A bill limiting House and Senate leadership to four consecutive, two-year terms cleared a House panel Wednesday, even though some members expressed concern about it.
House Bill 182 is similar to other bills that have previously passed the House, but died in Senate committees, said the bill’s primary sponsor, Republican Rep. Harry Warren of Rowan County. The bill would put a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot allowing voters to decide if the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate should be subject to serving a maximum of eight consecutive years.
Rep. Grier Martin, a Wake County Democrat, was concerned that term limits on legislative leadership could hurt the strength of the General Assembly in negotiations with the governor.
Warren said turnover in leadership could happen at any time because lawmakers “don’t have job security,” and said he didn’t see the power balance as a concern. Rep. Sarah Stevens, a Surry County Republican, said the bill doesn’t put term limits on legislators outside of their leadership roles, so the negotiation powers would remain as long as lawmakers stay. She said the bill would allow for new ideas and keep lawmakers engaged.
Rep. Graig Meyer, a Democrat from Orange County, questioned why the proposal uses consecutive terms instead of lifetime terms. Meyer said the consecutive terms would allow someone to take a few years off and come back to the position.
The committee approved the bill on a vote of 7-1, with Meyer the only “no” vote.
Warren has also introduced legislation to limit lawmakers to three, four-year terms. That bill has yet to be heard in committee.