AUGUSTA – The House is expected Tuesday to debate a bill that would create a unicameral Maine Legislature.

Rep. Linda Valentino, D-Saco, is sponsoring the bill, L.D. 804. It would essentially eliminate the state Senate and create a one-body, 151-member chamber to consider all legislation. She said voters should decide whether they need two people — a House member and a senator — representing them in Augusta.

“I just felt every time we turn around, we’re looking to consolidate and streamline,” she said. “I think the Legislature needs to look at itself.”

She points out that the House and Senate duplicate many functions, including paying for separate attorneys, communications staffs, clerks and other workers. Her bill would save $11 million by eliminating the Senate, she said.

Nebraska is the only state with a unicameral Legislature. Valentino said five other states are considering legislation this year to move to a one-body system.

Still, as a constitutional amendment that needs two-thirds support in the House and Senate to be sent to voters, it faces a steep uphill climb.

“I’m hoping it will pass the House and have a serious debate in the Senate,” Valentino said. 

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A bill that appeared to be headed nowhere after an 11-2 “ought not to pass” committee report was passed on a 23-12 vote in the Senate last week.

L.D. 1572, as amended, would allow voters to elect Maine’s secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general every four years. As it is now, the majority party in the Legislature gets to fill the positions.

The bill, which calls for a constitutional amendment, is headed to the House. It will need two-thirds support on final passage, so it’s far from a done deal. 

‘SMALLER LEGISLATURE’ BILL LIVES

The Senate also kept alive a bill that would reduce the size of the House — and now the Senate.

An amended version of L.D. 40 would allow voters to decide whether they want to cut the House from 151 members to 131 and the Senate from 35 members to 31 or 33 in 2015.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, said he’s glad that the bill is still alive but he’s not optimistic that it will get the two-thirds support it needs. He has trouble understanding his colleagues’ resistance to the idea.

“I don’t know how you look yourself in the mirror and say, with all the modern technology, you can’t do the job with less people,” he said. 

RIP, L.D. 392

The Maine Municipal Association wrote an “obituary” in its latest newsletter for L.D. 392, a bill that would have ended requirements that municipalities place legal notices in newspapers.

“L.D. 392, An Act to Amend the Requirements for Publishing Municipal Legal Notices, died Monday, May 23, 2011, at 4:03 p.m. in the Senate Chamber,” the obituary reads. “L.D. 392 was the youngest in a long lineage of proposals to allow for more effective and cost-effective legal notice requirements at the local level.”

After five paragraphs of additional explanation about the bill, and the mention of a surviving “cousin,” L.D. 940, the obituary ends with an “in lieu of flowers” sentence.

“In lieu of flowers, residential, commercial and industrial property taxpayers are asked to save resources in order to continue to subsidize the state’s struggling newspaper industry,” it says. 

BOOK FEATURES MAINE CAPITOL

The State House gets “special recognition” in a book about the nation’s 50 capitols, according to the publicist for a new book called “Fifty State Capitols: The Architecture of Representative Government.”

Maine gets an extra nod for the 34 acres along the Kennebec River and for having the “first capitol park in the nation.” The manicured grounds get kudos as well.

You can find out more at www.fiftystatecapitols.com

CAMPAIGN TARGETS KATZ, ROSEN

Maine’s Majority, a group formed by some of the 61 percent of Maine voters who didn’t vote for Gov. Paul LePage in November, launched an online ad campaign during the weekend targeting the two Republican senators on the Appropriations Committee.

The group wants Richard Rosen of Bucksport and Roger Katz of Augusta to protect funds for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. LePage is proposing to eliminate all state funding for the network, about $2 million a year for the next two years.

The ads will be on newspaper websites and Facebook, according to the group. 

BUDGETED ADJOURNMENT

Legislative leaders are pushing hard for adjournment on June 8, which is one week earlier than required by statute.

That’s because the Legislature’s budget provides paychecks only through June 8. Betting pools are likely to start this week on which date is more realistic — June 8 or June 15.

In the past, pools have included prizes, or at least bragging rights, for those who have come closest to the actual time of adjournment. 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover contributed to this column.