The Pennsylvania House once again overwhelmingly passed bills to downsize the state's bloated, costly Legislature.

And again the measures are in the hands of the state Senate.

Although an effort nearly identical to the legislation approved this week died last year in that chamber, we're cautiously optimistic 2014 might be the year Pennsylvania begins modernizing its governing body.

Two of York County's state senators say they'll support the bills to shrink the nation's second-largest legislature, efforts one called "long overdue."

If approved, the bills would reduce the House membership from 203 to 153 and shrink the Senate from 50 to 38 seats.

"I think a smaller number of legislators will allow the body to gather consensus," said state Sen. Rich Alloway, a Republican who represents Dover Borough and the townships of Dover, Paradise and Heidelberg Township. "The problem now is it's just too large to get people on board because everyone's interests are so narrow because the district is so small."

State Sen. Rob Teplitz -- a Democrat whose district includes Conewago and Newberry townships and the boroughs of Goldsboro, Lewisberry and York Haven - agreed the "timing is right."

"It's an issue that I hear a lot about, and I'm sure other members have heard a lot about," he said. "It seems like it has grabbed the attention of the public, and this would show our responsiveness to that and our willingness to modernize the structure of one of the three branches of government."


In addition to the savings reaped by eliminating 62 legislators' $80,000-plus salaries, not to mention the cost of their staffs, proponents say a smaller body would be more efficient because there would be fewer people to slow down the process.

Critics counter that a leaner legislature would negatively affect the representation of rural residents and would mean less one-on-one contact between constituents and representatives.

We, however, agree with Alloway and other supporters who say that argument doesn't fly in the digital age.

"People contact us by phone and email and Facebook and Twitter," Alloway said. "Believe me, there's no shortage of ways for our constituents to get a hold of us to get information."

It will be up to the Republican leadership in the Senate to decide if the bills come up for votes - and we hope rank-and-file members pressure their leaders to see that they do.

For one thing, this is a long process and voters ultimately will have the final say.

Downsizing the state Legislature requires a constitutional amendment, meaning it has to pass both chambers in consecutive two-year sessions, plus receive the governor's approval each time.

After that, it's put to the voters as a referendum.

If it's successful, the reduction wouldn't take place until after the redistricting to follow the 2020 census.

We've seen how little our large Legislature accomplishes and how much we pay for those failures.

We need to switch to a leaner, more efficient and cost-effective alternative -- and the time to start that process is now.