'Stars are aligned' to cut size of Minn. legislature

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Two Republican lawmakers say this is the perfect time to reduce the size of Minnesota's legislature.

"Politicians often talk about what other areas should be simplified, modified, done better. Well, we're looking at ourselves and saying, 'Why don't we start with us?" says Rep. Bob Barrett, a Republican from Lindstrom.

Barrett's proposal would cut the size of Minnesota's legislature in half, from 201 lawmakers to 96. Currently, Minnesota has the fifth largest legislature in the country and more senators than any other state.

With a controversial new $90 million Senate office building in the works, Barrett believes this is the perfect time for his bill.

"We believe the stars are aligned at this exact time in Minnesota history," Barrett said. "If we reduced the number by half, there would be absolutely no need to build that building."

He estimates the reduction in size would save taxpayers another $10 million per year in salaries and expenses.

A companion bill will be introduced in the Senate this week by Sen. Dave Osmek, a Republican from Mound.

"We're here as part-time legislators. We're also here to lead by example and if that means we need to have a few less of us scurrying around here, I think that's a good thing," said Osmek. "If that costs me my job, hey, I'm just happy with that because we're doing the right thing for Minnesotans."


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