Pennsylvania House debates bills to shrink Legislature

Posted: 3:45 PM EST Dec 17, 2013   Updated: 4:24 PM EST Dec 17, 2013
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Pennsylvania's House of Representatives has given a lopsided vote of approval to bills that would allow voters to reduce the size of the Legislature.

After more than two hours' debate Tuesday, the House voted by a 2-1 margin to reduce the House membership from 203 to 153 and shrink the Senate from 50 to 38 seats. The bills now move to the Senate, which won't reconvene until 2014.

Even if both are approved by the Senate, the bills need another round of legislative approval in the next two-year session, plus voter approval, to take effect.

Republican House Speaker Sam Smith said he's convinced shrinking the Legislature would result in better lawmaking.

Opponents argue the changes are unnecessary and that they'd make it harder for rural Pennsylvanians to engage their legislators.