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Proposal to shrink Legislature is defeated

Chautauqua County lawmakers have again decided against reducing the size of the Legislature.

After some debate Wednesday night, lawmakers defeated a proposed local law to reduce the number of Legislature members from 25 to 19.

Legislature Chairman Keith D. Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk, who co-sponsored the proposed law, said the outcome was somewhat surprising to him.

"I've been in favor of it, and I think this is the third time around for me in proposing this . . . I think that the taxpayers want a smaller Legislature."

Ahlstrom said he was also disappointed because many citizens groups and others have called for the Legislature to reduce its size. Proponents say that all other areas of county government have had to streamline operations, and so should the Legislature.

In other business, lawmakers:

Agreed to table a proposed local law that would phase out their health insurance benefits by 2008.The proposal by Ahlstrom and Legislator Maria M. Kindberg, D-Jamestown, would reduce benefits gradually over the next three years until they are eliminated.

Took no action on a proposed local law to require that contractors who bid on major county construction projects have an apprenticeship program.

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