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Texas House to debate term limits

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May 15, 2013

By Andy Marshall


AUSTIN, Texas: The Texas House of Representatives is set today to consider a proposed constitutional amendment to limit future governors and other statewide elected officials to two consecutive terms of office. If passed, the amendment would go before Texas voters as a referendum on November 5, 2013. The proposal would not apply to Governor Rick Perry and other present holders of these offices.[1] If the referendum passed, Texas would join the 36 other states which presently have various forms of term limits.

Senator Kevin Eltife (R) authored Senate Joint Resolution 13, and the measure currently has 14 co-authors, including 7 Republicans (John Carona, Bob Deuell, Jane Nelson, Robert Nichols, Dan Patrick, Charles Schwertner, and Kel Seliger) and 7 Democrats (Wendy Davis, Rodney Ellis, Juan Hinojosa, Eddie Lucio, Carlos Uresti, Leticia Van de Putte, and Kirk Watson). SJR 13 would not apply to judicial offices. Terms served by present officeholders and partial terms served to by appointeees to fill vacancies would not be counted toward the two consecutive term maximum, and individuals could be elected or appointed to more than two terms as long as they don't serve more than two consecutive terms. The official text of the referendum question which would go before voters reads as follows: "The constitutional amendment limiting to two the number of consecutive terms for which a person may be elected or appointed to hold the office of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, comptroller of public accounts, commissioner of the General Land Office, attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, or railroad commissioner."[2] SJR 13 was filed on December 5 of last year. After unanimous approval by the State Affairs Committee, the amendment was passed by the Texas Senate on March 19 by a 27-4 vote. The House State Affairs Committee favorably reported SJR 13 back to the full House on April 17.[3]

Governor Perry is the longest serving governor in office today, serving since then-Governor George W. Bush resigned in 2000. Perry, an opponent of term limits, met with Representative Lyle Larson, SJR 13's House sponsor, in April for what Larson described as a "spirited" discussion of their disagreements.[4] The governor is expected to announce in June whether or not he will seek a fourth term.

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