Back 

Chart of Term Limits States

The Term-Limited States

Updated January 2013

The following table represents the 15 states that currently have term limits for legislators. They are ordered by the year of term limits' impact--the first year in which incumbents who were serving when the term limits measure was passed are no longer eligible to run for re-election.  At the bottom of the page is a table of states that had term limits in the past but no longer do (due to legislative or court action).

 

 

House

Senate

 

State

Year Enacted

Limit

Year of Impact

Limit

Year of Impact

% Voted Yes

MAINE

1993

8

1996

8

1996

67.6

CALIFORNIA

1990

12 (c)

1996

12 (c)

1998

52.2

COLORADO

1990

8

1998

8

1998

71

ARKANSAS

1992

6

1998

8

2000

59.9

MICHIGAN

1992

6

1998

8

2002

58.8

FLORIDA

1992

8

2000

8

2000

76.8

OHIO

1992

8

2000

8

2000

68.4

SOUTH DAKOTA

1992

8

2000

8

2000

63.5

MONTANA

1992

8

2000

8

2000

67

ARIZONA

1992

8

2000

8

2000

74.2

MISSOURI (a)

1992

8

2002

8

2002

75

OKLAHOMA

1990

12 (c)

2004

12 (c)

2004

67.3

NEBRASKA

2000

n/a

n/a

8

2006

56

LOUISIANA

1995

12

2007

12

2007

76

NEVADA (b)

1996

12

2010

12

2010

70.4

(a) Because of special elections, term limits were effective in 2000 for eight current members of the House and one Senator in 1998.
(b) The Nevada Legislative Council and Attorney General ruled that Nevada's term limits could not be applied to those legislators elected in the same year term limits were passed (1996). They first applied to persons elected in 1998.
(c) In California and Oklahoma, a legislator may serve a total of 12 years in the legislature during his or her lifetime. The total time may be split between the two chambers, or spent in its entirely in a single chamber. Before 2012, California's limits were identical to those in Arkansas: six years in the assembly and eight years in the senate.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
 


Consecutive vs. Lifetime Limits

Term limits may be divided into two broad categories: consecutive and lifetime. With consecutive term limits, a legislator is limited to serving a particular number of years in a chamber. Upon hitting the limit in one chamber, a legislator may run for election to the other chamber or leave the legislature. After a set period of time (usually two years), the clock resets on the limit, and the legislator may run for election to his/her original seat and serve up to the limit again.

With lifetime limits, on the other hand, once a legislator has served up to the limit, she/he may never again run for election to that office. Lifetime limits are much more restrictive than consecutive limits.

Limit in Years

Consecutive

Lifetime Ban

6 house / 8 senate

--

AR, MI

8 total

NE

--

8 house / 8 senate

AZ, CO, FL, ME, MT, OH, SD

MO

12 total

--

CA, OK

12 house / 12 senate

LA

NV

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
 


Term Limits Repeals

In two states, term limits have been repealed by the legislature. In another four states, courts have found term limits provisions to be unconstitutional. No court has struck down term limits on the merits of the law itself; rather, in all four cases, courts objected to the method by which the limits were enacted. In Massachusetts, Washington and Wyoming, the opinions were similar. In all three states, term limits were enacted as statutes, rather than constitutional amendments. The courts said that because term limits constituted a qualification for office, they must be spelled out in the state constitution, and a statute spelling them out was not constitutional. In Oregon, the state supreme court found that the initiative imposing term limits in that state violated the single-subject requirement for initiatives.

State

Year Repealed

Year Enacted

Who Repealed?

IDAHO

2002

1994

Legislature

MASSACHUSETTS

1997

1994

State Supreme Court

OREGON

2002

1992

State Supreme Court

UTAH

2003

1994

Legislature

WASHINGTON

1998

1992

State Supreme Court

WYOMING

2004

1992

State Supreme Court

Source:  National Conference of State Legislatures


For More Information

Karl Kurtz tracks term limits and may be reached at 303-364-7700 or elections-info@ncsl.org.

 

Share this: 
NCSL Summit 2014
We are the nation's most respected bipartisan organization providing states support, ideas, connections and a strong voice on Capitol Hill.

NCSL Member Toolbox

Denver

7700 East First Place
Denver, CO 80230
Tel: 303-364-7700 | Fax: 303-364-7800

Washington

444 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 515
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: 202-624-5400 | Fax: 202-737-1069

Copyright 2014 by National Conference of State Legislatures