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Senate imposes term limits on its leaders via rule change

Wednesday, Jan 11, 2017

* The plan is to run a constitutional amendment soon, but in the meantime the Senate decided to change its rules right away…

The Illinois Senate approved new rules today placing term limits on the leadership positions of the chamber. State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) issued the following statement:

“New ideas and a fresh perspective are always beneficial to our democracy. By instituting this rule, we can guarantee that the Illinois Senate will always be led by someone with a positive vision for our state. I applaud Senate President Cullerton for his leadership in making sure this rule could become a reality.”

The new rule change would limit both the President of the Senate and the Minority Leader of the Senate to five two-year terms.

Yes, this is a mainly symbolic gesture because the Senate can change its rules whenever it wants.

But every public move like this cranks up the pressure one more notch on Speaker Madigan.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


30 Comments
  1. - A guy - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:30 pm:

    ==But every public move like this cranks up the pressure one more notch on Speaker Madigan===

    Yep. It all starts with a trickle first.


  2. - My New Handle - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:33 pm:

    Is this “pressure” viewed as conventional wisdom, or can it be documented somehow? Honest question, so hopefully it won’t generate sarcastic or dismissive respones, if any.


  3. - illinoised - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:40 pm:

    Mike Madigan is what, 75? The term limit thing is moot for him but could make a big difference to his successor.


  4. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:44 pm:

    ===The term limit thing is moot for him===

    1) His mom lived into her 90s.

    2) He’s philosophically opposed to term limits.


  5. - Not It - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:45 pm:

    Great move, but what would be better is a Constitutional Amendment Resolution.

    I would also point out that the process to determine a Senate President and Minority Leader are specified in the Constitution, and chamber rules are also voted on AFTER the Senate President election, so at the next Inauguration these rules won’t exist.


  6. - Seymourkid - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:46 pm:

    Have other states that instituted term limits either for legislative leaders or other office holders found them helpful? Did they improve their legislatures? How much new revenue did they create? How many new jobs came to their state? This is a serious question with snark attached.


  7. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:50 pm:

    Not It:

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=2&GAID=14&GA=100&DocTypeID=SJRCA&LegID=99260&SessionID=91

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=2&GAID=14&GA=100&DocTypeID=SJRCA&LegID=99260&SessionID=91


  8. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:51 pm:

    Whoops! Sorry for the double link. The second link was supposed to be this:

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=4&GAID=14&GA=100&DocTypeID=HJRCA&LegID=99508&SessionID=91


  9. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:51 pm:

    Do the incumbents get credit for time served?


  10. - Roman - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:53 pm:

    More than being about putting “pressure” on Madigan, this is about the Senate Dems creating “distance” between themselves and the Speaker.


  11. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:54 pm:

    MJM has stated many times that term limits happen every election.


  12. - Rabid - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:57 pm:

    What baloney how is this an economic proposal?


  13. - Rabid - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:00 pm:

    Senate leadership should step down immediately if they think their ideas are stale


  14. - jim - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:06 pm:

    MJM is philosophically opposed to anything he perceives as even potentially being in conflict with his political interests.


  15. - Illinoised - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:06 pm:

    =His mom lived into her 90s=

    An apple a day keeps term limits away.

    P.S. My mom is 95.


  16. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:10 pm:

    - Seymourkid - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:46 pm:

    Term limits are a bust based on the Rauner reasoning.

    1) they don’t increase electoral competition
    2) they do increase office switching (state rep runs for state senator and later runs for county board, etc.), which is to say they don’t cut down on career politicians
    3) they don’t create “citizen legislators”

    https://igpa.uillinois.edu/sites/igpa.uillinois.edu/files/reports/PF-Legislative-Term-Limits-IGPA-2007.pdf


  17. - Mean Gene - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:12 pm:

    The senate imposing rules onto how it orders itself seems perfectly reasonable to me. That said, term limits serve no other purpose other than restrict the choices that voters have in the ballot box. I believe the citizens of Madigan’s district have every right to select him as often as they wish just as every down state district has the right to select who they wish as often as they wish.

    If this were reversed and the government imposed a law which stated that citizens could no longer eat at Burger King after eating there for 5 years, the people of Illinois would rise up and decry the law as unconstitutional.

    Term limits also do not serve to meet the ends that advocates say it does. New leaders doesn’t equal better leaders. Imagine if a business were run this way; where a business had a policy that after someone worked as a supervisor for 10 years, the business enforced a strict policy of no longer continuing the employment of that supervisor in lieu of hiring a new, uncertain new supervisor. What a ridiculous policy and potentially unprofitable policy. The only end term limits guarantee is that constituents’ options are limited by an arbitrary line not drawn of their own free will.

    We also, finally, have examples of term limits failing to make a state (and our country) better. California currently utilizes strict term limits in its house and senate. California is also ranked as one of the most dysfunctional governments due to the lack of experience of its members. Just like any other job, with time comes experience and wisdom. Without such members, no is certain to be an expert and mistakes are going to happen.

    We can look at Presidential history. Due to term limits, the American people could not select Ronald Reagan for a third term and, instead, had to settle for George W. Bush. Eight years later, again, the country could not select Bill Clinton for a third term and had to settle for George W. Bush. In a sense, the will of the American people was not fully realized due to term limits.

    And just as Illinois now struggles with this issue, if it passed a constitutional amendment to term limit elected officials, it most certainly would not hurt the politicians due to the revolving door that is politics, but it would only limit the choices and will of the voters.

    -MG


  18. - Excessively Rabid - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:14 pm:

    My grandma lived to 104, so there’s a chance I could live to see a time when MJM is not speaker. Regardless, I’m still a lot more interested in term limits for constitutional officers than I am for legislative leaders.


  19. - 13th - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    so when does it take effect, now or ten years from now


  20. - Quiet Sage - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:21 pm:

    The rule change is really all that is necessary. It would be almost impossible as a practical matter to reverse.


  21. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:24 pm:

    - Seymourkid - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 2:46 pm:

    Economically, the term limits research focuses mostly on state budgets and it is safest to say the record is mixed, although an all round conclusion is that legislators become much more fiscally myopic.

    http://www.capitolfax.com/wp-mobile.php?p=21094&more=1


  22. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:44 pm:

    So leadership term limits kick in. Do you really think when Madigan turns 85 and steps down from being Speaker he would have less influence in the House? Gonna stop him from being chair of the Dem Party too?


  23. - Delimma - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 3:54 pm:

    How many years of beating heads against walls did it take Gandhi and MLK before they started to gain traction? The idea that new blood is always better is just wrong. Sometimes experience and credibility matter. Maybe not always, but to automatically dismiss experience and longevity in favor of new and perhaps ignorant seems short sighted.


  24. - NoGifts - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 4:05 pm:

    I don’t think it is contradictory to say you are philosophically against term limits when speaking of letting people of a district vote for their own candidate, the leadership position should be rotated. You are still letting the district vote for the candidate they want.


  25. - Thunder Fred - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 4:16 pm:

    So Madigan is now Gandhi and MLK? The shark has been jumped.


  26. - MAMA - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 5:19 pm:

    There should be a term limit on the governor’s office. Rauner should do an executive order to limit his term.


  27. - CEA - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 5:33 pm:

    Most of the negative consequences attributed to term limits are related to electoral limits. Limits on leadership positions would seem to be an entirely different animal. If the voters of a district want to keep the same representative for forty years, more power to them, but I see no benefit to having the same individual from the same district occupying one of the four leadership chairs for decades. Forcing those positions to occasionally rotate among representatives from different constituencies and different geographical regions seems appropriate and beneficial.

    To use Mean Gene’s business example, of course it would be silly for a business to fire a capable supervisor after ten years. But many businesses, individually or through reorganization, routinely reassign capable leaders to roles where their talents are most needed, and many business analysts hold that at least some level of executive turnover is beneficial for bringing in new ideas and avoiding entrenchment. If Illinois isn’t the textbook example of the consequences of entrenchment, I don’t know what is.


  28. - Michael Westen - Wednesday, Jan 11, 17 @ 7:58 pm:

    “But many businesses, individually or through reorganization, routinely reassign capable leaders to roles where their talents are most needed”

    Right but they do it at their whim, not because a law forced them to do so.


  29. - Rabid - Thursday, Jan 12, 17 @ 6:52 am:

    Coupel this with everybody leaves after ten years, no third term president. Must be a trick to put Evelyn back in charge again


  30. - Fairness and Fairness Only - Thursday, Jan 12, 17 @ 10:28 am:

    This is complete nonsense: “By instituting this rule, we can guarantee that the Illinois Senate will always be led by someone with a positive vision for our state.”

    New does not necessarily guarantee a positive vision, and neither does old. And we surely don’t believe that everyone in Illinois would define positive vision the same way. There are winners and losers to every change.


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