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The Effects of Term Limits on State Legislatures

John M. Carey, Richard G. Niemi and Lynda W. Powell
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 23, No. 2 (May, 1998), pp. 271-300
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/440283
Page Count: 30
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The Effects of Term Limits on State Legislatures
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Abstract

Legislative theory suggests that anticipatory effects of term limits would first affect the types of individuals elected to office and only later influence the legislature itself. Our results, based on a 1995 survey of nearly 3000 state legislators nationwide, indicate otherwise. There are no systematic differences between term limit and non-term limit states in the composition of the legislature (e.g., professional backgrounds). Yet with respect to legislative behavior, term limits decrease the time legislators devote to securing pork, and heighten the priority they place on the needs of the state and on the demands of conscience relative to district interests. At the same time, with respect to the legislature as an institution, term limits appear to be redistributing power away from majority party leaders and toward governors and possibly legislative staffers.

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