The annual attempt has been launched to shrink the state bureaucracy by taking a big bite out of representative government. 

The Missouri House has been the target for years.  The state senate has passed bills several times reducing the membership of the House from its present 163 members.  This year’s proposed constitutional change would eliminate 62 of those members. 

The reduction would not happen until the 2020 census.  The first 101-member House would meet in 2023.   One of the sponsors of this year’s idea, Senator Jim Lembke of St. Louis, says Missouri has the fourth largest state legislature in the nation.  He thinks the reduction would save about $6.5 million a year.

But lobbyist and former state representative Todd Smith thinks that’s false economy…He thinks the state would spend a lot of money on new legislative offices for House members and would wipe out savings with additional staff and travel expenses. 

Lembke says the change would mean bigger House districts, but nothing like the size of Senate districts.  Smith says Representatives would have less contact with constituents and would mean a less diverse House.  The Senate has passed similar bills in the past.  The House has refused to go along.

“Imagine that,” says Lembke.

 AUDIO: Senate Committee Hearing 13:46 mp3