Committee Stops Proposal That Would Shrink Legislature

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JEFFERSON CITY - A Missouri House committee blocked a proposal Thursday that would decrease the number of state representatives by 60.

The proposed bill would reduce the number of state representatives from 163 to 103 starting in 2015.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, said that his opinion on the bill had shifted since introducing the legislation. He said opponents of the bill had a fair point.

"I think there is some merit to it, there are some things that we need to look into just to make sure," Burlison said.

Burlison said he changed his decision after reading an opinion piece by former Republican State Representative Ed Emery. According to Burlison, Emery is a role model of his. 

Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, sits on the Downsizing State Government committee and voted for the proposal. However, she said the bill exists as a way to get good press for the legislature. 

"I think the proposal in the House and in the Senate are about looking good," Lampe said. 

Lampe said that this bill would not fix political issues at the statehouse.

"If you want to change federal government, if you want to change state government, you do that at the ballot box," Lampe said. "You don't change the structure, because they structure works, it's the people that are sent here that make it go bad."

Regardless of his changing opinion, Burlison said it is well worth the debate.

"It's a good conversation to have and I'm glad we're having discussions on it," said Burlison. 

The Downsizing State Government committee defeated the proposal. A Senate version now sits in fiscal oversight.