4/3/2014 4:03:00 PM Barrett bill would down-size legislature
Monday, March 31, Representative Bob Barrett (R-Lindstrom) introduced a bill to reduce the size of the legislature by more than half—eliminating the need to build a new what he refers to as the “Crystal Palace” Senate Office Building in St. Paul. “Minnesota has more state senators than any other state in the entire country,” said Rep. Barrett. “Building a new $90 million Senate Office Building because we have too many is foolish. Let’s save this money and, at the same time, make government more efficient.”
The bill reduces the number of representatives in the House from 134 to 64, and reduces the number of state senators from 67 to 32. This will leave eight state representatives and four state senators for each congressional district in Minnesota. If passed into law, the bill would reduce the size of the Minnesota State Legislature by more than half. It would be effective for the 2016 election. In addition to having more senators than any other state, Minnesota currently has the fifth largest legislature in the United States with 201 members. The state, however, ranks just 21st in total population. Representative Barrett also emphasized that the bill will save the state millions without reducing the contact between legislators and constituents. “We live in an era where technology allows faster and more efficient communications between legislators and the public than ever before,” Rep. Barrett stated. “Larger districts will not have an impact on constituent services. The 201 member legislative body was created in a bygone era, and it’s time to say goodbye.”
Reducing the size of the legislature is an idea that has been floating around the Capitol for several years with growing bipartisan support. The idea for the bill was brought to Rep. Barrett by a constituent who was concerned about the taxpayer dollars going toward a new Senate Office Building. “In our state’s 150-plus year history, with the Capitol building renovation happening right now and an unnecessary $90 million Senate Office Building awaiting final approval, there will never again be a more perfect time for this to happen. The stars are aligned at this exact moment,” added Rep. Barrett. Senator Osmek introduced the companion bill in the Minnesota State Senate.