possible term limit changes

I really like Representative Jim Bolin’s legislative proposal to increase the number of years a legislator may serve consecutively. Currently an individual may serve 4 consecutive 2 year terms. Bolin’s proposal would allow legislators to serve up to 6 consecutive 2 year terms.

We have a very high rate of turnover in our state legislature without many of them ever reaching the point where term limits take effect. Then there are a few people who bounce from House to Senate and back to House when they reach the end of their allotted time.

An effective, experienced and respected legislator can be a great asset for a community. Eight years is a short time for legislators, especially when they are serving for only a few months a year. All legislators aren’t created equal, and a community shouldn’t have to part with someone representing them well in Pierre if the voters don’t want to rescind their support.

Term limits have made the executive branch more powerful in this state. It takes time for legislators to grow in stature and knowledge. We certainly have many legislators who are incredibly gifted, but their time in office is often cut short.

Bolin’s proposal is a great compromise for those in favor of term limits and those against.

Unrelated to Bolin’s bill: I regularly hear non-legislators suggest changing the state senate from 2 year terms to 4 year terms. There are many county commissioners and other individuals who refuse to run for an office that is only a two year term, and a change might insulate the legislature from such wild election swings.

15 Replies to “possible term limit changes”

  1. grudznick

    Mr. Bolin is a wise young man who is cut from the same cloth as many greats, and he knows of what he speaks.

  2. Anonymous

    How much turnover is a lot? Let’s see the numbers.

    How many incumbents have been defeated in the last ten years?

    How many legislators go from one chamber to the next after their terms are over?

    I disagree with the premise that there is, “a lot” of turnover.

    Most of the reps and sens have been floating around up there for a long time.

    1. Anonymous

      I left the House 4 years ago. Only 25 of the 70 members served with me. Some moved to the Senate and one had come back after a primary defeat 4 years ago. I would say that is a significant turnover.

      There should be a term limit as to how long a person can serve as a committee chair or in a specific leadership position though, to keep someone from having a committee or leadership position become his own little fiefdom. Maybe 4 years at most.

  3. 73*

    Term limits are a useless item. Many legislators never fill out their entire 8 years now.

    Look at 2010 alone. The GOP went from 20 senate seats to 30. In the House it was more of the same. The term limits are the voters.

    I support a full repeal. I believe we have better than adequate turnover now.

    Way to go Bolin! You would get my support.

  4. Anonymous

    I’ve heard people say turnover in the legislature is as high as 70% among most people not reaching term limits. So why do we need them.

  5. Anonymous

    They did not realize so many dictators were really running the people elected by the people but controlled by a few………… Why would you want to stay………….?????????????????

  6. troy jones

    I never supported term limits in the Legislature. It is already by definition a citizen body as they only meet part-time. I go back and forth on federal limits but lean toward them.

    I do not support changing Senate terms. There is already enough advantage to being a Senator (smaller chamber, better odds of being Chairman, etc.) without adding this one. Come home every two years, tell us what you did and let us judge you. In this small state, we don’t need to insulate anyone.

  7. MC Post author

    It seems to be the same people serving in the Statehouse and State Senate year after year.  Some legislators will serve two years, and then switch houses, serve two more years, then switch again.  When the same people serve on a governing body for a long periods of time, we risk them becoming something of a ruling class. Alexander Hamilton and/ or James Madison pointed this out in the Federalist papers.  The best part, they even figured out a way to ensure elected representatives, represent the people who elected them

    First. As it is essential to liberty that the government in general should have a common interest with the people, so it is particularly essential that the branch of it under consideration should have an immediate dependence on, and an intimate sympathy with, the people. Frequent elections are unquestionably the only policy by which this dependence and sympathy can be effectually secured.

    The ?system ? was designed so that one person representing an area would be sent to Pierre and serve their district for two years, then return home to his or her former job. It wasn’t designed for people to get elected and sit in the legislature for decades at a time.
    Every two years, our state senators and legislators come to us (the people) and ask us to send them back to Pierre for another two years. We the people wield the power, and our sword is the ballot box. They can be ?term limited? at any election. If for some reason the legislator have lost that intimate sympathy with us, we will send someone else.
    Who is this someone else? Why would anyone want to run? The pay is not very good. Most legislators spend more on their campaigns than what they make while serving as state legislator. In some cases legislators have to take a pay cut to serve. There are a few perks, however those are being whittled away. Of course, they get the blame for every bill that gets passed, it doesn’t matter if it was a good bill or not. Then there is the press. They get beat up on the blogs, and by the press if they get something wrong. Once it is announced, or even hint that someone might run for office, the press, and/or some bloggers will descend upon them, they will dig into every part of their background, from the time they was born. They will analyze and over analyze every word ever uttered. Why would anyone want to put themselves and their families though all of that?
    Come election time we see the ballot, in some cases it is a bunch of names. We might have seen one or two of those names on a yard sign somewhere. We vote for the name that stands out the most or just leave it blank. Because we have know idea who anyone really is.
    To prevent people from serving decades we put in place term limits. Two terms and done. That seems fair, that means other people will have a chance to sit on their district, if they want to.
    A state senator and a house member both told me they want to extend the term limits, so they can help develop some leaders. At first I thought this is a great idea. In order to be a leader, someone needs to follow. So once these leaders are developed, who are they going to lead?
    The people in their district? I think that is backasswards. The people in district tell the representative how to vote on various bill/topics Not the representative saying he how they are going to vote the people in their district are going to just have take it.
    Other Representatives? I have no right to tell my neighbor what they can or can’t do. My representative has no right to tell my neighbor’s representative how to vote. While they can share information, maybe even a little persuasion; in the end, they should they way the people in their district have asked them to vote.
    The political party? The political parties are in desperate need of some quality leadership. They someone who will holdup the GOP platform, and hold others accountable as well, at the same time honoring their responsibility to their district. This takes a level of tact that we haven’t seen in a long time.
    We don’t need more leaders, what we need is more representatives that will listen more and talk less, representatives that is more responsive to the people.
    We don’t need term limits. We don’t professional politicians. We need for the public to understand the Statehouse, and the Senate is their arm of the government.

    1. Les

      Our state limits do not limit our US congress people as originally planned, so how about living with our actions by putting this baby to bed as the voters have said, and electing leaders.

  8. Springer

    Well said above. I still say that before switching from House to Senate and vice versa a legislator should have to sit out one term. This would at least put a pause in the switcheroo now in place. We have no term limits now, we have musical chairs.

    1. MC Post author

      I don’t have a problem with a good repersentative serving several terms back to back or even playing musical chairs. However, they have to engage the public in what they are doing, and why.