Less is more ... but don't count on it
Moving at a glacial pace worthy of its bloated size, the 253-member state Legislature successfully has used its own inertia to fight off what had seemed a promising effort to reduce its size. Such symmetrical ineffectiveness is brilliant, in its way, even though it serves the interests of the lawmakers themselves rather than the public.
Lawmakers, after doing little more this year than passing a budget that doesn't even try to resolve some of the commonwealth's most pressing problems, have headed off for a long period of vacations and campaigning.
Among the vast array of business left behind are several bills that would lead to state constitutional amendments to reduce the size of the Legislature. The House actually passed a bill to reduce that chamber from 203 to 153 members, but it went to the Senate to die, along with a measure that would reduce that chamber from 50 to 45 members.
Now, after seven months of ... well, not much ..., lawmakers say there just isn't enough time left in the legislative session to act on the bills.
Declining to act on its own size reduction also enables the Legislature to evade equally important measures to create good governance.
For example, the reduction would require sweeping redistricting following the 2020 census. And that, in turn, would increase public pressure for lawmakers to abandon their self-serving system to gerrymander politically safe districts, in favor of an honest, nonpartisan system. Such a change would produce many more contested elections and, therefore, broadly better governance.
Since the current legislative session will end this year, any effort at size reduction and attendant redistricting would have to be introduced from scratch after the next Legislature is seated.
The enormous redundancy and waste inherent in the system, however, will carry over.