AUGUSTA — The state already has term limits for lawmakers, but the question is should those be redefined?
“On Tuesday, Nov. 2, 1993, the Maine people were asked on question one by referendum, ‘Do you favor changes in Maine law limiting the number of terms which may be served by Maine’s state legislators, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general and state auditor proposed by citizen petition?'” said Rep. Justin Fecteau, a Republican from Augusta.
According to Fecteau, a majority of Maine voters were in favor of this.
“Voters believed they were ‘limiting the number of terms which may be served,'” Fecteau said. “But it ended up being a limit on consecutive terms. Under state statute, a legislator ‘may not serve more than four consecutive terms as a member of the house of representatives or a state senator.'”
Fecteau is sponsoring a bill, which he presented in a public hearing Monday, to limit state legislators to a lifetime total of 16 years of legislative service.
“I believe we can both limit the number of terms while respecting the limit of four two-year terms for a representative or senator,” Fecteau said.
Rep. Jon Connor, a Republican from Lewiston, said Maine’s current laws only place a limit on the number of consecutive terms served, not on the total number of terms.
“Amending the law to enforce actual term limits will ensure that sacrifice and public service is spread to a more diverse set of Mainers over time increasing the number of people and the perspectives that help to write our laws,” Connor said.
Representing the League of Women Voters of Maine, Penelope Hamblin said she opposes the bill.
“Term limits violate the ultimate right of voters to choose the representatives who best serve the needs of their district and the state of Maine,” Hamblin said. “By disqualifying experience, knowledgeable and capable legislators, term limits make our government less responsible, less accountable, and less effective.”
The Committee on State and Local Government will discuss the proposal further before sending its recommendation to the full legislature.