Freshman state lawmakers Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) and Mike Jones (R-York) unveiled their proposal to enact term limits for members of the state House and Senate.
The measure seeks to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to limit a member of the General Assembly to 12 consecutive years of service in each chamber. That equates to six consecutive two-year terms for House members and three consecutive four-year terms for senators.
“It is such an honor to have been elected to the state House, and we most certainly recognize and appreciate the hard work and dedication of our fellow lawmakers who have served and continue to serve our Commonwealth so well,” the lawmakers said. “However, we respectfully believe the time has come for Pennsylvania to begin a thoughtful and phased transition to a term-limited legislature.
“We think our proposal strikes the right balance between the desire to bring new voices to serve in government and the need to preserve institutional knowledge that ensures the effective operation of the General Assembly,” they added. “The voters deserve the opportunity to weigh in on this important change to our Constitution.”
Under the proposal, time in office prior to approval of the amendment by the electorate would not be considered when calculating the limitation on terms. A member who reaches the maximum number of terms may seek election to the same chamber after a hiatus of one term.
The lawmakers believe the change would help foster a legislative environment where ideas, work ethic, and leadership merit become keys to success and influence in both chambers. The also say it will boost lawmakers’ credibility with the people they represent by empowering voters to choose, through a referendum, whether they prefer to be served by a term-limited legislature.
In order to amend the state Constitution, identical bills must pass both the House and Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions. A ballot question is then put before the voters in a referendum.
If enacted, Pennsylvania would join 15 other states, including Arizona, Florida, and Ohio, in promoting a citizen-legislature where new voices and perspectives are constantly introduced, and where legislators remain “in touch” with the everyday realities faced by those in the private sector.
“One of the cornerstones of my campaign for the state House was my commitment to introduce a term limits bill within my first 100 days of service,” Lewis said. “I am proud to have met that commitment and will continue to work with my colleagues to build support for a change I believe is necessary for the future success of our Commonwealth.”