Population growth sparks proposal for third U.S. senator in Florida

Florida and other heavily populated states should have three U.S. senators, a pair of Democratic lawmakers proposed Thursday.

State Sen. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, and Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, want the Republican-dominated Legislature to ask Congress to propose a U.S. constitutional amendment that would add a senator for each state with a population of at least 6 million.

“The United States Senate has become extremely malapportioned to the degree that soon 30 percent of the country’s population will elect 70 percent of the members of the United States Senate,” Berman’s proposal (SM 1652) said. “Conversely 70 percent of the country’s population will elect only 30 percent of the members of the United States Senate, a disparity fraught with unhappy consequences for the vast majority of the country’s population, which will be almost powerless to address many pressing issues for the overwhelming number of urban and suburban residents of the United States.”

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The Senate was created with its current allocation of two senators for each state as the founding fathers sought to get support for the Constitution from smaller states. Berman contends in her proposal that when the Constitution was drafted, the population disparity between large states, such as Virginia, and small states, such as Delaware and Rhode Island, was about 10 to 1.

Now, with California at 40 million people, Texas at 29 million and Florida at nearly 22 million, that ratio between some states “is closer to 100 to 1, something undreamed of by the founding fathers,” the proposal said.

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Florida’s estimated population stood at just under 21.48 million as of July 1, a nearly 1.1 percent increase from a year earlier, according to the Census Bureau’s national and state population figures released Dec. 30.