Ohio House Speaker says he wants to look into eliminating term limits for state lawmakers
Members of the Ohio House and Senate have been limited to eight years in each chamber because of an amendment passed by voters in 1992. But Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) says he thinks it could be a good time to consider doing away with those limits.
Stephens said a quarter of lawmakers are new in a typical General Assembly and they need a learning curve.
“You come in and boom! You’ve got $100 million in budget to figure out in six months. And you don’t even know where the bathrooms are," Stephens said.
Stephens said the current experience means fewer lawmakers with experience in difficult subjects. And he noted some lawmakers switch between the two chambers in order to get long tenures in state leadership.
“I’m not saying you get rid of term limits altogether but does eight years and being able to switch back and forth, is that really helpful for Ohio? I think that’s a fair question to ask," said Stephens.
One of the selling points of term limits was that it would keep lawmakers from making a career out of being a politician and potentially getting too much power. But opponents of term limits say they have emboldened lobbyists who have more sway with inexperienced legislators.
As it took voters to approve the term limits constitutional amendment, changing it would also take a constitutional amendment. Lawmakers can propose amendments, as they did with Issue 1 in August, which would have raised the threshold to approve future amendments to 60% of voters.
Republican former speaker Larry Householder had raised the issue of term limits before the nuclear power plant bailout scandal broke. He was planning to put an issue on the 2020 ballot that would put a 16-year lifetime term limit for state lawmakers, regardless of chamber - but because that would start in 2021, it would have allowed Householder to stay in House leadership for potentially that long.