Today I signed onto Representative Michael Caldwell’s bill calling for consecutive term limits. HR 5 would provide for term limits for members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The terms would be served for a maximum of four terms (eight years), then the individual would have to take one term off before they could run again.
From Representative Caldwell:
There are two basic types of term limits: Absolute Term Limits and Consecutive Term Limits.
Absolute Term Limits limit the number of terms a person could hold a specific office in their life. One of the most notable examples of absolute term limits includes the President of the United States of America. The 22nd amendment states that “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice…”
Consecutive Term Limits limit the number of terms a person can hold an office in a row. Once that limit has been reached, they may not run for the same office again until the following term.
The American people have seen the effectiveness of term limits as a control over corruption with our President and the majority of our Governors. This measure would extend the same controls that we see fit in the Executive Branch to our Legislature, which many other States have already implemented.
HR 5 proposes consecutive term limits for the Georgia House of Representatives and the State Senate. The legislation states that an individual can be elected 4 consecutive terms, but must take one term off at least once a decade.
It should never be forgotten that a representative’s seat belongs to the people. Some elected officials I have spoken to have told me that they have earned their incumbency advantage. When an individual believes that they have a right to their elected title, they begin to lose sight of what it means to represent the people. This is the attitude held by many career politicians, not citizen legislators.
However, when the people really believe that they’ve found a great representative, we should not make it impossible for that person to ever run for office again. That would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. With consecutive term limits, we take away the incumbency advantage once a decade. After that, a previous representative can earn back the title of representative once more.
On another note, consecutive term limits help to level the playing field financially as well. Incumbents sometimes have hundreds of thousands of dollars on hand. This can be a daunting challenge for new opposition. How does a fresh face compete against an incumbent with that kind of money? While great ideas and strong work ethic go a long way, some newcomers may turn to lobbyists contributions and out of state dollars to fund their campaigns. This has the potential to strip the power from the people and creates less accountable government. When a representative has to take two years away from their elected position, there is a more level playing field which incentivizes greater competition and stronger candidates. After two years, the people can re-elect a previous representative if they still think they’re the right person for the job. The people are the ultimate winners.