Saturday, May 2, 2009



Concentration of governmental power. The unicameral system corrects the modern concentration of power in the executive and judicial branches of government. The founders lived in an age of burgeoning legislative power; hence they feared a strong legislature and sought to inhibit its ability to act. But we live in an age of executive, bureaucratic, and judicial dominance, when the problem with legislatures is infirmity, not prowess. By concentrating and increasing the authority of the legislature, the unicameral structure restores the proper balance of power among the three branches of state government.

External constraints on the legislature's power. Although the authority of legislators in a unicameral system is not limited by a second house, members are nonetheless constrained by powerful countervailing external forces: they are more accountable to the electorate; and the executive veto and judicial review remain as constitutional protections against legislative excess.

Internal constraints on power. The members of the legislature choose their leaders, and they also adopt the rules of procedure that allocate power to those leaders. Therefore, the members of a unicameral legislature can readily compensate for the absence of countervailing powers in a second house by choosing leaders carefully and by adopting rules of procedure that limit the authority and influence of leaders and committee chairs.

Legislative stability and restraint. The founders' theory of bicameral stability--in which the momentary passions of popular majorities expressed in the House would be restrained by wiser, more conservative representatives of wealth and property in the Senate--is a relic of history. For a long time now, the members of both houses of state legislatures have been chosen by and from the citizenry at large within the same voting districts, without destabilizing the legislature. There is little reason to suppose that a unicameral legislature, so chosen, is more volatile or erratic than a bicameral one.

Legislative authority. The bicameral system divides legislative authority between two houses with competing sets of members, committees, and leaders. Partitioning the legislature in this way diminishes its authority and effectiveness in dealing with the executive branch of state government and with the federal government. The unicameral structure, by concentrating legislative power in the members and leaders of one house, enhances the prestige, independence, and authority of the legislature. A strong legislature is able to deal more effectively with the governor and the executive branch and to represent the interests of the state more forcefully on the national level.

External quality controls. In our system of shared lawmaking authority, quality control does not rest with the legislature alone. The executive veto and judicial review are adequate protection against serious legislative error.



Erika Donneson said...

I'm open to further argument but my first reaction is no, I don't like unicameral. It gives too much power to cities and densely crowded suburbs over rural communities with different needs

Only people who live in rural areas know what they need. One thing they don't need is to have people with entirely different lifestyles deciding for them.

Ann said...

If the citizens of Maine cannot lose the paradigms of old, then they will ride their financial runaway train into ruin. Spending, and moreover, headcounts (a high % of the budget)at all levels of government cannot be maintained in the current economy, with dwindling school enrollments, and runaway taxation driving new business further from our borders to continue is meritless.Having your cake and eating it to is a diet to disaster.
While unicameral may or may not be the immediate answer, it fails to address runaway spending, the New England myth of local control, and most importantly declining revenue streams - the real realities the legislature fails to address.

Karen said...

I certainly like the idea of saving money which this state has not been able to accomplish in the last 8 years. Who would be the head honcho ? A newly elected Leader or will the Democrats once again know what is right for all of us. Thanks for asking the people what we want and listening to ideas. I have tried contacting my Senators ,but never any response. I will keep trying


Ron F. Rowley said...

I have created a new blog for Michigan One-House, a proposal for my state to reinvent and streamline their broken state legislature.
My proposal: one house, 76 "senators" serving 4-year terms, half elected on even-numbered and half on odd-numbered years, on a non-partisan ballot. Good luck on your Maine Unicameral. Make it better; Make it work; Make it ONE.

Danny Handelman said...

Those who reside in rural settings have been overrepresented in the federal government since its founding and in state legislatures continually due to having slower-than-average population growth (and until the 1960s, overrepresentation in the state senates). If people support equality and prioritize the future over the present or the past, they should support one person, one vote, which also means to expand the voting rights to currently disenfranchised groups (those under the age of 18, non-citizens and those deemed mentally unfit to vote, and in many states, felons and ex-felons).