June 24, 2018
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Bill would stretch Maine legislative terms to 4 years, but keep 8-year service limit

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill that would double the length of legislators’ terms in office from two to four years but preserve the overall limit of eight consecutive years in the same office is headed for debate in the House and Senate following a vote out of committee Monday morning.

A bill sponsored by Rep. John Schneck, D-Bangor, A Resolution Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Increase the Lengths of Terms of Members of the Legislature, would ask voters to amend the Maine Constitution to increase the length of terms served by senators and representatives to four years. The original version of the bill did not include language to change the current limit on the number of terms a lawmaker can serve consecutively in the same position, which stands at four. The net effect of Schneck’s bill would have extended the possible number of years a lawmaker in either body of the Legislature could serve from eight years to 16.

However, an amendment by Rep. Catherine Nadeau, D-Winslow, which was accepted by the committee, would double the length of each term while limiting the number of terms to two, which would preserve the current limit of eight consecutive years of service.

In 1993, Maine voters overwhelming supported legislative term limits in a statewide vote triggered by a citizen’s initiative.

The State and Local Government Committee voted 8-1, with a few members absent, in favor of sending the bill to the full Legislature as amended. The bill would require two-thirds approval in both chambers in order to be sent to voters for a statewide referendum to amend the Maine Constitution.

Just a few minutes later, the committee voted 8-3 against a bill that would have reduced the size of the Legislature.

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