image of U.S. mapFifteen states currently have term limits for legislators. These can be found at The Term Limited States. It includes the year term limits were enacted, the first year where term limits had an impact and the limit itself. Also included is a table of states that had term limits in the past but no longer do because of legislative or court action.




As term limits began to take effect starting in the late 1990s, many of their impacts on the legislative institution have been negative. Indeed, term limits have presented challenges for legislatures that wish to remain strong and effective institutions.  However, legislatures are  dynamic bodies, and they have made many adaptations to cope with these challenges. These can be explored through NCSL's publication: Coping With Term Limits, A Practical Guide.

Legislative term limits have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts in four states; see Summaries of Term Limits Cases for details.

See a year-by-year breakdown of the number of legislators termed out between 1996 and 2014.





Term Limits


photo of a legislative chamberProposals to limit the terms of state legislators have been the subject of public policy debate since 1990. Since then, 21 states have adopted term limits, but court cases and repeals mean that only 15 states now have term limits for legislators.