The Maine House refused Monday, May 23 to ask voters to reduce the number of representatives. The Senate, however, voted the following day to support the reduction.

The House voted 80-62 to defeat LD 40, which would amend the state Constitution to reduce the number of House members from 151 to 131. The bill would have called for a referendum in November 2012 to decide on the Constitutional change.

The change would have been effective with the Legislature that convened at the start of 2015.

The Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee recommended that the bill be killed. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington.

Local legislators were split nearly evenly on the proposal.

Voting to kill the bill were Reps. Wes Richardson, R-Warren, Andrew O’Brien, D-Lincolnville, Walter Kumiega III, D-Deer Isle, and Jonathan McKane, R-Newcastle.

Voting to keep the bill alive were Reps. Edward Mazurek, D-Rockland, Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston, Joan Welsh, D- Rockport, Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro, and Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea.

Kruger said he was fine with the idea of a representative having a thousand more people to represent, but “in my view it doesn’t save money because it will lead to higher staff costs.  It also concentrates more influence in urban areas at the expense of the rural areas.”

Welsh said 151 members is unwieldy.

“I realize that this would create larger districts in some areas, but the fact is, today we have many effective ways to communicate with our constituents that did not exist when the constitution was formed. I also believe we should allow the people of Maine to vote on the question,” Welsh said.

Mazurek also said that he considered 151 representatives too many.

The Senate voted 21-13 on May 24 to keep the bill alive. All three local state senators — Sens. Christopher Rector of Thomaston, A. David Trahan of Waldoboro, and Michael Thibodeau of Winterport — voted to keep the proposal alive.

The House will vote again on whether to go along with the Senate or to kill the bill for the year.