AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine House of Representatives voted 113-30 Tuesday to reject a proposal by independent Rep. Joe Brooks of Winterport to shrink the size of the Legislature.
Maine legislators have considered calls to reduce the number of state senators and representatives for decades. In his proposed legislation, LD 134, Brooks suggested a constitutional amendment to cut the House from 151 members to 101. His bill also would have trimmed the Maine Senate from 35 to 25 members.
Following a Feb. 11 public hearing on LD 134, the State and Local Government Committee voted 9-3 in favor of an “ought not to pass” recommendation. Democratic Rep. Brian Bolduc of Auburn joined Republican Reps. Allen Michael Nadeau of Fort Kent and Jethro Pease of Morrill in voting for an “ought to pass” recommendation.
Each Maine House member represents a district with approximately 8,443 residents, as of the 2000 census. Approximately 36,426 people live in each Maine Senate district, as of the 2000 census. A 15-member Apportionment Commission is working to redraw the lines of Maine’s legislative districts based on the 2010 census. The newly drawn districts will be in effect for the 2014 legislative elections.
Since 1960, five states — Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, Connecticut and Vermont — have reduced the size of their legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Rhode Island, which reduced the size of its Legislature by about 25 percent in 2002, is the only one of those states to cut the number of state lawmakers since 1990.
Brooks’ bill now goes to the Senate, where it will likely meet its final end.