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Amendment Reduces Number Of Senators

Washington’s state Senate would be made up of 39 senators, one from each county, rather than 49 senators, one from each legislative district, under a proposed constitutional amendment introduced Monday.

The proposal, introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Colville, would not change the method of electing representatives. Under current law, voters in each district elect two House members.

The districts were drafted to comply with a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the early 1960s setting forth the “one-man, one-vote” concept. Each of Washington’s 49 legislative districts has a population of approximately 108,161 persons.

McMorris’ proposal would, however, scrap the concept in the state Senate. For instance, King County, with a population of more than 1.5 million would have one senator as would McMorris’ home county of Stevens, with a population of only 31,500.

McMorris said she is aware that her proposal, HJR4209, would be in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling. So she also has filed a petition asking Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would invalidate the one-man, one-vote concept as far as states are concerned.

Her petition asks Congress to propose an amendment that “would allow states with bicameral legislatures to apportion the lower house on the basis of population but the upper chamber in any manner that they feel is appropriate.”