Democracy: Bulk up the House. Dump the Senate.

A number of initiatives and referenda have been cleared for circulation by the California Secretary of State, including,
1540. (11-0067) Legislature Expansion. Legislative Process. Initiative Constitutional Amendment

Increases size of Legislature almost 100-fold by dividing current Assembly and Senate districts into neighborhood districts such that each Assemblymember represents about 5,000 persons and each Senator represents about 10,000 persons. Provides for neighborhood district representatives to elect working committees the size of the current Assembly and Senate, 80 Assemblymembers and 40 Senators. Gives working committees the legislative power generally, and sole power to amend bills, but requires approval by appropriate vote of the full membership in each house for passage of any non-urgency bill. Reduces legislators' pay and expenditures. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Decreased state spending on the Legislature of over $180 million annually. Increased county election costs, potentially in the range of tens of millions of dollars initially and lower amounts annually thereafter.
I've proposed elsewhere that the federal legislature be reduced to one house and that the resultant unicameral congress be reconstituted with 30,000 members. Research has shown that beyond about 10,000 voters, districts are too big for citizens effectively to know their representatives. Given the reach of digital technology, participants in a 30K-member body would be able to remain in their district most of the time, meeting with other representatives virtually and conducting the people's business within the grasp of their constituents.

Democracy is badly in need of reform. What was practicable in the days of horses and buggies may be appropriate no longer. If the Founders were inventing the United States now, Paine would be tweeting, Hamilton, Madison and Jay would have a blog, and Jefferson and Adams would be arguing over at Constitution.Org. The system they would devise today would look nothing like the Rube Goldberg contraption they arrived at by compromise more than two centuries ago. For sure, they'd consider the current constitutional release as beta.

See, also:
The Big House by Sean Wilentz and Micheal Merrill (The New Republic 1992-11-16).
How Can the U.S. House Be Made More Representative? by J.F. Zimmerman and W. Rule (Political Science and Politics Volume 31, Number 1; 1998).
House of Representatives: Setting the Size at 435 by David C. Huckabee (pdf) (CRS Report for Congress 1995-07-11).
Beyond Administrative Apportionment: Rediscovering the Calculus of Representative Government by John A. Kromkowski (pdf) (Polity, Vol. XXIV, No. 3 Spring 1992).
A House of Our Own or A House We’ve Outgrown? An Argument for Increasing the Size of the House of Representatives by Christopher St. John Yates Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems 1992).
How to build a better House: Why Not Have 1000 Congressmen? by Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe 2009-11-08).
Political monopoly power by Walter Williams (Creators Syndicate 2008-10-15).
Why not have 1000 Congressman? by George Will (Townhall 2001-01-14).
Want to be more efficient? Increase number of politicians by Jonah Goldberg (Jewish World Review 2001-01-04).
Increasing the size of Congress could limit campaign spending by Andrew W. Cohen ( Law Center 200-06-30).
Growth in U.S. Population Calls for Larger House of Representatives by Margo Anderson (Population Today 2000-04).

Full Text 0f Legislature Expansion. Legislative Process. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Complete list of California Initiatives and Referenda Cleared for Circulation.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails