The reaction from the public has been extremely positive, but Sen. Gary LeBeau, D-East Hartford, isn’t quite sure his colleagues in the General Assembly are completely on board with shrinking the legislature by more than two-thirds.
LeBeau, the proponent of a unicameral legislature, said Monday following a public hearing on the proposal that he would like to see the General Assembly adopt it this year.
“When I plant beets I expect to harvest them this year,” LeBeau said of his proposal to amend the state constitution and create one 60-member legislative chamber.
If bill is passed by more than a majority of the General Assembly it would appear on the ballot during the next statewide election in the fall of 2010. The measure would then be left up to the people to decide, or so LeBeau hopes.
He said the people of Puerto Rico voted to become a unicameral legislature in 2005, but the legislature did not heed the results of the vote.
“So I ask you today, as you have had the vision and the courage to bring this bill up before this committee, to have the further vision and courage to allow the statewide electorate to vote on this proposal, and to trust their judgment as they voice their opinion,” LeBeau told the General Administration and Elections Committee Monday.
He said creating one body of 60 legislators and eliminating 127 legislators would create savings for the state. He said in addition to shrinking the number of lawmakers, he’d also like to see the smaller legislature become a full-time legislature, instead of the part-time one it is now.
He said making the legislature full-time is not included in the bill but was part of his initial proposal.
“Along with a four-year term, a unicameral legislature would end the wasteful practice of the yearly deluge of thousands of bills that are introduced with ultimately only a few hundred bills being passed,” LeBeau said.
Currently legislators serve two-year terms. The House includes 151 state representatives while the Senate includes 36 state senators.
What do you think of LeBeau’s proposal?