The Nebraska Solution - A Unicameral Nonpartisan Massachusetts Legislature

Short title: The Nebraska Solution

Sponsor: Roni Beal, [email protected]

Co-Sponsor: Brian Cady 617-943-2853 [email protected]

Vetting Sought: Platform, CDLC, LegisComm, Adcom.

Background: Nebraska has no House; only a nonpartisan Senate, avoiding joint committees & partisan speakerships. For more see:

Summary: Send the Massachusetts House of Representatives home for good, leaving only the MA Senate as the Mass. legislature. Adopt nonpartisan top-two primaries for Senators, and top-two runoff final Senate elections. Eliminate all joint committees. Elect speakers in nonpartisan, all-Senate elections. Otherwise duplicate Nebraska's inplementation. Financial Impact: 160 representatives * $61,440+ + 64 * $7,500 + $35,000 = at least $ 10,350,000 savings for the State. No cost to the GRP.

"The House of Representatives has 160 members, and about 40 percent of them get salary bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $35,000 for serving in leadership positions. This includes committee chairmen, some vice chairmen and party leaders. The House Speaker gets $35,000." Ballotpedia.

Implementation: CommComm will explain this in a blog entry and quarter-sheet handout. CDLC will review the laws proposed. A referendum petition drive will be started by Brian Cady.

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  • Brian Cady
    commented 2019-03-15 10:27:43 -0400
    Points in favor of the Unicameral Legislature: There is no reason for people to vote for representatives to two separate houses to serve the same purpose. “One man – one vote” has negated the original intent of having each house elected on a different basis. The unicameral form simplifies bill passage. The process is more direct. Bills are more readily available for scrutiny by legislators and the public. The Conference Committee, an inherent evil necessary for the operation of a bicameral system, is eliminated. Lobbyists are less influential in the unicameral legislature because the lawmaking process is more public. In a unicameral system, it is easier to achieve cooperation between executive and legislative branches. A unicameral system is more economical. A unicameral system offers greater responsibility to legislators. Legislators are more accountable to the public and their constituency because their position is a matter of public record. They are not able to urge opposite positions within the other house.

  • Matthew Andrews
    commented 2019-03-08 20:08:01 -0500
    I think Danny makes some good suggestions. I would prefer to see Senate seats elected by proportional representation, rather than abolished entirely. I think there’s value in having local reps who are connected to neighborhoods at a grassroots level. Senate districts may not seem much bigger, but for a small party like the GRP it’s a huge difference. The advantage of statewide proportional representation is that perspectives that have popular support but are not concentrated into a majority in any one district also get representation. With our 3% in statewide elections we could get a senator or two!
    Is anyone else working on this in Massachusetts? I think StateCom should prioritize demands that we can actually campaign on. It’s much easier to campaign on issues people are already mobilizing around, like police brutality, military interventions, rank choice voting, the Green New Deal, immigrant rights, labor solidarity, etc. If nobody else is raising these ideas I would consider this proposal low priority (which should be a check-box option – the opposite of important).
  • Brian Cady
    commented 2019-03-05 15:36:21 -0500
    While MA House districts are nicely small, the Senate districts aren’t too much larger, and dropping pointless joint committees and the obstructionist House Speakership seems needed to get us through transforming society by 2030, as our climate crisis calls for.
  • Daniel Factor
    commented 2019-03-05 15:26:18 -0500
    1. If the point of the proposal is that the GRP should support of a unicameral legislature in Massachusetts, it should say so explicitly i.e. “If passed, it will be the position of the GRP that it supports the creation of a unicameral legislature in Massachusetts.” It should further IMHO state that “If this proposal passes, the GRP Party Agenda should be amended to reflect this.”
    2. While I support the creation of a unicameral legislature in Mass., there is a good argument to say that it is the Massachusetts State Senate that should be abolished and the Massachusetts House of Reps. that should remain, rater than the reverse. Arguably the Mass. House of Reps. is the more democratic institution, as it has more members/smaller districts so it has more ability to be attune to its constituents.
    3. I think that any plan should insist that voting take place by RCV
    4. The Green Party supports proportaional representation. Given this, in addition to the regional seats, I would support the creation of 50 additional ‘proportional seats’ in the Mass House of Reps. in which if say 4% of the vote is GRP, the GRP would gain two seats in the Mass House of Reps. Since I think proportional representation is very importatnt towards the creation of a multi- party political system, I don’t know if I would support this proposal without some element of proportional reprrsentation included.
    Thanks, Brian, for this thought provoking proposal.
  • Brian Cady
    commented 2019-03-05 11:00:33 -0500
    Let’s send the Massacusetts House home for good.
  • Brian Cady
    published this page in 2019 Spring Statecom Proposals 2019-03-05 10:53:11 -0500