Sunday, December 27, 2009

A proposal to improve legislative performance

According to Dispatch columnist Thomas Suddes, the General Assembly should abolish term limits, require full reporting of lobbyist spending, and reduce the size of the House by one-third. I think Mr. Suddes can get a little flaky sometimes, but I agree with him on the first two goals. As to the third one, I strongly disagree -- in fact, I suggest that the quality of representation would be improved by increasing the size of the House by one-third (to 132, which means that one Representative would represent 85,500 constituents instead of the present 114,000). The Senate would remain at its present size by each Senator representing four House districts instead of three. The cost of the additional representatives can be absorbed by this reform suggested by the Columbus Examiner -- set a limit on the length of the legislative session. Smaller states have legislative sessions limited to 60 or 90 days per year.

Given the output of the General Assembly, at least in this session, a 90 day session seems entirely reasonable. The Governor can always call a special session in an emergency. Otherwise, I suggest that limiting the session to 90 days would concentrate the efforts of legislators on what is really important, reduce the number of trivial bills, and thereby improve the output at less cost to Ohio taxpayers.

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