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Proceedings and Debates of the 1967 Constitutional Convention
Volume 104, Volume 1, Debates 463   View pdf image (33K)
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[Nov. 8] DEBATES 463
The staffing of the committees was a
relative impossibility. In addition, there
were inherent problems with the Senate of
29. There was a lack of manpower both
during and between sessions. This was
especially apparent between sessions when
we were forced to develop various study
committees in cooperation with the House
of Delegates.
There were more members than the
House could utilize and too few in the Sen-
ate. I had the job of appointing the com-
mittees and I think the problem was over-
working your good people on a multiplicity
of committees.
I think, too, that the small Senate was a
bit too personal. Senatorial courtesy was
prevalent and you could make a strong
argument that there was an excessive con-
centration of legislative power in single
I think the new Senate of 43 members is
a big improvement over the 29-man Senate.
It was reorganized into three major com-
mittees, the Senate Finance Committee,
consisting of 16 members, Economic Affairs
Committee, with 13 and a Judicial Pro-
ceedings Committee with 13 members. This
meant that we could funnel all the work
of the Senate through three major com-
We abolished the minor committees and
secured a number of advantages.
We were able to effect a logical division
of the legislature. We increased the work-
ing capacity of the Senate. Each member
had a nice committee assignment. He could
concentrate on that single committee and
become an expert in that type of commit-
tee work.
Every member of the Senate in essence
had an equal committee assignment. The
manpower available was improved, both
during sessions and between sessions, and
the committee staffing was simplified, so
that now we are able to fill the staff for
committees along with the research facili-
ties of the Legislative Department and the
Department of Legislative Reference.
There has been improvement in the Sen-
ate as a body because it is less personal.
Senatorial courtesy has been minimized,
and it is of a reasonable size for floor de-
bate, without the necessity for the use of
the motion for a previous question.
Now, under the amendment offered here
for a 40-man Senate, all of the advantages
of the new Senate would be retained. We
could continue the same committee struc-
ture, possibly a 14-man Finance Commit-
tee, a 13-man Judicial Proceedings Com-
mittee, and a 12-man Economic Affairs
The size of the senatorial district at the
next census would be approximately 100,000
people, which would be a reasonable size.
The problem of drawing senatorial dis-
tricts for single senators would be a rela-
tively simple one.
Also, we would eliminate the problem of
rivalry between senators within the same
district. When you have a multi-member
district, unfortunately, you have people
serving from the same district who inevi-
tably are political rivals. This is something
you simply cannot eliminate with multi-
member districts.
On the House side the problems are really
reversed. I served for eight years in the
House, of 123 members. There were two
major committees originally, Ways and
Means Committee, having approximately 20
members and the Judiciary Committee with
20 members.
If you were not on those two committees,
you were really a minor legislative figure.
There was a multiplicity of minor commit-
tees, I believe more than ten minor com-
mittees, but these committees did not really
do the main work of the General Assembly.
Certainly a body which has 40 out of 123
engaged in major political assignments is
not a well-organized body.
As a result of reapportionment, the pres-
ent House was increased to 142 and com-
mittees were reorganized; the Ways and
Means Committee was increased to 35, the
Judiciary Committee to 35, and approxi-
mately 8 minor committees were estab-
Now, a committee of 35 is too large, but
it is almost necessary in a 142-man house
to have a relatively large committee. Based
on personal experience, I would say that a
committee of between 15 and 20 is probably
an ideal committee. You can get by with
25, but when you get above that, the com-
mittee becomes unwieldy and large.
We have here a situation of the present
House of Delegates simply being too large
for effective organization.
THE CHAIRMAN: Delegate James,
would you pause just a moment while we
change tape, please?

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1967 Constitutional Convention
Volume 104, Volume 1, Debates 463   View pdf image (33K)
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