By 2020, half of state legislature may be gone

Term limits were approved by Louisiana voters in 1995 by a vote of 76 percent, but they didn’t go into effect until roughly eight years ago.

With just three terms allowed, amounting to 12 years, that means lawmakers and everyone else are still getting used to the revised timeline.

But reality will soon again set in, as 60 percent of the current membership of the Louisiana Legislature will be barred from running for re-election over the next four years.

Right now 14 members of the House and seven from the Senate are term limited, making for 21 lawmakers on the do-not-run list. But in 2019, there will be 66 overall, including 47 from the House and 19 from the upper chamber.

Of course, the numbers will dip and spin as House members look to upgrade to the Senate and, surely, some senators look to hold on by moving down a notch to the lower chamber. Either way, it’s a loss of institutional knowledge. The Legislature, however, has been there before.

In 2007 the House had 59 new members elected to their first term of service, with one senator, Noble Ellington, being re-elected to the House after 12 years in the other chamber. So the 14 members the House loses this year won’t compare, but orienting as many as 47 new members following the next term could be a big job for staff.

House Clerk Butch Speer, who has survived everything from a constitutional convention to a few rounds of redistricting, said the 2007 turnover required a nearly four-day orientation process preceded by the training of 14 small groups of lawmakers between qualifying and Thanksgiving.

From pure percentages, though, the biggest hit could be in the Senate, which may lose 26 of its 39 members by 2019, or 66 percent of the body. In the House, 58 percent may be lost by 2019, or 61 representatives from the 105-member body.

 

About Jeremy Alford 203 Articles
Jeremy Alford is an independent journalist and the co-author of LONG SHOT, which recounts Louisiana's 2015 race for governor. His bylines appear regularly in The New York Times and he has served as an on-camera analyst for CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

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