Proposal: Pa. Legislators Should Serve Longer Terms

Rep. David Parker says longer service would minimize interference of "never-ending campaign cycle."

Left: Rep. Dave Parker. Right: Pennsylvania state capitol. (Capitol picture: Ron Harper Jr., Wikimedia Commons)

Left: Rep. David Parker. Right: Pennsylvania state capitol. (Capitol picture: Ron Harper Jr., Wikimedia Commons)

Would lengthening the terms of senators and representatives in Harrisburg lower the temperature of politics at in the state capital?

Rep. David Parker thinks so. The Monroe County Republican is circulating a proposal to extend terms in both houses of the Pennsylvania Legislature — to three years from two for representatives, and two six years from four for senators.

“There is no magic in the two-year term of a State Representative or the four-year term of State Senator,” Parker said in a sponsorship memo posted last week. “In fact, I believe the ever-intrusive and never-ending campaign cycle which has worked its way into Pennsylvania politics has made those terms obsolete.”

A spokeswoman for Sen. Jake Corman, the Senate Majority Leader, noted that attempts to reform the legislature often involve reducing its size As is often mentioned, Pennsylvania employs the biggest full-time legislature in the United States. That legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf remain mired in a standoff over the 2015-16 budget — even as work on the 2016-17 budget has begun.

Parker suggested that work might be more easily done if members didn’t have to return to the campaign trail so frequently. “By extending each term by half, I am convinced that Representatives and Senators would be better able to serve the Commonwealth’s electorate,” he wrote.

The change would require amending the state constitution, Parker said, which in turn would require approval from Pennsylvania voters.