Based on our limited experience at the state level, the answer is probably no.
Several studies have examined the effects of state legislative term limits, and the findings are not promising. Consider the following. In spite of more open seats being produced through forced turnover, electoral competition has not increased — some data even show that competition has diminished — and voter turnout has not expanded.
In seats that are not term-limited, incumbents mostly go unchallenged, or face only token opposition. Legislator reliance on outside lobby groups for funds and information has increased, thereby augmenting the influence of special interests to the potential detriment of the public’s interest. Without the threat of defeat at the ballot box, term-limited lawmakers are much less likely to respond to constituent concerns.
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Inexperienced legislators in key leadership positions, e.g., committee chairs, are less able to broker compromise. Finally, term limits have led to a loss of institutional knowledge in the legislatures — thereby strengthening the policymaking power of permanent executive bureaucracies.
The framers did not advocate term limits for any federal officials; despite some reservations, they believed the ultimate term limit was the people's vote. Recent events seem to support the wisdom in this thinking. When voters are mobilized and holding politicians accountable at town halls and the ballot box, policymakers listen, and change occurs. The tea party successes in 2010, the current "Resist/Indivisible" movement, and even President Trump's election, exemplify this enormous power of the people.
When citizens are complacent, government is unresponsive and democracy suffers.
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Rob Baker, Ph.D., teaches political science at Wittenberg University and is one of our regular community contributors.
Several studies have examined the effects of state legislative term limits, and the findings are not promising.