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Wheeler introduces term limits bill on term limits day

State Rep. David Wheeler, R-Vestavia Hills, announced that he has pre-filed a bill to enact term limits for members of the State House of Representatives and State Senate.

“I have been a long time supporter of term limits,” Wheeler said. “It was one of the issues I was most asked about during the last campaign. Poll after poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly support them. I think this measure addresses that desire, without penalizing incumbents who have selflessly served our great state.”

The bill proposes an amendment to the state constitution, which would place a two-term limit on State House and Senate members, and allowing anyone who filled a mid-term vacancy an additional two years of service, starting with the 2022 elections.

While this would also apply to incumbents running for re-election in that election cycle, their previous years of service would not be counted against them. It also allows members of the House to run for the Senate, and visa versa, after their initial two terms.

To pass both houses of the legislature would have to vote for the bill and the measure would still have to be approved by the voters in the November 2020 general election.

Sen. Bill Hightower, R-Mobile, introduced term limits legislation in the last quadrennium; but his bill failed on the floor of the House of origin.

Wednesday was National Term Limits Day. On this date in 1951, the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified limiting the president of the United States to just two terms.

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State Sen. James Thomas “Jabo” Waggoner, R-Vestavia, was elected to the House of Representatives from 1966 to 1983 and has served in the state Senate from 1990 to the present.

Opponents of term limits argue that they deprive the legislature of the institutional knowledge that members who have served for multiple decades bring. Opponents also argue that voters already could choose to term limit an incumbent simply by not re-electing them.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states may not impose term limits on members of Congress. The state of Alabama has passed legislation calling for an Article V amendment convention to pass term limits on members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

Wheeler represents House District 47, which includes portions of Vestavia Hills and Hoover. He has just started his first term in office.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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