– The House approved an amended version of House Bill 153
, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Carbon/Schuylkill), on second consideration in early February. This bill would allow the people of Pennsylvania to decide if the House should consist of 203 representatives, or 151 representatives. If the people decide to downsize, the state Constitution would be amended.
“I am glad that the House voted in favor of this measure on second consideration, but I am disappointed that it was amended because the bill needs to be identically passed in back-to-back sessions in order for this process to work,” Knowles said. “The idea that voters could still vote on this in November is not impossible yet. It has to pass the House and then be sent to the Senate, and depending on what they do to the bill, people could still get to vote on this in November. I vow to continue to see they get that opportunity.”
In the 2015-16 session of the General Assembly, House Bill 153, again sponsored by Knowles, passed in both the House and Senate. Article XI, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution requires that identical language be passed in two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly before it can be voted by voters.
“The most important component of this legislation is that it allows our bosses, the people of Pennsylvania, to choose the size of their state House. I truly believe that a smaller body in the state House would lead to better discussion and clearer debate on the issues, as well as more of an opportunity for each person to make his or her point, he said.”
Pennsylvania is the largest full-time legislature in the nation. Currently the ratio of representation between the state House and state Senate is four House seats to one Senate seat. If the people vote to reduce the House membership to 151, that ratio would expand to three House seats to one Senate seat. Further, Pennsylvania’s population is approximately 12.8 million, and presently each state representative represents about 62,000 people. If the House is reduced to 151 members, each representative would serve a constituency of approximately 84,000.
“If you look at Illinois, that state’s population is about 12.8 million, and its House has 118 state representatives who serve 109,000 people,” Knowles said. “New York is populated by about 19.8 million people, and they have 150 state representatives who each represent 129,000 people. The concept of having a smaller House membership is doable in other states, and I believe it is possible here in Pennsylvania, too.”
For more information about this House Bill 153, or any other legislative topic, contact Knowles’ district office in Tamaqua at 570-668-1240, or in Hamburg at 610-562-3411. Information can also be found online at RepKnowles.com
Representative Jerry Knowles
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Krisinda Corbin