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Committee hears bill to reduce House membership

April 01, 1998
By: Emily Goodin
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - A bill that would cut the number of the Missouri House of Representatives by 60 members probably won't see the House floor.

Although it was heard Wednesday by the House Miscellaneous Bills and Resolutions committee, the committee chair concedes it's too late in the session.

"We have a lot of bills so we'll have to see," said Rep. James Foley, D-St. Ann.

The bill, which requires voter approval, would reduce the number of representatives from 163 to 103.

"If the general assembly doesn't do something about this in the next year or two, this will likely be an initiative petition movement," said bill sponsor Rep. Beth Long, R-Lebanon.

But with only six weeks remaining in the legislative session, time is running out for bills that haven't been cleared out of committee. The Miscellaneous Bills committee won't vote on Long's bill until next week.

"I don't expect a vote this year but it's my number priority next year," Long said. "I want to go ahead and get some in-put and let it be talked about."

Long is proposing the bill for the 2000 election. If the voters approve, a commission would redistrict the state in 2001, which would then effect the 2002 election.

It would put three House members per one senate district and increase House members' constituents on the average of 18,000 people, according to Long.

The bill would then increase terms from two years to four years for the House and four years to six years in the Senate. It would limit the number of years a member could serve in a leadership position or committee chair to four years.

"It would relieve a lot of pressure," Long said. "We could serve constituents in lew of campaigning."

It would also increase term limits from eight years to 12 years. Term limits, approved by Missouri voters in 1992, begin effecting some of the legislators in 2000.

According to Long, Missouri has the fourth biggest House membership in the nation, behind Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Georgia.

No one testified in opposition to the bill.

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