Senator poses RIF for house

Greg Salzer

JEFFERSON CITY – A reduction in force would reach the Missouri House of Representatives if Senate Joint Resolution 13 passes through the General Assembly and is approved by voters.

“We are clearly in reform mode in the General Assembly right now,” Sen. Matt Bartle (R-Jackson County) said at the Senate Financial, Government Organizations and Election Committee on Jan. 31.

New technology make it feasible for representatives to represent more people and do it just as well with better efficiency, Bartle said.

Missouri has one of the largest number of representatives in the country with 163 members. Other local states have smaller houses, Kansas has 125, Oklahoma has 101 and Arkansas has 100 members.

Senate Resolution 13 would reduce the number of representatives in the House from 163 to 99.

The Senate would loose one member, dropping from 34 to 33.

Bartle is proposing a system where each senate district would wholly enclose three house districts.

Some senate districts now encompass as parts or all of as many as seven or eight house districts.

Bartle has sponsored similar resolutions every year from the first year he served as a state representative.

“I’m hopeful the general assembly will look at this more seriously than it has in the past,” Bartle said.

Current salary and fringe benefits for representatives is $44,726. The proposed change would potentially save the state over $2.8 million.

Sen. Maida Coleman (D-St. Louis City) said with the change as proposed, the number of constituents would go up in each district. State representatives each currently have one staff member.

Bartle said the reduction in representatives does not necessarily mean an equal reduction in staff. There would be more staff members for each representative if the change takes place.

“This system does not exist for the pleasure of the people who serve the legislature,” Bartle said.

The resolution is expected to face stiff opposition when the House of Representatives take it up.