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Unicameral legislature for Ohio

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Politics Unicameral legislature for Ohio

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  • #87565

    Brant
    Participant

    So, I’ve been thinking about this for a while… the idea of replacing Ohio’s bicameral legislature in state government with a unicameral legislature. I know it’ll probably never happen, but it might be one reform that could actually result in “smaller” government, less spending, and more efficiency, without radically impacting government services.

    So far, the only state with a unicameral legislature is Nebraska, and they seem to like it.

    Anyway, just thought I’d tap into the CU brain trust to see what you guys thought of this idea.

    ETA: resources I just found after posting:

    Ohio Legislation: the Unicameral Legislature

    Justice Paul Pfeiffer wants to “tweak” the Ohio Constitution

    Pros and cons of each system

    #454554

    Mercurius
    Participant

    Brant said:
    So, I’ve been thinking about this for a while… the idea of replacing Ohio’s bicameral legislature in state government with a unicameral legislature. I know it’ll probably never happen, but it might be one reform that could actually result in “smaller” government, less spending, and more efficiency, without radically impacting government services.

    So far, the only state with a unicameral legislature is [url=http://nebraskalegislature.gov/about/history_unicameral.php]Nebraska[/url], and they seem to like it.

    Anyway, just thought I’d tap into the CU brain trust to see what you guys thought of this idea.

    ETA: resources I just found after posting:
    [url=http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/ohslj1&div=20&id=&page=]Ohio Legislation: the Unicameral Legislature[/url]
    [url=http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/editorials/stories/2011/01/23/tweaking-ohio-constitution-could-be-a-good-thing-or-not.html?sid=101]Justice Paul Pfeiffer wants to “tweak” the Ohio Constitution[/url]
    [url=http://mirror.undp.org/magnet/Docs/parliaments/Legislative%20Chambers.htm]Pros and cons of each system[/url]

    Nebraska also has a smaller population than the Columbus, OH MSA

    #454555

    Brant
    Participant

    Does the size of the population matter?

    We can still have 132 representatives if we want. They’d just all have to sit in the same room.

    #454556

    Mercurius
    Participant

    Brant said:
    Does the size of the population matter?

    We can still have 132 representatives if we want. They’d just all have to sit in the same room.

    So what’s the point again then?

    #454557

    gramarye
    Participant

    The point would probably be to eliminate the delays, communication breakdowns, etc. as bills and resolutions are pinballed back and forth between two separate houses of the legislature before they ever even reach the governor’s desk.

    I’m generally inclined to shrug either way. If I were rebuilding Ohio’s political institutions from the ground up, I might go for a unicameral legislature, but I think the problem with the existing legislature is the legislators, not the Ohio constitution.

    #454558

    sirlancelot
    Participant

    As disfunctional as Ohio has become, a one-house or two-house legislature is, perhaps, irrelevent. Ditto Washington. Our choices seem to be devolving into socialism or religious mania.

    #454559

    Mercurius
    Participant

    gramarye said:
    The point would probably be to eliminate the delays, communication breakdowns, etc. as bills and resolutions are pinballed back and forth between two separate houses of the legislature before they ever even reach the governor’s desk.

    I’m generally inclined to shrug either way. If I were rebuilding Ohio’s political institutions from the ground up, I might go for a unicameral legislature, but I think the problem with the existing legislature is the legislators, not the Ohio constitution.

    Currently, if leadership in the legislature wants to accomplish something, there are no delays. This would only reduce the amount of total leadership there is. The legislature also makes up a minuscule portion of the state budget and I’d imagine you’d still need the same amount of aides, lsc, clerks, etc. to run the place. The cost savings would be insignificant.

    I personally think the pace of legislation should be slowed down, not sped up. Good reforms in my opinion would be requiring LSC to produce a bill analysis of any bill revision, per request of any committee member, before a vote could be held. I personally like having a few delays known as committee hearings where the public can opine and properly digest the impact of legislation and amendments to legislation. I’d be much more inclined to fix gerrymandering and limit the absolute control of the speaker and president in a bills movement and committee placement and members committee assignments.

    Part of a legislators job is also to help constituents navigate the bureaucracy of the state government and direct them to the right contacts in the federal in local government. I don’t really see how less representation would lead to a more efficient government overall. In Maryland every constituent has four representatives? New Hampshire has a legislature with 424 members?

    I’m still not clear of what your goals of doing this would be?

    #454560

    gramarye
    Participant

    Note that a unicameral legislature would be compatible with requiring an LSC to produce a financial analysis of any bill (I think that was what you meant by “bill analysis,” though I’m just guessing there), requiring committee hearings at which the public has a right to be heard before any floor vote, restricting the power of the Speaker, and designing redistricting rules that limit gerrymandering.

    Also, just an aside, but … in Maryland, every constituent has four representatives? How’s that, again?

    #454561

    jackoh
    Participant

    There is actually a good (historical) rationale for having a bicameral legislative body, and the underlying principle usually holds for all existing examples. In the British parliament, the house of lords exists because the repository of wealth in that nation used to be the landholding aristocracy. They were given their own part of the legislature in order to be able to block any proposed laws offered by the representatives of the common(not land invested) people that might threaten their interests. A similar situation could be created in the US congress if the Senate, instead of being composed of representatives of states, would, instead, be composed of representatives of corporations having a minimum threshold of capitalization. The idea being that the centers of economic wealth could be able to protect themselves from having laws passed that would impair their ability to function. (Anybody who follows current politics should be able to understand why this type of arrangement might make sense.)

    In the US Congress, the Senate exists (as it was originally designed) in order to make sure that the more populous areas of the country could not impose their will and way of life on the less populous and more rural areas, thus each state has equal representation. (And, again, anyone should be able to see why this might be a concern, even in these times, if you simply look at environmental or gun owning legislation.)

    In Ohio, the current layout of the (gerrymandered) Senate makes little sense. A better situation wold be to have the Senate composed of one or two reps from each county, thus achieving a counterbalance for the interests of rural parts of the state against the urban areas which could predominate in the House. So what would make eminent sense for Ohio would be not to go unicameral, because we have a lot more urban centers of power than Nebraska does, but to change the Senate so that the rural counties are represented on an equal footing with the urban areas and can prevent their interests from being subordinated to those of the city dwellers.

    #454562

    Mercurius
    Participant

    gramarye said:
    Note that a unicameral legislature would be compatible with requiring an LSC to produce a financial analysis of any bill (I think that was what you meant by “bill analysis,” though I’m just guessing there), requiring committee hearings at which the public has a right to be heard before any floor vote, restricting the power of the Speaker, and designing redistricting rules that limit gerrymandering.

    I guess I should have said these would be meaningful reforms as opposed to superficial reforms that would still leave us in nearly the same broke system.

    [url=http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/analyses.cfm?ID=129_SB_5&ACT=As%20Enrolled]Bill Analysis[/url] not a fiscal note. It just puts the legislation into language you can understand without knowing how to read a bill. However – requiring this per committee request would stop last minute amendments and substitute bills.

    gramarye said:Also, just an aside, but … in Maryland, every constituent has four representatives? How’s that, again?

    Nearly the same as Ohio but reps districts are the same size as senators and there are three reps per senate district.

    #454563

    Mercurius
    Participant

    gramarye said:
    Note that a unicameral legislature would be compatible with requiring an LSC to produce a financial analysis of any bill (I think that was what you meant by “bill analysis,” though I’m just guessing there), requiring committee hearings at which the public has a right to be heard before any floor vote, restricting the power of the Speaker, and designing redistricting rules that limit gerrymandering.

    Also, just an aside, but … in Maryland, every constituent has four representatives? How’s that, again?

    In addition, you said the point of this would be to stop delays and I was arguing the delays are a good thing. Sorry.

    #454564

    joev
    Participant

    If the unicameral legislature had staggered terms, I might be OK with it. The benefit of having a Senate with longer terms is that people can’t get totally swept out on the whim of the electorate at a specific point in time. It takes a few cycles to do that, currently, and whichever party is in power, I think that’s a good thing.

    #454565

    brianmumford
    Member

    I googled to see if anyone in Ohio was talking about this and was pleased to see this discussion. I definitely think a unicameral legislature is the way to go. Our federal bicameral system was a compromise, as we all know, between big states and little ones. The problem with it is it’s slow and cumbersome, it costs too much and it’s prone to gridlock. There’s no reason to justify its shortfalls at the state level. We should dismantle the current system and install a unicameral one to save money and speed up and simplify the legislative process.

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