Legislators Say Report Proves Term Limits are Harmful

AUGUST 16, 2006 - Posted at 8:06 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas legislators say the state's term limits law is doing more harm than good, although a national report released yesterday said seats opened up by term limits allowed the election of more black lawmakers.

Legislative leaders and political experts said they agreed with a report released by the National Conference of State Legislatures that said term limits nationally have not led to more diverse legislatures.

This state's term limits law, enacted in 1992, limits House members to six years in office and state senators to eight years.  According to the report, 29 of Arkansas' 100 House members and one of the state's 35 senators were unable to seek re-election this year because of term limits.

Arkansas was cited along with Michigan as states where the number of black lawmakers has increased after term limits, but legislative leaders say they've seen little benefit from the restriction.  Representative Benny Petrus of Stuttgart, who will serve as House Speaker in the 2007 legislative session, said the most experienced representatives in his chamber will only have four years of experience.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)