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State Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. (Photo: Jim Rosica)

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Mark Pafford proposes extending legislative term limits

In a legislative equivalent of a Hail Mary passthe Democratic leader of the GOP-controlled state House has filed legislation to extend the terms of state lawmakers from eight years to 12 years.

State Rep. Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach submitted the bill (HJR 711) on Wednesday for the 2016 Legislative Session.

The change would require amending the state constitution; term limits of eight years were themselves approved by Florida voters in 1992 as a constitutional amendment.

Term limits, however, are favored by the conservative majority that now controls both chambers, so it’s unlikely the bill will go far, if it even gets a hearing.

The measure does have a Republican supporter in the Senate, however. State Sen. Rene Garcia of Miami filed the identical companion bill in that chamber.

Pafford, who himself faces term limits next year, couldn’t be immediately reached by phone.

His office later announced a press conference Thursday at 11:30 a.m. with Garcia to discuss the measure.

The Legislature may propose constitutional amendments but they too must be OK’d by 60 percent of statewide voters, the same as citizen initiatives.

It would apply to those elected in 2016 “or any election thereafter,” the bill says.

Fifteen states, including Florida, have imposed term limits on legislators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In another six states, legislative term limits were enacted but later repealed or struck down by courts.

Pafford’s bill also would remove language from the state constitution that limits terms of the state’s U.S. senators and representatives; those limits were previously struck down.

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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