Term Limits Lead to 'Rookie Legislatures'

Term limit laws in 15 states are gutting state legislatures of seniority and experience. Stateline.org said that Michigan, for example, will lose about three-fourths of its state senate next year.

Stateline.org pointed out

"Nationally, 378 legislators in 14 states are term-limited this year, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The list includes 194 Republicans, 180 Democrats and four from other (or no) parties. It is heavy on legislative leadership."

"House speakers are term-limited in 10 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Senate leaders, such as presidents or majority leaders, are term-limited in another 10: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Many of these leaders’ replacements, meanwhile, will be working with newcomers in the executive branch: Of the 37 governor’s seats being contested this year, 24 are open. There is a very good chance that a majority of the governors in 2011 will be just starting out in the job."

The National Conference of State Legislatures has some helpful background on term limits. Also, see this list of related court decisions.

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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