Bill which would term limit members of the General Assembly fails in committee

03/12/2018 06:04 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would have proposed a constitutional amendment limiting incoming members of the General Assembly to 16 years failed to muster enough votes to pass in committee on Monday.

House Bill 73, sponsored by Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R-Elizabethtown, would have limited Senators to four, 4-year terms and House members to eight, 2-year terms.

The rule would not have applied to current members already serving in the General Assembly, but only new members who are elected in November 2018.

After sitting out 2 years, any former legislator would be eligible to run once again.

Duplessis feels that 16 years is long enough for any legislator to get their work done and then turn it over to some “fresh blood”.

“It gives the process to get a fresh person in the seat to see if the people like that person,” DuPlessis said. “I believe that term limits is a strong start to getting money and power out of politics,” DuPlessis said.

Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, who has served in the General Assembly since 2003, voted against the legislation saying that having lawmakers will a lot of experience isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“When you have people who have served, you have a lot of institutional knowledge, and I think if you look at what happened in Arkansas, they put a term limit, I think it was 6 for the House and 8 for the Senate, and they begin to lose institutional knowledge, and the people of voted to change that, which would allow them to serve a longer period of time,” Graham said.

DuPlessis responded by saying that Graham’s Arkansas comparison would not apply to his bill because it would have called for the opportunity to serve for more years in the General Assembly.

“Institutional knowledge is a key, I agree,” DuPlessis said. “That’s why this is 16 years.

Rep. Wesley Morgan, R-Richmond, who joined the House in January 2017, voiced support for the legislation saying that veteran legislators, in his opinion, have too much control over the newer members.

“The problem is once we get up here, especially if you’re a freshman, all of the sudden, it ain’t about your people anymore, it’s not about your 45,000 people that you represent, it’s about where you fit in to the 100 member membership, and that is controlled 100 percent by people who have been here forever,” Morgan said.

The final vote count was 8 yes, 3 no and 2 passes, but the legislation needed a minimum of 9 votes to pass.

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