State Rep. Ryan Haynes told the Knox County Commission that the possibility of a bill imposing term limits on school board members getting through the Legislature are poor, reports the News Sentinel. Haynes, R-Knoxville, told the commission that a Tennessee law allowing term limits for school board members would be subject to general application across the state (not just limited to Knox County).
“And that, in my opinion, presents a challenge in getting a piece of legislation passed,” Haynes said during a commission work session. Commission uses work sessions to discuss future action items. The body’s next legislative meeting is June 24.
A 15-bill limit that caps what legislators can introduce is another block on term limits, he said.
“We want to use it on something that is productive,” he said.
Commission Vice Chairman R. Larry Smith was not pleased to hear Haynes’ message.
“Personally, I think those are lame excuses,” he said. “I think it can be done.”
Haynes replied he wasn’t offering his own opinion.
“This is what my lawyers drew up,” he said.
Scottie Mayfield promised Thursday to serve no more than 10 years if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making a pledge his top opponents recently refused or evaded, according to the Chattanooga TFP. Mayfield campaign spokesman Joe Hendrix said his boss decided to address term limits after reflecting on prior conversations with members of Congress.
“They told him they’d like to support certain legislation or initiatives, but choose not to vote for [them] because it would hurt their re-election,” Hendrix said. “Having term limits … creates the opportunity to vote for what the member believes is right.”
…Fleischmann is seeking his second term. In a May 21 debate, he avoided a direct question about a term-limits pledge, saying that elections every two years already make House members accountable to voters.
Weston Wamp, another Republican challenging Fleischmann, said at the debate that he would not make a term-limits pledge.
“I will serve in Congress as long as I am passionate about waking up every morning and doing the people’s work,” he said.
It took about three minutes to deftly destroy the latest effort to impose term limits on state legislators. The maneuver, accomplished with bipartisan collaboration, assures that no term limits can be put in place for another decade or so and that there’s really no record of anyone being against the idea.
The effort was HJR625, crafted by Rep. Art Swann, R-Maryville, with a good bit of thought. Basically, it provided that state representatives — in exchange for term limits — would have their term of office changed from two years to four years, then be limited to serving no more than three terms or 12 years.
Swan brought the bill before the House State and Local Government Subcommittee last week and gave a brief explanation. Whereupon House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said the measure seemed to have some merit, but also raised questions and declared it needed to be studied. He thereupon made a motion that the proposal be sent to “summer study.”
Rep. Art Swann’s push for term limits on state representatives was effectively killed by the same subcommittee Wednesday. On motion of House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, the panel voted to assign the bill to a “summer study.”
Swann, R-Maryville, has proposed term limits as an amendment to the state constitution with an eye toward having it on the statewide ballot in 2014. Because of the rules for adopting constitutional amendments, the subcommittee action effectively assures it cannot be put to a vote any earlier now than in 2018.
“It’s hard to get people to make a decision to work themselves out of a job,” said Swann afterwards.
Swann said he had been optimistic about advancing the measure in the 107th General Assembly, which concludes this year, but some colleagues who had indicated they would support HJR625 had changed their minds.
Rep. Art Swann, R-Maryville, says some colleagues have urged him not to push for a vote on a plan that could impose a 12-year term limit on service in the state House, but he plans to move forward anyway.
Swann’s proposal, HJR625, filed Feb. 1, proposes an amendment to the state constitution that would increase the term for a state representative from two years to four years, but then impose a three-term limit in consecutive service.
Under the plan, if the Legislature approves, the question of amending the constitution would go before voters in the 2014 election and then, if approved in the referendum, take effect for legislators elected in the 2016 elections.
Straightforward term limits for legislators have been proposed several times in the past, but never reached the point of a floor vote. Swann said his proposal, by coupling longer terms with the limits, should have a better chance.
Also, the plan calls for implementing term limits on a phased-in basis “so you don’t end up flushing everybody out all at once,” he said.
Further, he said, he addresses concerns voiced by opponents of term limits about losing “institutional knowledge” since the proposed amendment would not apply to state senators.
The idea of term limits, Swann said, is highly popular “with the people who elect us” in the general public and among many legislators, “particularly freshman Republicans. Still, there is enough opposition among other lawmakers – such as those asking him not to push for a vote – to make passage “an uphill battle.”
Swann said he intends to put the proposal “on notice” for a vote in committee next week.
An attempt to set term limits for state legislators has been soundly defeated in the Senate Judicary Committee.
The proposal by Republican Sen. Mike Faulk of Kingsport, SJR008, would have begun the process of amending the state constitution to restrict state representatives to four two-year terms and state senators to two four year terms, or eight years total for each.
Faulk contended that term limits would help legislators vote on the basis of principles, rather than popularity. It would also “encourage turnover and a fresh set of ideas,” he said. He noted that eight years is the same term limit now in place for governors and the United States president.
But other senators spoke against the idea of term limits.
Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, said term limits would tend to lead to a professional legislative staff that would “run the Legislature” rather than elected representatives.
Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, said elections already provide term limits. About 60 of 99 state representatives and 13 of current state senators have served less than six years, he said, indicating term limits are unneeded in Tennessee.
“I don’t know what problem we’re trying to fix,” he said.
Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, at one point offered an amendment to set the term limits at a total of 12 years, three terms for senators and six for representatives The amendment failed.
On the bill itself, only Campfield voted yes while seven senators voted no. Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, who had seconded Campfield’s motion for passage, did not vote. UPDATE: A similar term limits bill, HJR62 by Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, failed on a voice vote later in the day in the House State and Local Government Subcommittee.