Time for a Part-Time Legislature?

Pennsylvania House Republicans Gordon Denlinger, Tim Krieger, and Bryan Cutler unveiled legislation that would return Pennsylvania to a part-time legislature. The bill, HB 1554, would limit sessions to January and February of odd number years, and would also increase the length of House terms to 4 years.

Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states with unlimited number of session days, one of only four with “very high” professionalization according to NCSL, more legislative staff than any other state, and is the most expensive legislature in the country.

Furthermore, our research on this issue (see 2006 Policy Brief on legislative size, and look for a forthcoming update) finds that states with professional legislatures have higher spending per capita, higher tax rates, and less economic freedom.

A Senate Republican spokesman says they won’t take up this idea, but there is no evidence to support any of the myths he offers as criticism. Indeed, the proposal for limited sessions and bi-annual budgeting is based on Texas, a state twice the population of Pennsylvania.