Candidates for governor support General Assembly term limits
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Three Republicans challenging South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s re-election bid came to the Capitol on Wednesday to support a proposal that would allow voters to consider term limits for state legislators, which they said would help fix corruption.
A Senate subcommittee approved the joint resolution limiting House and Senate members to serving only 12 years in each chamber. The constitutional amendment would have to be approved by voters. It stands little chance of passing with the legislature adjourning next week.
“I think that we have a problem in the legislature; when you serve for a long period of time, you kind of lose touch,” said Sen. William Timmons, a Greenville Republican sponsoring the bill. “I think that sometimes you don’t understand that what you are doing is wrong because you’ve been in the system for so long.”
Fifteen U.S. states now have term limits on state legislators, including Louisiana, whose 12-year limit is the model for the South Carolina proposal, said Tim Storey with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Three candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor next month also spoke to the subcommittee. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former state public health chief Catherine Templeton and Greenville businessman John Warren all support the proposal.
“I supported this legislation as a member, but what I’ve seen when I was a member of the legislature and now in executive branch that the legislature has far too much power,” said Bryant, who served 11 years in the state Senate before becoming lieutenant governor when McMaster was elevated to the governor’s office in January 2017 when Nikki Haley became U.N ambassador.
Templeton said the current system is influenced negatively by seniority and self-dealing lawmakers who thrive on power.
“We want real people, normal people to come up here and do their best and live under the laws they created,” Templeton said. “As long as we have this system in place, there will be another very powerful legislature borne by the system.”
Warren said lawmakers should be able to serve only eight years in either the Senate or the House and just 12 years between both chambers to assure the General Assembly gets high caliber people with new ideas.
“It would put the focus on getting stuff done as opposed to getting re-elected,” Warren said.
Timmons acknowledged that his bill has no chance with the session ending May 10, but said he will file it again before January’s new session begins.