The group Eight is Enough Ohio has proposed a constitutional amendment that was certified on September 8 by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine as having “a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law or constitutional amendment.” The proposal, called “Strengthening Term Limits on State Legislators,” amends Article II, Section 43 of the Ohio Constitution to state that no person may hold any combination of elected legislative offices for more than 12 years and that no person may hold the same elected legislative office for more than eight years.
Currently, Ohio legislators face term limits of eight years in each chamber; however, once a legislator is termed out from one chamber, he or she can run and be elected to the other chamber — moving back and forth between the House of Representatives and the Senate and, effectively, remaining in office indefinitely.
Critics of Ohio’s current term limits argue that the ability to move back and forth between chambers undermines the purpose of term limits, which is to create more turnover and get “new blood” into the Ohio General Assembly.
While a ballot issue to further limit terms in the Ohio legislature is pending, the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission has debated the opposite approach, discussing a recommendation to expand legislative term limits to 12 years. The commission’s Legislative Branch and Executive Branch Committee recommended two potential term-limit extensions in its April 2015 meeting. One of the proposals would apply to current legislators; the other would not. The full commission has not yet made a recommendation on the issue. Supporters of expanding term limits cite the need for experienced legislators with institutional knowledge.
The “Strengthening Term Limits on State Legislators” proposal will now go the Ohio Ballot Board, which will review the amendment and certify the petition as a single constitutional amendment. The Ballot Board has 10 days from the date it receives the petition from the attorney general to make this determination. Once the issue has been certified by the Ballot Board, the petitioners may begin to collect signatures. Eight is Enough Ohio will need 305,591 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.