NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Term Limits Prompting State Politicians to Consider Congress

April 4, 2000

A little-noted consequence of the term-limits movement among the states has been to propel office-holders prohibited from running for re-election into races for the U.S. Congress. Political observers say the development is creating many interesting races.

  • Eighteen states now have laws limiting the amount of time legislators and many other state officials can serve.
  • In some states -- including California and Colorado -- the first impact of term-limit laws was felt in 1998.
  • In others -- such as Florida and Ohio -- eight-year limits were enacted in 1992 and the first effects are being felt this year.

Interestingly, since California has only 40 state senators and 80 seats in the Assembly, but 52 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, state senators often represent more people and generally have considerably more influence than all but the most senior members of Congress.

Source: David E. Rosenbaum, "Term Limits Lead States' Big Fish to Try for the Big Pond, Congress," New York Times, April 4, 2000.


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