Maine Steps Toward Adopting Unicameralism

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"Maine Steps Toward Adopting Unicameralism"

We have fifty states, but in some ways remarkably little institutional diversity between them. 49 of them, for example, have bicameral legislatures—a State Senate and a variously named lower House—even though nothing terrible seems to happen in unicameral Nebraska. Well, now it looks like the great state of Maine is taking some steps toward unicameral governance:

The Maine House today gave initial approval to a bill to create a one-body legislature. [...] The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. If it passes both bodies, it will need two-thirds support on final passage and would go to the voters for consideration.

Maine is billing this as a cost-saving measure, but I think of it as a good governance measure. Most people in the United States suffer from being represented by more elected officials than they can actually keep track of. Only a small minority of the population can actually name their two state representatives. Cut that down to one, and you make it somewhat easier for people to inform themselves about what’s going on. At a minimum if you hear that “the state legislature” has done something bad, you can go look up who represents you in the state legislature and complain.

It’s hardly a silver bullet for the problems of state-level governance, but I think unicameralism will help.

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