Franklin County

Stumbo: Ky. should consider one-house legislature

Kentuckians should consider abolishing their law-making system in favor of a single legislative chamber, House Speaker Greg Stumbo told the Herald-Leader this week as lawmakers prepared to start the 2010 General Assembly.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said he is "intrigued" with the idea of a unicameral legislature, which would permanently end bickering between Kentucky's Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-led House.

He said his staff has researched the issue and that such a move would require a change in the state constitution, which requires approval by the legislature and Kentucky voters.

"I don't know if the people of Kentucky would be interested in something like that or not, but I think it's worth some debate at least," Stumbo said. "I'm intrigued by it. I don't know if I'm for it, but it's interesting."

Nebraska is the only state in America with just one chamber. Most city lawmaking bodies are unicameral in the sense that city councils are not divided into two chambers.

About half of the world's sovereign states are unicameral, including the most populous — the People's Republic of China — and the least populous — Vatican City.

Stumbo said unicameralism is touted for saving money and providing better representation because it breaks an area down into equal districts with smaller constituencies — possibly 138 districts in Kentucky.

"This idea that there needs to be some overriding force to keep things in check, maybe as a country we have outgrown that," said Stumbo.

Other leading Democrats disagree. Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley, D-Richmond, said the checks and balances of two chambers "is healthy for Kentucky, and it is what will continue to be our structure."

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