Maine House OKs unicameral Legislature bill

Posted June 09, 2009, at 12:02 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine House has endorsed a plan to replace the state’s two-body Legislature with a unicameral system.

The bill passed with less than the two-thirds majority that would be needed for final passage. It faces additional House and Senate votes.

As approved Tuesday, the proposed constitutional amendment would reduce the Legislature to one, 151-member body. The present Legislature has a 151-member House of Representatives and 35-member Senate. The change, if voters approve it in 2010, would take effect in 2014.

Supporters said passage would save the state $11 million per two-year session and increase the efficiency and accountability of the Legislature. Opponents said the present system provides checks and balances on each chamber’s power.