There are pros ad cons to term limits which the Louisiana Legislature is experiencing for the first time this year. The cons, of course, include the loss of whatever lesiglators gain through years of experience in moving the desires of their constituents into state law. There also is a loss of association among legislators who work together for the benefit of the state.The big pluses of term limits is the opportunity to bring new ideas and viewpoints to the table in running state government. Of course, this can be done without term limits by long-term legislators keeping up with modern needs and majorities voting against incumbents who don’t. But incumbents usually have the edge in organized efforts to gain votes, especially with lobbyists they have benefitted helping them along.
Another benefit of term limits is to prevent legislators from becoming so powerful that he or she can get special privileges for family and friends above others if he so chooses.
Any way you look at it, term limits are here to stay for awhile. This year, a goodly percentage of the legislature will say goodbye to their jobs, some of which have lasted for quite a spell.
We can measure in the next few years whether or not our state has benefitted from those new outlooks, if it has reduced the amount of unnecessary pork that has throttled our spending habits and if its taxpaying dollars have been put to better use.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that popular time-limited legislators have to give up on getting jobs from the voting public. They can, and often do, go after other elected positions, often bigger ones since they have name recognition. If they served well as legislators, they can be rewarded with a bigger job. And in many cases they could help administer the offices and programs they set up as legislators.
Meanwhile, the legislature is not likely to change that much next year. Enough incumbents who were not term-limited out will probably be re-elected to keep some experience intact. And at the same time, we should have enough new blood there to turn Louisiana into new directions where needed.