A proposed constitutional amendment that would reduce the size of the Missouri House has been approved by a legislative committee.
The House General Laws Committee voted 11-1 on Wednesday to approve the HJR 41, which is sponsored by State Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit.
State Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, cast the lone “no” vote in committee.
Fitzwater testified before the committee on Monday, and tweaked his bill this week before it was voted on. The measure would now decrease the House’s size from 163 to 136.
“I had several conversations with a number of members, including (House) leadership, they preferred (to) not increase the size of the Senate so we kept that the same size, 34, and then we did four state reps per Senate district,” Fitzwater says.
The original plan would have reduced the House to 120, with three House districts in each senatorial district. The updated plan that’s been approved has four House districts in each state senatorial district.
“Thankful that the chairman (Rep. Dean Plocher, R-Town and Country) decided to take action on it and vote it out in the same week we heard it which I think shows that it’s a priority not just for me but for others,” says Fitzwater.
The measure now heads to the House Rules Committee, and if approved there, would go to the House floor. Fitzwater tells Missourinet the proposal would likely go to the floor after the legislative spring break. The spring break begins on March 15.
“This gives the House more legitimacy in the conversations over policy, when you reduce it (the House’s size), you give more authority,” Fitzwater says.
Missouri currently has 197 lawmakers, although there are two current House vacancies. Fitzwater says it’s the seventh-largest Legislature in the nation.
He also says Missouri has more lawmakers than any of its bordering states, including Illinois, which has about twice Missouri’s population.
Fitzwater also says that Missouri, with a population of 6.1 million, has 197 lawmakers, while Tennessee, with a population of 6.7 million, has 132 state legislators.
Missourians ratified a constitutional amendment in 1966, which locked in the number of House seats at 163.
If Missouri lawmakers approve Fitzwater’s plan, it would be placed on the November 2020 statewide ballot. That’s because it’s a proposed constitutional amendment.
Click here to listen to the full four-minute interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and State Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, which was recorded on March 6, 2019 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City: