State Term Limits

Current Term Limits Battles

Over the last twenty years, term limits has been one of the most widely debated issues across the nation.  Americans have become sick of their local politicians who are seeking nothing more than to hold a seat for twenty years, until they have a shot at running for Congress.

In fifteen states across America, citizens have voted overwhelmingly to place term limits on their state legislatures.  Two of these states have used activist judges to remove term limits. (This link will provide you details on specific states term limits)

Thirty-seven states place some form of term limits on their governor and other constitutional offices. (This link will provide you details)

Polling shows that term limits is just as popular in the states in which they exist as they were when the laws were first passed.

These alarming numbers cause fear for career politicians, which is why they are the ones who seek to eliminate term limits. US Term Limits continues to be the leader in blocking politicians, lobbyists and special interests from repealing term limits for their own personal gain.
Nine of the ten largest cities in America have term limits on their city council and/or mayor, for more details on cities with term limits, click here.

 

1990 Term Limits Votes
State

 

Measure Number

 

Type of Limits

 

Yes %

 

Current Status

 

CaliforniaProp. 140Statewide Officials Legislature52.2In effect since 1996
ColoradoAmendment 5Congress, Statewide Officials, Legislature71USSC Thornton decision repealed Cong. limits; remaining limits in effect since 1998
OklahomaQuestion 632Legislature67.3Takes effect in 2004
1991 Term Limits Votes
WashingtonInitiative 553Congress, Governor, Lt. Governor, Legislature46N/A
1992 Term Limits Votes
ArizonaProp. 107Congress, Legislature, State Executive Dept., Corporation Commission, State Mine Inspector74.2USSC Thornton decision repealed Cong. limits; remaining limits in effect since 2000
ArkansasAmendment 73Congress, State Constitutional Officers, Legislators59.9USSC Thornton decision repealed Cong. limits; remaining limits in effect since 1998
CaliforniaProp. 164Congress63.4USSC Thornton decision applies – unconst.
FloridaCongress, Statewide Officials, Legislature76.8USSC Thornton decision repealed Cong. limits; remaining limits in effect since 2000
MichiganProposal BCongress, Statewide Officials, Legislature58.8USSC Thornton case repealed Cong. limits; remaining limits in effect since 1998
MissouriAmendment 12Legislature75Takes effect in 2002
MissouriAmendment 13Congress74USSC Thornton decision applies – unconst.
MontanaCI-64Congress, Statewide Officials, Legislature67USSC Thornton case repealed Cong. limits; remaining limits in effect since 2000
NebraskaCongress, Statewide Officials, Legislature68.2State SC held unconst. 1994
North DakotaMeasure 5Congress55USSC Thornton decision applies – unconst.
OhioIssue 2Congress66.2USSC Thornton decision applies – unconst.
OhioIssue 3Legislature68.4In effect since 2000
OhioIssue 4Lt. Governor, Sec. of State, Treasurer, AG, Auditor69.2
OregonMeasure 3Congress, Statewide Officials, Legislature69.5USSC Thornton case repealed Cong. limits; remaining limits held unconst. by state SC
South DakotaAmendment ACongress, Statewide Officials, Legislature63.5USSC Thornton decision repealed Cong. limits; remaining limits in effect since 2000
WashingtonInitiative 573Congress, Governor, Lt. Governor, Legislature52US Dist Court held Cong. Limits unconst. 1/8/94; remaining limits held unconst. by state SC 1/8/98
WyomingInitiative 2Congress, Statewide Officials, Legislature77.2USSC Thornton case repealed Cong. limits; remaining limits take effect in 2006
1993 Term Limits Votes
MaineSec. of State, Treasurer, AG, Auditor, Legislature67.6In effect since 1996
1994 Term Limits Votes
AlaskaMeasure 4Congress63USSC Thornton decision applies – unconst.
ColoradoAmendment 17Local Officials51In effect; some localities have voted to amend/repeal the limits
IdahoProposal 2Congress, Statewide Officials, Legislature, County, Local, School Boards59USSC Thornton decision repealed Cong. limits; remaining limits repealed by legislature, 2/02
MaineQuestion 1Congress63USSC Thornton decision applies – unconst.
MassachusettsQuestion 4Congress, Statewide Officials, Legislature52USSC Thornton decision repealed Cong. limits; State SC ruled remaining limits unconst., 7/97
NebraskaMeasure 408Congress, Statewide Officials, Legislature, City & County Officials68USSC Thornton case – unconst. in part; State SC ruled remainder unconst., Duggan v. Beerman, 1996
NevadaQuestion 8Congressional70Required ratification in 1996; removed from 1996 ballot following USSC Thorntondecision
NevadaQuestion 9Statewide Officials, Judges, Justices, Legislature, Local Officials70.4Required ratification in 1996; split into two questions on 1996 ballot by state SC
OklahomaQuestion 662Congress67USSC Thornton decision applies – unconst.
UtahInitiative ACongress, Statewide Officials, Legislature, County35N/A
1995 Term Limits Votes
LouisianaLegislature76Takes effect in 2007
MississippiMeasure 4Congress, Judges, Statewide Officials, Legislature, Local Officials45.7N/A
1996 Term Limits Votes
AlaskaMeasure 4Congress – Instruct & Inform54.6AG declared unenforceable; USSC Cook v. Gralike applies – unconst.
ArkansasAmendment 9Congress – Instruct & Inform61USSC Cook v. Gralike applies – unconst.
ColoradoAmendment 12Congress – Instruct & Inform54State SC held unconst., Feb. 1998
IdahoProposal 4Congress – Instruct & Inform56.1USSC Cook v. Gralike applies – unconst.
MaineQuestion 1Congress – Instruct & Inform59USSC Cook v. Gralike applies – unconst.
MissouriAmendment 9Congress – Instruct & Inform57.7USSC held unconst., 2/01,Cook v. Gralike
MontanaI-132Congress – Instruct & Inform45.4N/A
NebraskaMeasure 409Congress – Instruct & Inform58.3USSC Donovan v. Priest (1997) applies, holding AR instruct & inform law unconst
NevadaQuestion 9(a)Statewide Officials, Legislature, Local Officials54.3Takes effect in 2008
NevadaQuestion 9(b)Justices, Judges41N/A
NevadaQuestion 17Congress – Instruct & Inform53.2Required ratification in 1998
North DakotaMeasure 5Congress – Instruct & Inform; Statewide Officials, Legislature47.4N/A
North DakotaMeasure 6Constitutional convention to limit Congressional terms44.4N/A
OregonMeasure 48Congress – Instruct & Inform48.2N/A
South DakotaMeasure 1Congress – Instruct & Inform68Repealed by Legislature, 3/97
WashingtonInitiative 670Congress – Instruct & Inform45N/A
WyomingInitiative 1Congress – Instruct & Inform54.1*N/A
WyomingReferendum 1Popular referendum to repeal the 1995 legislation extending from 6 to 12 years the limit on legislators53.7*N/A
1997 Term Limits Votes
No statewide votes on term limits.
1998 Term Limits Votes
AlaskaMeasure 7Voluntary Congressional Limits & Ballot Labeling50.2
CaliforniaProp. 225Congress – Instruct & Inform53USSC Cook v. Gralike applies – unconst.
ColoradoAmendment 18Voluntary Congressional Limits & Ballot Labeling50.4
IdahoProposal 1Voluntary Congressional Limits & Ballot Labeling54.7
IdahoAdvisory vote – should state retain state and local term limits, since Congressional limits were held unconstitutional?53.2N/A
NevadaQuestion 17Congress – Instruct & Inform55.4USSC Cook v. Gralike applies – unconst.
1999 Term Limits Votes
MississippiMeasure 9Legislature45N/A
2000 Term Limits Votes
NebraskaMeasure 415Legislature56Takes effect in 2008
2001 Term Limits Votes
No statewide votes on term limits.

 

2002 Term Limits Votes
CaliforniaProp. 45Allow legislators to petition to run for up to 4 years beyond limit42.3Limits remain in effect
ColoradoReferendum AExempt district attorneys from term limits33.9Limits remain in effect
IdahoProposition 2Approve the legislature’s repeal of term limits50.2Term limits repealed
MissouriAmendment 3Exclude partial terms from term limits54.2Partial terms are excluded from term limits
2003 Term Limits Votes
No statewide votes on term limits.
2004 Term Limits Votes
ArkansasAmendment 1Extend limit on terms to 12 years in each chamber29.9Term limits remain unchanged
MontanaC-42Extend limit on terms from 8 years in a 16-year period to 12 years in a 24-year period in each chamber31.4Term limits remain unchanged
2005 Term Limits Votes
No statewide votes on term limits.
2006 Term Limits Votes
OregonMeasure 45Legislature41.3No legislative term limits in Oregon
2007 Term Limits Votes
MaineQuestion 5Extend from 4 to 6 the number of consecutive terms a legislator may serve32.9Term limits remain unchanged
2008 Term Limits Votes
CaliforniaProposition 93Remove chamber-specific limits and instead permit a legislator to serve a total of 12 years in the legislature46.4Term limits remain unchanged
South DakotaAmendment JRepeal term limits24.3Term limits remain unchanged
2009 Term Limits Votes
No statewide votes on term limits.
2010 Term Limits Votes
OklahomaQuestion 747Impose 8-year lifetime limit on the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Auditor and Inspector, State Treasurer, Labor Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner and State Schools Superintendent.69.9In effect since 2010
2011 Term Limits Votes
No statewide votes on term limits.
2012 Term Limits Votes
CaliforniaProposition 28Remove chamber-specific limits and instead permit a legislator to serve a total of 12 years in the legislature61.0The change was adopted; term limits remain in effect, as amended
NebraskaAmendment 3Change limit from 2 to 3 consecutive terms35.3Term limits remain unchanged

 


 

Notes
*An initiative must receive a majority of the total votes cast in an election, not simply a majority of the votes cast on the initiative, in order to pass. Therefore, both Wyoming measures failed. Initiative 1 received 48.7% of the total votes cast; Referendum 1 received 48.4% of the total votes cast.

 

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, February 2013.