Senate Joint Resolution 13, authored by Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, would place a constitutional amendment regarding term limits for all statewide elected officials before voters in November. It would limit officials to two, consecutive four-year terms.
The bill received more than two-thirds approval by Senate members, 27-4.
The term limits resolution applies to the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, comptroller, land commissioner, agriculture co- mmissioner, railroad commissioners and attorney general. It would not apply to state representatives and senators.
Eltife said it will face a “high hurdle” in the House where it also needs two-thirds of the 150-member chamber for approval. The overwhelming bi-partisan support in the Senate has Eltife confident there is opportunity for passage in the House.
“If (legislators) get it to the voters (in November) we’ll find out what they think,” he said.
Eltife believes Texas voters would overwhelmingly support limits but that either way the discussion regarding limiting statewide officials would be settled.
State Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, introduced similar legislation in the House. He said polling data indicates a constitutional amendment to institute term limits would be approved by 80 percent of Texas’ voters.
Larson said he believes there is enough bi-partisan support in the House to let voters have their say.
“I would think if we get it to the floor that there would be enough votes to take it to voters,” he said.
Larson said statewide officials’ runs for higher office and historically long tenures have changed the public’s perception of how long a person should hold office. He said turnover represents opportunity for new ideas and perspective.
Eight years is a long time to serve, he said. Term limits would rectify the future consolidation of power by popular officials such as Gov. Rick Perry who has appointed most agency heads since becoming governor in late 2000.
If the legislation were passed by legislators and voters, statewide officials would be eligible for two more terms in their respective offices, Eltife said.