Posted on Mon, Apr. 11, 2011
I’M STILL ON a mini-high over the prospect of reducing the size of our nation’s largest full-time Legislature.
I’ve advocated a reduction for years. It’s recently proposed by the Pride of Punxsutawney, House Speaker Sam Smith, son of “Snuffy” (no kidding, his father, “Snuffy,” was a lawmaker before him) and a potential Pennsylvania hero.
Sam’s House Bill 153 cuts the 203-member House to – yep, you guessed it – 153.
A Daily News editor calls this bill “the greatest document since William Penn’s Charter.”
I like it because it comes from a Republican. If the Legislature ever downsizes, it’ll be under the GOP. Republicans like smaller government; Democrats not so much.
I like it because it’s from a legislative leader. Past reduction bills came from rank-and-filers with no chance of ever being considered.
But here is the thing: Reduction needs a constitutional amendment, passage by two separate two-year sessions, a voter referendum and, under Smith’s plan, nothing until after the next census and redistricting in 2020.
I fear that Sam sees his shadow and predicts 10 more years of a too-big House. So I want to speed the process.
A reader suggests a TV reality show: Lawmakers vie to keep their seats as viewers cast on-line votes. I like this and shop it to a few politically plugged-in colleagues.
One offers “Survivors on the Susquehanna,” a show with multiple elements.
I think it should begin with a joint-session roll call: Everyone not facing felony charges or corruption trials please stand and say present – not you, Bill DeWeese; not you, Jane Orie.
Then a dance contest, a public-private partnership. Lawmakers dance with their largest contributors – “Dancing with the Donors” – in the Capitol Rotunda.
Democrats dance to the tune of “Look for the Union Label”; Republicans to “Shale, Shale, the Gang’s All Here.”
(Credit Montco Democrat Larry Curry for this latter title.)
How about a wing-off debate between those on the edges?
One suggestion pits Philly Democrat Mark Cohen – supports legalizing medical marijuana, civil unions for same-sex couples and an increased minimum wage – against Butler County Republican Daryl Metcalfe – hates the immigrant “alien invasion,” holds an annual Right to Keep & Bear Arms rally and opposes the “homosexual agenda.”
Voters pick the winner. Winner’s party gets a weighted advantage on ousters plus a massive bucket of barbecued chicken wings.
How about a vocal competition? Singing to the grand jury. Big points for ideal dish on fellow lawmakers. Winner also gets his or her choice of a set of silverware or a nice canary costume.
A lawmakers’ golf outing with contests for longest drives and ideal 18-hole totals?
Those who score ideal lose points. They’re clearly spending too much of their time in Harrisburg golfing on lobbyists’ dimes.
A version of “Uncover Boss”? A taxpayer, technically the boss, poses as a newly hired staffer in a legislative office, then reports the goings-on and recommends whether to vote the lawmaker off the hill.
Of course each lawmaker can make his or her own case for survival.
In a segment called “The Biggest Loser,” legislators offer to lose some benefit or perk to enhance their chances to stay. It would be music to taxpayers’ ears:
“I’ll give up my say car.” “I’ll give up one of my district offices and its staff.” “I will not participate in my obscene pension plan.” “I’ll give my annual automatic pay raise back to the general fund.” “I will not take per diems.” “I’ll pay for my own health care.”
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Submited at Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 at 3:00 am on Politics by Alina
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