of the members of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania.

WHEREAS, during this time of economic crises we have not seen comparable action on behalf of the government of the Commonwealth in regard to its own staff and expenses, in fact we have existed under a bloated system of representation throughout the recession and before; and


      WHEREAS, a recent report from the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that Pennsylvania, while ranking sixth in the nation in population, employs a legislative branch of 253 lawmakers and 2,918 support staff, which significantly far exceeds the amount of law makers and staff in states having much larger populations; and


WHEREAS, the NCSL reports that the nation's third most expensive full-time legislature, New York, has 212 lawmakers, a support staff of 2,676 and a population of 19.4 million. It spent $216 million in 2008-09, more than $100 million less than Pennsylvania; and

WHEREAS, Florida, with the fourth largest population at 18.4 million, has only 160 lawmakers with a support staff of 1,457, spending $175 million in 2008-09; and

WHEREAS, States with populations closer to Pennsylvania, like Ohio at 11.5 million and Illinois at 12.8 million, spent far less. Pennsylvania spent over $300 million compared to Illinois which spent $71 million; Ohio, $48 million. Illinois has 177 lawmakers and 980 staffers. Ohio has 132 legislators and 465 staffers; and


WHEREAS, according to the NCSL, only 10 of the country's 50 legislatures are considered full time and Texas represents the largest of all part-time legislatures with 181 lawmakers and a legislative staff of 2,090 serving a population of 24.3 million, it spent $126 million in 2008-09; and pays its legislators approximately $7200 per year compared to Pennsylvania legislators who receive over $80,000 per year plus a car of their choosing, retirement in approx. 10 years, per diem of approx. $161 per day, a lucrative health care package, and many other benefits.   


WHEREAS, a reduction in the size of the State Legislature has been called for periodically throughout history and most recently in  2005 when the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed pay increases for state lawmakers, judges, and top executive-branch officials in a non-pubilcized vote at 2 am spurring advocacy groups seeking support for a Constitutional Convention or a reduction in the size of the legislature; and


      WHEREAS, reduction in the membership of state legislatures is a growing trend according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as proposals to reduce the number of legislative seats in at least one chamber have been presented in Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota and Nebraska; and


WHEREAS, further, in 2002 Rhode Island reduced the number of seats in its state legislature by one-quarter;  Illinois reduced its House membership from 177 to 118 in 1980; and due to reapportionments in 1991 and 2001, North Dakota also reduced its number of legislative districts thus reducing overall membership; and


WHEREAS, according to an article by Charles E. Greenawalt II, Ph.D., of The Susquehanna Valley Center, "the large size of the Pennsylvania Legislature and the failure to amend the state Constitution to reduce it has brought forth criticism from organizations such as Common Cause to the League of Women Voters. Critics of the Legislature cite a lack of decorum, frequent periods of confusion during session, the difficulty in organizing majorities to move legislation and the necessity to reconcile various interests as the most common complaints"; and 

WHEREAS,  Mr. Greenawalt further states that "a reduction in size of the General Assembly or the House of Representatives could have beneficial effects for the finances of the commonwealth because the cost of operating the General Assembly has risen to over $300 million from a cost of $148.4 million in 1989-90 and $88.4 million in 1984-85"; and


WHEREAS, the Citizens' Conference on State Legislatures, a private nonpartisan research organization, called attention to the size of Pennsylvania's House, terming it one of the General Assembly's "most pressing problems"; and


Calls for the General Assembly to amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to address the size and costs associated with the current Legislature by approving amendment(s) to reduce the number of representatives, the staff allocated to the General Assembly and the compensation granted to the representatives. After such amendments are passed by a majority of the House and Senate, the amendment shall be submitted to the electors of the State and approved by a majority of those voting, and then shall become part of the Pennsylvania Constitution.


IT IS FURTHER MOVED that copies of this Motion be distributed to Allegheny County's delegation to the General Assembly.








In Council ______________________________________________________________,  2013.



                              Read and Approved.





                                          Dr. Charles Martoni

                                          President of Council



Attest:  _______________________________________

Jared E. Barker, Chief Clerk

Allegheny County Council





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