13 November, 2006

Term Limits Special Report

"Are career politicians bad for the country? Proponents of term limits think so, and 18 states have passed laws automatically forcing longtime legislators out of office – even if voters want to reelect them.

Congressional efforts to limit the terms of members of the House and Senate died out in early 1997, but limits for members of state assemblies are flourishing. In 1996, term limits required 52 state legislators to leave office. Last year, more than 200 were forced to retire from statehouses across the country. The impact was felt hardest in the Arkansas and Michigan legislatures: Half of Arkansas's 100 members and 67 of Michigan's 110 served their final terms.

Along with the record turnover came a record number of newcomers with little or no political experience. Opponents of term limits argue that such inexperience will hurt voters, as rookie legislators find it hard to navigate the bureaucracy. They say limits force out well-regarded politicians who have formed strong ties with their constituents and erode democracy by taking away voters' rights to choose their representative."


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