Arizona Lawmakers Expected To Ask Voters For Legislative Expansion
When Arizona voters capped the number of state senators at 30 and representatives at 60 nearly five decades ago, lawmakers had less than a third as many constituents in each district. That estimate is based on 2000 Census figures.
If a resolution at the capitol passes voters would decide whether to limit the ratio of representation to one district for every 220,000 residents.
Republican Sen. Warren Petersen of Gilbert proposed SCR 1010 out of concern that current caps are outdated and prevent lawmakers from doing what's best for the people.
"There is a principle of representing the people, being accessible, being close to the people," said Petersen.
His district stretches from Gilbert to northern Pinal County.
"As my district has exploded, I have felt that it can be harder to reach more people," Petersen said.
Considering area alone, lawmakers complained driving through the largest districts can take eight hours or more.
The resolution has bi-partisan support, but Democrat Rep. Ken Clark of Phoenix complained that the proposal leans on 2000 figures rather than looking at population estimates ahead.
"I'm not saying I don't like the idea. What I'm saying is, it's not aggressive enough," said Clark.
He went on to explain his ulterior motive.
"My goal here is just to get enough members so we can tear down these old buildings and have something nicer to work in."
The House and Senate buildings were constructed in the 1960s and remodeled several times for functionality.
If voters ultimately approve the measure, authors of the proposal estimate it would add three more senators and six representatives to the legislature by 2020.