Elimination of Term Limits for State Legislatures: In Order to Restore the Effectiveness of Legislatures and an Evenly Distributed Separation of Powers, Term Limit Legislation Needs to Be Repealed in States That Have Adopted It
Hanenkrat, Kaley, O'Gorman, Katharine, Policy Studies Journal
Currently, state legislatures are term-limited in Maine, California, Colorado, Arkansas, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, South Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana, and Nevada. Proponents of term limit legislation argue that term limits will create more openness to political office while reducing the effects of campaigning on the representatives. They believe that legislators who have limited time in the government will spend more time on creating legislation than bring "pork" to their districts. However, these reforms have fallen short of their original intentions. Instead, these laws have created ineffective legislatures, failed to promote minority representation, and distorted the separation of powers in our democracy.
During the 1990s government reform proponents argued for term limitations in state legislatures. While the structures of the law varied across states, representatives only allowed to serve in office for a certain number of years. The goals of these reforms were to reduce the impact of elections on legislatures, and open up the government for more "citizen" representatives. Term limitation laws were adopted in 21 diverse states. However, these laws held unforeseen consequences, leading to their repeal in Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Currently, South Dakota is also considering repealing its term limit laws; this will be voted on in the November 2008 election.
Legislatures without term limitations will become more efficient and effective because of a revitalization of legislative professionalism. Term limits decrease the desirability to pursue a long-term career in politics. As a result, members of state legislatures are inexperienced and are unable to develop the expertise needed for the office. Also, these new members reintroduce defeated bills, which remain unlikely to pass, therefore slowing down the legislative process. In addition, legislative leaders are forcibly removed from office, resulting in an amateur, and inefficient legislative branch. This, in turn, distorts the separation of powers scheme, so crucial to the American democracy. A weak and inefficient legislature results in inflated powers in the executive branch. Senator Bill Napoli R-Rapid City, South Dakota, comments, "I thought term limits made sense. What they have done is weaken the legislative branch in comparison to the governor's office and the lobbyists, and they've hurt the legislature's ability to have strong leaders." As Napoli explains, term limits place power in the hands of unelected lobbyists and legislative staffers, who, unlike the new …
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Publication information: Article title: Elimination of Term Limits for State Legislatures: In Order to Restore the Effectiveness of Legislatures and an Evenly Distributed Separation of Powers, Term Limit Legislation Needs to Be Repealed in States That Have Adopted It. Contributors: Hanenkrat, Kaley - Author, O'Gorman, Katharine - Author. Journal title: Policy Studies Journal. Volume: 36. Issue: 4 Publication date: November 2008. Page number: 695+. © 1999 Policy Studies Organization. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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