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OUR VIEW: Term limits should be lengthened

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opinion Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

We have offered sometimes confusing opinions on the issue of term limits in the South Dakota Legislature.

We have opined in the past against dropping term limits. We have opined against the timing of proposals to lengthen term limits, including once after a statewide election on the matter.

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Today, we say that we wouldn’t mind seeing term limits increased for state lawmakers, and we back a proposal to make that happen.

HJR 1002 would lengthen the time a legislator could serve in the same chamber. The current limit is eight consecutive years, and the proposal would change it to 12 consecutive years.

We could never throw ourselves behind a proposal that would do away with term limits. Change is good, and especially so in lawmaking bodies.

But it can be overdone, and that has happened in South Dakota. Just when successful lawmakers are hitting their stride, we remove them from office and sometimes bring in rookies to take their place. Lawmaking savvy and institutional knowledge are simply tossed out the door.

Too, it sometimes is difficult to find qualified candidates to run for legislative office, and especially in sparsely populated areas.

Eight years just isn’t enough time. And besides, some lawmakers are sidestepping the law by changing chambers every four years.

We say make term limits 12 years.

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