Legislative Term Limits

Limits state senators to 3 consecutive 4-year terms and state
representatives to 6 consecutive 2-year terms beginning on the
day of the general election of 2000.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.           
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  Findings.  The decision of the United States
 2 Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), by
 3 disallowing certain campaign spending limits, substantially
 4 impaired the ability of nonincumbents to challenge elected
 5 officials.  It is instructive to compare the election of 1974,
 6 the only state election with mandatory spending limits, with the
 7 1990 election.
 8      In 1974, twenty-two new members were elected to the house of
 9 representatives (forty-three per cent) and eight new members were
10 elected to the senate (thirty-two per cent).  As this election
11 was held under the 1973 reapportionment plan, some of the
12 turnover may be attributable to changes in district boundaries.
13 However, there can be no doubt that this was an extraordinarily
14 fruitful election for bringing new blood into the process.  Among
15 the twenty-two new faces in the house of representatives that
16 year were the current governor and the congressman from the first
17 congressional district.  Eighteen years later, four others were
18 still members of the legislature.

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                                     H.B. NO.           

 1      In contrast, the 1990 elections saw the election of only one
 2 new senator.  Even the solitary member of the senate's freshman
 3 class had prior elective experience and replaced a senator who
 4 did not seek reelection.  Eleven incumbent senators ran in 1990;
 5 all were reelected.  Of the ten incumbent candidates from the
 6 majority party, five faced no opposition in the primary or
 7 general election (but still spent between $17,328 and $41,632)
 8 and three others faced no general election opposition.  This
 9 includes one race that was technically contested, but the
10 opponent made no expenditure beyond the filing fee of $25.
11      Things were only a little better for challengers in the
12 fifty-one-member house of representatives in 1990.  Seventeen
13 incumbents were elected, without opposition, by merely filing
14 their nomination papers, although they still spent an average of
15 almost $30,000 apiece.  Thirteen more incumbents faced only token
16 opposition.  Of forty-nine incumbents running, only four were
17 defeated.  Ninety-two per cent of the incumbents successfully
18 retained their seats.
19      The result of the high cost to nonincumbents running and the
20 small chance of winning is a reduction in the number of seriously
21 contested races.  This, in turn, has increased voter apathy.  It
22 is a cycle that is undermining the entire process of

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                                     H.B. NO.           

 1 representative democracy.  To help correct this problem, this Act
 2 proposes an amendment to article III, section 4, of the
 3 Constitution of the State of Hawaii to limit state senators to
 4 three consecutive four-year terms and state representatives to
 5 six consecutive two-year terms.  The legislature proposes to give
 6 the people of Hawaii an opportunity to weigh the benefits and
 7 detriments of term limits and, upon due consideration, choose
 8 whether or not to apply them.
 9      SECTION 2.  Article III, section 4, of the Constitution of
10 the State of Hawaii is amended to read as follows:
11                    "ELECTION OF MEMBERS; TERM
12      Section 4.  Each member of the legislature shall be elected
13 at an election.  If more than one candidate has been nominated
14 for election to a seat in the legislature, the member occupying
15 that seat shall be elected at a general election.  If a candidate
16 nominated for a seat at a primary election is unopposed for that
17 seat at the general election, the candidate shall be deemed
18 elected at the primary election.  The term of office of a member
19 of the house of representatives shall be two years [and the];
20 provided that, beginning with terms commencing on the day of the
21 general election of 2000, no member shall serve for more than six
22 consecutive two-year terms.  The term of office of a member of

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                                     H.B. NO.           

 1 the senate shall be four years[.]; provided that, beginning with
 2 terms commencing on the day of the general election of 2000, no
 3 member shall serve for more than three consecutive four-year
 4 terms.  Terms are considered consecutive unless there is a break
 5 in service between terms of at least      years.
 6      For purposes of computing the term limits in this section,
 7 the following shall be considered to have served a full term of
 8 office:
 9      (1)  Any member of the senate whose term does not expire at
10           the 2000 general election, but who has two years
11           remaining in the current term of office; and
12      (2)  Any person appointed or elected to fill a vacancy in
13           the legislature and who serves at least one-half of a
14           term of office.
15      The term of a member of the legislature shall begin on the
16 day of the general election at which elected or if elected at a
17 primary election, on the day of the general election immediately
18 following the primary election at which elected.  For a member of
19 the house of representatives, the terms shall end on the day of
20 the general election immediately following the day the member's
21 term commences.  For a member of the senate, the term shall end
22 on the day of the second general election immediately following

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                                     H.B. NO.           

 1 the day the member's term commences."
 2      SECTION 3.  The question to be printed on the ballot shall
 3 be as follows:
 4      "Shall state senators be limited to serving three
 5      consecutive four-year terms and shall state representatives
 6      be limited to serving six consecutive two-year terms
 7      beginning with terms commencing on the day of the general
 8      election of 2000?"
 9      SECTION 4.  Constitutional material to be repealed is
10 bracketed.  New constitutional material is underscored.
11      SECTION 5.  This amendment shall take effect upon compliance
12 with article XVII, section 3, of the Constitution of the State of
13 Hawaii.
15                           INTRODUCED BY:  _______________________