Editorial: Bring down the House

While so many Pennsylvani­ans con­tin­ue to spend an ab­surdly in­or­din­ate amount of time li­on­iz­ing and mourn­ing a man who was a great coach but who was not so great at call­ing po­lice, Re­pub­lic­ans in the state cap­it­al are spend­ing time on an is­sue that could have a far great­er im­pact on the lives of most den­iz­ens of the Key­stone State than Joe Pa­ter­no ever had.

The House State Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee on Tues­day OKed and sent to the full House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives a meas­ure that would elim­in­ate a quarter of its seats. Pennsylvania’s House has 203 seats, and its mem­bers, who work part-time, earn $80,000 a year plus a med­ley of fringe be­ne­fits that should make Phil­adelphia City Coun­cil’s un­der­worked mem­bers quite jeal­ous.

The Pennsylvania House is the second-largest lower cham­ber of the na­tion’s le­gis­latures and, like much of gov­ern­ment, it des­per­ately needs to go on a diet. Do­ing away with 50 seats would not im­pede the bloated le­gis­lature’s abil­ity to ad­equately rep­res­ent the cit­izens.

The meas­ure still has a way to go, however. In ad­di­tion to res­ist­ance from Har­ris­burg’s pleth­ora of en­trenched politi­cians, in­clud­ing North­east Philly state Rep. Mark Co­hen, who has been in of­fice since Richard Nix­on was pres­id­ent, the bill would re­quire amend­ing the state Con­sti­tu­tion and there­fore would have to be ap­proved by two con­sec­ut­ive le­gis­lat­ive ses­sions and then get a thumbs-up from voters in a statewide ref­er­en­dum. No easy task, but then again, all good le­gis­la­tion re­quires work.

If you’re not sure if you sup­port the downs­iz­ing ef­fort, ask your­self this: What has your friendly neigh­bor­hood state rep­res­ent­at­ive done for you lately? ••

Send let­ters to: pronews@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at staff@bsmphilly.com.

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