A state Senate committee debated a measure Monday to limit terms for Georgia House and Senate members to 12 years total, as well as doubling the term for state senators from two to four years.
A constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, would set term limits for state House members at six two-year terms and for senators at three four-year terms. The limits would kick in starting after the 2024 elections.
Currently, both House and Senate lawmakers in Georgia have unlimited recourse to seeking two-year terms. Dolezal’s resolution would also limit Georgia’s lieutenant governor to two four-year terms instead of the current unlimited tenure.
“Term limits are something that have bipartisan support in every state of the union,” Dolezal told members of the Senate Government Oversight Committee Monday.
“The only thing that people seem to agree on is that we should come down here, accomplish our work [and] have it be a season of our life as opposed to perhaps the entire book of our life.”
No votes were taken on the constitutional-amendment on Monday. If it clears committee, both chambers in the General Assembly would have to pass it by a two-thirds vote. It would then be placed on the ballot for Georgia voters to decide.
The resolution met with pushback Monday from freshman state Sen. Nikki Merritt, D-Grayson, who argued term-limited state lawmakers might be more swayed by lobbyists during their final years in office without the incentive of seeking reelection.
“To me, they’d just be more indebted to lobbyists,” Merritt said. “I just don’t feel like they would be as motivated toward the end of their terms to serve their constituents as effectively.”
Dolezal said his resolution aims to oust career politicians from the state Capitol and curb the “influences with an outsized advantage” when wealthy groups and lobbyists back long-tenured state lawmakers who gain political influence over the years.
This story originally attributed a quote incorrectly to Sen. Sonya Halpern. It has been revised to correctly attribute the quote to Sen. Nikki Merritt.