3 bills propose smaller Maine Legislature

Posted April 24, 2011, at 9:44 a.m.
Last modified April 24, 2011, at 3:15 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A mix of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are supporting three bills that propose different plans to reduce the size of the 186-member Maine Legislature.

The bills appear as the House gets ready to debate another bill calling for a unicameral Legislature of only 151 members. All of the bills propose constitutional amendments, which need two-thirds legislative approval and voter authorization.

One bill would get rid of 62 House and Senate seats. The reduction would take effect in 2015.

The second would lop 68 seats from the two bodies, but also extend the length of legislative sessions.

The third bill applies only to the House and would remove 20 representatives’ seats.

A news conference is scheduled for Monday by the bills’ sponsors.

The sponsor of the unicameral bill, Democratic Rep. Linda Valentino of Saco, says consolidating the Legislature is important now more than ever as elected officials search for ways to maximize resources.

This amendment would combine the Senate and the House to create a one-body, unicameral legislature made up of 151 members, who would be referred to as senators. Valentino’s bill won an 8-5 vote of support by the State and Local Government Committee.

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