The state House of Representatives approved two bills that would dramatically reduce the size of the General Assembly. HB 1234 would take the House from its current 203 members to 153 members; SB 1716 would take the Senate from 50 members to 38 members.

The sponsor of the bills, Speaker of the House Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, has long argued that the legislature, particularly the House, can be difficult to manage because of its size.

“A smaller legislature will be more efficient,” Smith said. “A smaller legislature means state government will be more productive and more responsive. This legislation will bring a greater level of understanding between the people crafting legislation. The end product will be more responsive to the needs and concerns of the people of Pennsylvania.”

But others argue that reducing the legislature’s size would mean less efficient constituent service and would give more power to legislative staff.

The measures would have to be approved on consecutive legislative sessions and then go before the voters, since they amend the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The bills now go to the Senate, where past measures to reduce the size of the General Assembly have died.

With 253 members, Pennsylvania has the nation’s second-largest state legislature. New Hampshire is the only state with more lawmakers, but they serve part-time.