Constitutional amendment term limiting legislative leaders advances
A bill that would apply term limits to legislative leaders in the Illinois House and Senate cleared a major hurdle May 19, and is scheduled for a second reading May 22.
A constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms legislative leaders can serve moved one step closer to reality May 19.
Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 2, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, would limit the speaker of the House of Representatives, Senate president and minority leaders of both the House and Senate to a total of five terms in those roles. Those limits would only apply to service “on or after the second Wednesday in January 2019,” though, meaning the current leaders would not be affected until that point. SJRCA 2 is now two steps away from a vote in the Senate.
If SJRC 2 passes the Illinois General Assembly and the governor signs the bill, the measure would be on the Nov. 18 ballot, and if voters approve SJRC 2 the bill would take effect in January 2019.
If successful, this would be a significant change from past efforts to enact term limits. Other term limit initiatives – often for all lawmakers instead of just legislative leaders – have been met with stiff opposition from House Speaker Mike Madigan in particular.
State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, filed a constitutional amendment in 2015 to place term limits on Illinois lawmakers, but the bill never left Madigan’s Rules Committee. The Senate passed a resolution in January that puts limits on leadership in its chamber, but it does nothing to affect Madigan’s rule or that of any other House lawmaker. And Madigan just recently said in an interview with WGN when asked about terms limits, “I support term limits as administered by the voters.”
Nearly 4 out of 5 Illinois residents support term limits, according to polling from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Illinois is one of only 14 states with no form of term limits for state lawmakers and the following executive branch offices: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor general and comptroller.
Madigan is into the 17th term of his speakership, and has been in the House since 1971. Senate President John Cullerton is in his fifth term and was first elected to the General Assembly in 1978. As evident by the state’s downward economic path the last several decades, career politicians can become deaf to their constituents’ needs, and often care more about power than positive policy outcomes.
Enacting term limits for legislative leaders would be a good start to promoting more transparent and accountable state government.
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