House MNGOPers want term limits for legislators, governor

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A group of House Republicans have introduced a bill that would place term limits on state lawmakers and the governor.

If approved, the bill would place a constitutional amendment before voters to this effect: "No person may file to be a candidate for election to a term in the house of representatives or senate that, if served, would cause the person to serve for more than 14 years in the legislature." 

Governors would be limited to two terms, or eight years, in office.

The language of the amendment, which would go before voters next year, reads: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to place limits on the terms of office of state legislators and executive officers?"

Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) is among the seven House Republicans listed as coauthors.

"It's something that has bipartisan support," Garofalo tells Fox 9. "If you can't get the job done in 14 years, you can't get the job done."

Though this isn't the first time the topic of term limits has come up at the legislature, Garofalo thinks "there's a greater focus on citizens legislators and not career politicians, and the public is more responsive to that now."

"The public sees the value of fresh faces and new blood in politics more than in previous years," he adds.

Garofalo is in the midst of his 11th year as a legislator. We asked him how he feels about the fact that if the amendment is approved, his next term would be his last.

"Regardless of what the state constitution says, I'm not going to serve more than 14 years," he replies.

We also asked Garofalo why the bill authors decided on 14 years instead of other possibilities.

"Because we have staggered terms in the Senate you can't have 12, so it has to be either 10 or 14," he replies. "Otherwise, you could go six years, but I think other states that have six years -- it hasn't worked out too well. Fourteen is a reasonable number where you balance getting fresh faces in the legislature with the ability to legislate, experience."

Though no Democrats are listed as coauthors and the bill doesn't yet have a companion in the Senate, Garofalo says he's optimistic about the bill's prospects.

"It's February -- hope springs eternal," he quips.

-- Capitol photo credit: Jonathunder