BOSTON — STATE legislatures vary in makeup and size across the country. While New Hampshire has the largest legislature with its 400 representatives and 24 senators, Alaska has the smallest with only 40 representatives and 20 senators.
``Generally speaking, the New England and eastern states tend to have large assemblies,'' says Brian Weberg, program director for legislative management of the National Conference of State Legislatures. ``But as you head out west, the size of those chambers tend to decrease a bit.''
In New England, large legislatures come from a tradition of strong local government control, says Mr. Weberg.
``It goes back to the town meeting concept in New England and that kind of very close representation and going back to the people,'' he says.
These days, however, only New Hampshire has maintained its large legislature since some states have trimmed theirs down.
Here's what the five other New England state legislatures look like:
Connecticut. At one time, Connecticut's House of Representatives had 294 members. In 1967, membership went down to 187 and in 1973, it decreased again to its current 151 members. House members are paid $19,500 yearly plus $3,500 worth of expenses which is also considered income. A House district includes approximately 22,000 people. The General Assembly meets annually, starting in January in odd years and in February in even years in the state capitol of Hartford. Connecticut has 36 state senators.
Massachusetts. Starting with the 1978 election, Massachusetts trimmed its House of Representatives by one third, from 240 members down to 160. State representatives receive $30,000 yearly plus expenses. House districts make up a population of 3,600 and the General Court meets each January in Boston. Massachusetts has 40 state senators.
Vermont. Before 1965, Vermont's House of Representatives had 246 members, but was capped at 150. Each district includes about 3,000 people. House members are paid $480 a week for 17 weeks, plus expenses. The General Assembly meets every year in January in the state capitol of Montpelier. Vermont has 30 state senators.
Maine. Maine has not changed the size of its House which includes 151 members and two nonvoting American Indian members. Representatives are paid a total of $18,500 bianually, plus expenses. Each House district includes approximately 7,800 people. The Legislature meets annually in December in even years and in odd years meets in January in Augusta, the state capitol. Maine has 35 state senators.
Rhode Island. Rhode Island's House of Representatives has 100 members who are paid $5 a day or $300 a year for 60 days plus travel expenses. The General Assembly meets annually in January in Providence. If the session lasts longer than 60 days until June or July - as it has in recent years - members are still paid only $60. Rhode Island has 50 state senators.