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Panel endorses extending SD lawmakers' term limits

PIERRE (AP) -- A South Dakota House panel recommended Monday lengthening the term limits for members of the state Legislature.

Currently, a Senate or House member can serve no more than eight consecutive years, or four two-year terms, in a chamber, although a lawmaker can run for another chamber after being term-limited in one.

The State Affairs Committee voted 9-4 to endorse a proposed constitutional amendment that would extend term limits to 12 consecutive years in a chamber, or six two-year terms. If the full Legislature passes the measure, voters would be asked to change the Constitution in the November statewide election.

The measure's main sponsor, Rep. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, said he still supports term limits, but the eight-year limit approved by voters in 1992 is too short and doesn't give lawmakers the time they need to become good at their jobs. "About the time you are learning and becoming an effective member, it's time to vacate that particular house," Bolin said.

Bolin said if his proposal passes, he would limit himself to the eight-year limit in effect when he was first elected to the House in 2008.