The Governor of Philadelphia, Eddie Soprano, wants to clean up Pennsylvania. In the grand American tradition of uninspiring politicians, Gov. Soprano wants to curb "special interest" influence in Harrisburg. He has reheated the standard blue-plate fare: reduce the size of the Legislature, impose term limits, and cap campaign contributions from individuals.
Rendell must be ignorant of one of the reasons behind the creation of a bloated bicameral legislature. During the Pennsylvania constitutional convention of 1873, Pennsylvanians thought that increasing the number of legislators would make it too expensive for the Pennsylvania Railroad to buy off every vote.
If Rendell wanted to cripple the influence of lobbyists, unions, and businesses he'd suggest dissolving the professional legislature altogether. Create a 500-member, part-time, unicameral chamber.
If there is a reduction in membership legislative districts will be geographically larger and more populous. Candidates will have to raise more money. The grassroots candidate will become extinct (see Bill Kortz).
Here's how the Post-Gazette's Tracy Mauriello introduces Rendell's idea for campaign finance reform:
Gov. Ed Rendell had no qualms about accepting $100,000-and-up campaign contributions when he ran for re-election last fall.
Now, though, he says that's too much; contributions should be limited to $5,000 in gubernatorial elections and $2,000 in most other races.
"There's far too much influence in the governmental process by people and organizations with large amounts of money," Mr. Rendell told reporters yesterday at the Pennsylvania Press Club's monthly luncheon.