AUGUSTA — The Senate voted today to reduce the size of the House, one day after the House rejected the same bill.

Both bodies debated the bill, LD 40, at length before taking votes. The bill proposes to reduce the size of the House from 151 to 131 members and to send the issue to voters for approval. It proposes no change in the size of the Senate, which has 35 members.

It is sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington.

The Senate rejected an attempt to kill the bill on a 21-13 vote, then quickly moved to approve the bill. One day earlier, the House voted 80-62 against it. It’s still in the Senate, pending a second reading.

Given the initial tallies in both bodies, it’s unlikely the bill will earn final passage because it’s a constitutional amendment that will need two-thirds support.

Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, kicked off the Senate debate by saying that the size of the House hasn’t changed since 1841, when people traveled by horse and buggy and there were no phones, much less the Internet.

“It’s not a bad idea to take a fresh look at some things every 170 years or so,” he said.

He said the Maine House is the sixth largest legislative body in the country and is larger than similar bodies in populated states such as Illinois and California.

However, on the other side, Sen. Doug Thomas, R-Ripley, said he has 59 towns and townships in his district. He said 170 years ago, government “didn’t interfere with our daily lives as it does today.”

“I can’t believe it’s the right thing to do to make these districts larger,” he said.