Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Abolish the State Senate?

The federal congress has two houses for a reason. It is that way as a compromise between large and small states in the original Constitutional Convention. Most states also have a bicameral (two house) legislature as well.

Some feel that this unneeded at the state level and results in a redundancy and a waste of tax-payers' money. One group believes that it can save the state a billion dollars in ten years if we go unicameral (one house legislature). They have started a petition drive to for a referendum to eliminate the Senate and go with just a House of Representatives. If this passes, it will require a major rewrite of much of our state constitution.

I understand the reasoning but wonder if the solution won't be costlier than the problem. I am truly of two minds about this. Having to convince two houses instead of one has the effect of a second look at all legislation, which is not a bad thing. Secondly, I went to school with our state senator, my younger brother used to play with him, and I really like him and hate to see him voted out of office like this. (But that is not a valid reason, just a personal one.)

I don't know how I will vote on this if it comes up.


Blogger Denton83 said...

I stumbled across this blog and we are having similar debates about our senate in Canada. Although all provinces in Canada have abolished the senate in provincial legislature, the debate has moved on to the Federal level of whether or not our senate (appointed, not elected byt he way) is useful or if there are better ways to do the same thing.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

I like the idea of two houses, even at the state level, for the reason you put up, double the people you have to convince.

Plus, depending on how your state does the dividing of seats often times you get different parties in control of the two. And I'm a fan of not having the same party in control of everything. It tends to cause common sense to get used more than bullying or rhetoric.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Capitol Crawler said...

Here are some ideas for you to consider when looking at this issue, and why I think you should vote "no" if this ever makes it to the ballot:

Any potential savings would be minor in terms of the overall state budget. This is partly because the work of the Legislature wouldn’t end, it would simply be foisted upon fewer offices who would end hiring more staff to keep up with the workload.

More important than money is the ideal of having a checks-and-balance system in place as our founding fathers intended. A bicameral legislature provides a diversity of membership, leadership and outlook that cannot be achieved with a unicameral system.

Nebraska has a unicameral system and while there is no indication that system provides better representation, reports indicate that state does have numerous overridden vetoes and a Supreme Court that routinely overturns laws as unconstitutional.

12:10 PM  

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