The Legislature has steadily cut the time politicians can serve on the School Board. Are lawmakers now turning their sights to County Commissioners?
Rep. Michelle Salzman, a Pensacola Republican, filed legislation (HB 57) that would prohibit County Commissioners who had already served eight years from running for re-election. She now wants the Legislature to impose the restriction in statute instead of throwing the matter to voters to decide.
An eight-year cap is the same limit for House and Senate members, thanks to a constitutional amendment passed in the 1990s. It’s also the limit governing School Board members after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed new legislation cutting down the previous 12-year limit last year.
Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, who ran the School Board term limits bill in the last Legislative Session, also included a limit for County Commissioners. But the House ultimately never approved such language, and the Senate deferred.
Ingoglia’s proposal at the time drew opposition from the Florida Association of Counties. Cragin Mosteller, External Affairs Director for the Association, said then that a statewide term limit mandate “undermines the will of the people and limits their ability to choose their elected officials.
“Term limits should be decided by voters, not Tallahassee politicians,” Mosteller said at the time.
Notably, Salzman separately filed a bill (HJR 19) earlier this year that would have left the decision to voters instead of the Legislature. That joint resolution, filed in August, would have put the question of term limits to voters statewide. That would have only become law if 60% of voters were to approve a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2024.
But Salzman withdrew that legislation from consideration the same day she filed a bill seeking to change the law through a standard bill.
Besides leaving the matter to lawmakers, the legislation, as written, would impose a term limit retroactively, at least by a couple of years. The filed bill would start the clock on any service by County Commissioners from Nov. 8 last year, though no time before that point would count against the eight-year limit.
When Salzman proposed a constitutional amendment, the language would only have gone into effect after voters passed the measure, with no prior years of service applied against officials.
If the proposal becomes law, it could significantly impact Florida’s political class. Florida has 373 County Commissions across its 67 counties, a majority of whom would be affected by the legislation.
Currently, 11 charter counties impose term limits on Commissioners, with eight of those already enforcing an eight-year cap. The remaining three — Broward, Lee and Polk counties — allow County Commissioners to serve up to 12 years before facing a restriction.
The rest of Florida’s counties have no limit, and most cannot adopt one without becoming a charter county first.
That means the eight-year limit proposed by Salzman could potentially impact 286 County Commission seats.