Should State Senators Serve Four Year Terms?

December 6, 2013 16:38 pm

by Jon Richards · 29 comments

Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) thinks they should, and what’s more, he thinks Senators should be term-limited.

In anticipation of the upcoming legislative session, Dugan has pre filed Senate Resolution 734, which, if enacted into law would do just that.

Under Dugan’s propsal, four year terms for the Senate would start in January 2017, after the 2016 elections. Term limits would also be imposed. From the bill:

Beginning with the members elected in the November, 2016, general election, members of the Senate shall be limited to the greater of three full terms of office or 14 years in the Senate. The limitation in this subparagraph shall not apply to any term or part of a term served prior to the second Monday in January, 2017.

If the bill passes both chambers, it would have to be approved by the voters, presumably in the November 2014 general election.

Anthony M. Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) December 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Gov’s signature not needed. Just 2/3 of each chamber. MT @peachpundit: Should State Senators Serve 4 yr Terms? http://t.co/cA2gzs6fxc #gapol

Jon Richards December 6, 2013 at 5:20 pm

I updated the post to reflect this.

Rick Day December 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Yes. Term limits make total sense. Which is why certain self serving SOB’s will never allow it.

@johnpezold December 6, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Should State Senators Serve Four Year Terms? — Peach Pundit http://t.co/W5mJy4DNDQ

Charlie December 6, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Help me out here.

If I recall, the 2 year terms came in with the new GA Constitution, partially to break up the last vestiges of the County Unit system by requiring redistricting of Senate Seats every 10 years.

If you decide you’re going to move Senators to 4 year terms, then either you redistrict on alternating 8 and 12 year terms? And if (as has been proposed in the past) half the Senators are elected every two years, what do you do with the Senators who are redistricted in mid-term?

I don’t see this addressed in my quick skimming of the bill. It seems more than a trivial concern to make this work.

Jon Richards December 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I didn’t see any mention in the bill of staggering Senate terms, so at least for the moment, that wouldn’t be an issue. But your point is well-taken.

Dave Bearse December 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm

4 years Senate terms, staggered or not, are the general state standard, with four year stagger being the decided plurality. Breakdown by number of states:

12 – two year terms (Includes all 7 New England states, making two year terms characteristically Yankee. AZ, GA, ID, NC and SD are the other five.)
8 – two-four-four year terms
10 – four year terms without stagger
20 – four year terms staggered (including unicameral NE)

http://ballotpedia.org/Length_of_terms_of_state_senators

Dave Bearse December 8, 2013 at 7:38 pm

4 year House terms on the other hand, are a very limited phenomena found mainly in the South, and especially only the deep South: AL, LA, MD, MS, ND.

http://ballotpedia.org/Length_of_terms_of_state_representatives

saltycracker December 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Term limits are needed under any formula not exceeding 8 years in office.
To suggest the bureaucrats will take over concludes that who we elect is lacking common sense and the ability to manage the information the bureaucrats put on the table.

Redistricting should be primarily mathematical based on population within communities, zip codes, cities, counties, trade areas……where people want to live and be governed not by some fluid political opinion.

Will Durant December 6, 2013 at 6:32 pm

If 4 year terms mean less scrounging for “campaign funds” then I’m all for it. Somehow I don’t think this will be the case however.

NoTeabagging December 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Agree. Anything to slow down the annoying, endless campaign cycle.

South Fulton Guy December 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Term limits seem to be a great idea, but proponents ignore the reality that legislators WILL NEVER pass legislation to limit their terms.

MattMD December 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm

As long as the term limits are not too short, it might not be a bad idea. California recently tweaked their state government term limits because once their legislators become effective at their jobs, they were no longer eligible for office.

Here is a point people often forget: it does take some time to learn of ropes of government.

saltycracker December 7, 2013 at 8:02 am

Ropes woven into a complex web by the “entitled” representatives that will not let go voluntarily.

griftdrift December 7, 2013 at 12:08 am

This comes up every few years. Won’t pass. House won’t go for it.

South Fulton Guy December 7, 2013 at 8:47 am

bingo

benevolus December 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm

OK, can I just back up a second? What problem is this supposed to fix? Corruption? Incumbent advantage?
If those are the problems, why don’t we fix those problems? Instead of term limits, make a stronger ethics organization. Change campaign rules to minimize the advantage. Why should districts with good legislators they like have to give them up to because somebody ELSE didn’t act right?

saltycracker December 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Kinda like saying why can’t we all get along. They can write all the ethics rules they want but with a phalanx of lobbyists and minions, developed after a few terms, they are above the rules. And find all kinds of excuses and end arounds on the ones they have.

Questions for our legislators not directed to you:
How about if you have outstanding taxes, you can’t vote on taxpayer matters nor run for public office ? (a promise or court order is not a paid in full bill)
How about if you are in litigation with the industry you oversee from congress, you must suspend service on the oversight committee ?
How about you must adhere to the policies of your office ?

Good legislators (as defined by their constituents) can run for a different office, hopefully a more influential one.

benevolus December 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Yes but implementing term limits to solve corruption is like… I don’t know, using a screwdriver to make a cake. It’s not going to work. It’s a pretend fix that doesn’t work AND restricts choices. Doubly bad in my opinion.

drjay December 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm

you’ve clearly never had my screwdriver cake…

analogkid December 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Terms limits are dumb.

My solution (which also won’t happen) is to raise legislator pay by 2-3 times the current level. Right now the pay is de minimis, and that means the job is only attractive to the wealthy, the megalomaniacs, or those that wish to change laws to their own financial benefit. There are exceptions of course (e.g., Buzz), but they’re vastly outnumbered.

Raising the pay would encourage competition, which is something Republicans are supposed to like. It would also allow more everyday people to serve.

If legislators are concerned with the optics of raising their own pay, then make the law effective in 2018 or thereabouts. Better yet, make it effective in 2014 but only apply to those that haven’t served in the past five years.

Finally, I’d index the salaries for inflation annually, so that this issue doesn’t have to come up again for a long time.

DeKalb Wonkette December 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Anything we can do to help lawmakers legislate for the long term rather than short election windows would be a good thing. The two year terms = two year thinking. Term limits = thinking only until the limit.

As for pay, I used to think that raising it would make a difference in getting good candidates to run. But when we look at states with full time, well-compensated state lawmakers it’s hard to make a case that they do any better.

benevolus December 8, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Well, if you think about it, the low pay and the session being in January was because (my understanding) it was expected that farmers would be the ones who served. So the system is designed to attract a certain kind of legislator. If that design is no longer attracting who we want, perhaps we should re-design the system based on who we DO want to serve.

Rambler14 December 9, 2013 at 7:19 am

Would term limits increase or decrease corruption?

I remember hearing Erick speak about them one time saying that the would increase corruption, due to the 2nd term “Hell, I have nothing to lose at this point” effect.

saltycracker December 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Term limits decrease the intoxication of the elected with their position driven by career influencers such as lobbyists and the well connected. Nothing to lose suggests the person goes into office of weak character and I believe it is a corrosive political process.

It is a rarity to have a visionary leader acting in the best interest of all the people. Look no further than the approval ratings to decide this issue.

If the elected is worthy, he/she can move up the chain.

Patrick T. Malone December 9, 2013 at 8:48 am

If you have an experienced, effective, ethical legislator why would you want to limit his/her service. It seems to me the ballot box already provides for term limits but voter disengagement and apathy permit poor legislators to continue in place. Term limit proposals will only change the faces not the quality of our legislature. Quality depends on voter engagement and knowledge.

@TransAnarchist December 9, 2013 at 9:35 am

Thoughts? “Should State Senators Serve Four Year Terms? — Peach Pundit” http://t.co/wcueGx1Pmx

saltycracker December 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm

PT
Idealistic and well meaning but have to disagree from a mathematical, human nature and historical view.

benevolus December 9, 2013 at 3:01 pm

No idea what you mean. What math? What human nature? What history?

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