The Effects of Term Limits
Karl Kurtz
National Conference of State Legislatures
Term Limit Provisions
Limit in Years Consecutive Limit Lifetime Limit
6 House/8 Senate AR, MI
8 Total NE
8 House/8 Senate ...
Turnover and Term Limits:
Membership Change in Houses
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
1968 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92...
The Experience Gap
Percent of Members in Each Chamber With at Least Five
Years Experience at Start of Next Session
-10
0
1...
The “Burkean Shift”
0 1 2 3 4
Talk to constituents
Solve constituent problems
Seek district projects
Send mailings
NTL Sta...
Legislators’ Knowledge
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3
Statewide issues
Process
Committee issues
NTL States
TL States
“Legislators tod...
House to Senate Movement
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
1994 1996 1998 2000 2002
6-8 yr. TL
12-yr. TL
NTL
Experience of House Speakers in TL
Legislatures
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
AZ AR CA CO ME OH Avg.
Averageyearsofservice
3 Pre-...
Power Shifts over 10 Yrs.
-1
-0.8
-0.6
-0.4
-0.2
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
AZ AR CA CO ME OH IL IN KS
Governor Agencies
TL State...
Summary: Effects of Term Limits
• Vary depending on type of legislature
• Loss of experienced legislators
– Less knowledge...
Limits on Leaders’ Terms
Years By Custom By Rule By Statute
2 Florida House
Florida Senate
North Dakota House
South Dakota...
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The Effects of Term Limits

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Karl Kurtz
National Conference of State Legislatures

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The Effects of Term Limits

  1. 1. The Effects of Term Limits Karl Kurtz National Conference of State Legislatures
  2. 2. Term Limit Provisions Limit in Years Consecutive Limit Lifetime Limit 6 House/8 Senate AR, MI 8 Total NE 8 House/8 Senate AZ, CO, FL, ME, MT, OH, SD MO 12 Total CA, OK 12 House/12 Senate LA NV
  3. 3. Turnover and Term Limits: Membership Change in Houses 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 1968 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 2000 2 4 6 8 10 percent House Turnover in Term-Limited and Non-Term-Limited States TL States NTL States Source: Gary Moncrief, Richard G. Niemi and Lynda W. Powell, "Turnover in State Legislatures: An Update," Western Political Science Association, March 22-25, 2008 Term limit enactment period
  4. 4. The Experience Gap Percent of Members in Each Chamber With at Least Five Years Experience at Start of Next Session -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 6-yr TL 8-yr TL No TL Source: Gary Moncrief, Richard G. Niemi and Lynda W. Powell, "Turnover in State Legislatures: An Update," Western Political Science Association, March 22-25, 2008
  5. 5. The “Burkean Shift” 0 1 2 3 4 Talk to constituents Solve constituent problems Seek district projects Send mailings NTL States TL States “Legislators today compared to a decade ago… Scale: 1 (Much less time) to 5 (Much more time)
  6. 6. Legislators’ Knowledge 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 Statewide issues Process Committee issues NTL States TL States “Legislators today compared to a decade ago… Scale: 1 (Much less knowledgeable) to 5 (Much more knowledgeable)
  7. 7. House to Senate Movement 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 6-8 yr. TL 12-yr. TL NTL
  8. 8. Experience of House Speakers in TL Legislatures 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 AZ AR CA CO ME OH Avg. Averageyearsofservice 3 Pre-TL Spkrs Post-TL Spkrs Source: Joint Project on Term Limits
  9. 9. Power Shifts over 10 Yrs. -1 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 AZ AR CA CO ME OH IL IN KS Governor Agencies TL States Control States Score of Zero Indicates “about the same.” ExecutiveGainsLegislativeGains Source: JPTL Knowledgeable Observer Survey, 2003
  10. 10. Summary: Effects of Term Limits • Vary depending on type of legislature • Loss of experienced legislators – Less knowledge of substantive issues – Less institutional knowledge – More chaotic legislatures • No effect on who is elected • Less attention to constituents • Senates have more experience • Governors gained power
  11. 11. Limits on Leaders’ Terms Years By Custom By Rule By Statute 2 Florida House Florida Senate North Dakota House South Dakota House Wyoming House Arkansas Senate Wyoming Senate 4 Kansas House Kansas Senate Oklahoma House 6 Connecticut House Maine House Maine Senate 8 Massachusetts House Massachusetts Senate

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