Montana Senate passes bill that would tighten term limits

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March 29, 2013


By Tyler King

HELENA, Montana: The Montana State Senate passed an amended version of House Bill 277 (timed out) on March 22, 2013, which would change state legislative term limits in Montana from consecutive to lifetime. The Senate changed a provision from the original bill that would allow a legislator who has served 16 years to run for office again after sitting out for an additional eight years. The Senate version would enforce a lifetime limit of 16 years of service in the Montana State Legislature. The bill passed the Senate with a 37-13 vote and now moves back to the House where it must be approved before appearing on the ballot in 2014.[1]

Lifetime versus consecutive

In the nine states where the limits are consecutive, once a state legislator has served the maximum number of terms in office, he or she, if eligible, can run for office for the state's other legislative chamber, or leave the legislature. After a period of time no longer in office in a particular legislative chamber, however, the legislator is allowed to run again for office in that legislative chamber. The period of time that a legislator must be out of office before being able to run again is usually two years.

In six of the 15 states with limits on state legislators, the limit is a lifetime limit. These states are Arkansas, California, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada and Oklahoma. In these states, once a legislator has served the maximum allowable number of terms in a particular legislative chamber, they may never again run for or hold office in that particular chamber.

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