Ohio voters imposed term limits on their state legislators in 1992 and apparently have never regretted it.
But a new poll suggests that while voters are satisfied with limiting lawmakers to eight consecutive years in one chamber, a majority also would be OK with extending the maximum to 12 years. And most Ohioans (61 percent) support making lawmakers’ terms longer: four years instead of two for House members, six instead of four for senators, says the Akron Buckeye Poll, conducted by the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron.
“Voters still like the idea of an overall limit on how long officials serve, although there is some flexibility on what that number should be,” said John Green, the institute’s director.
A contingent from Akron briefed legislators and staffers yesterday on the findings, and may return to present the results to the Constitutional Modernization Commission, which is currently considering changes in many of the areas on which Ohioans were polled.
Initially, 70 percent of the poll respondents said they prefer the current eight-year term limits, while 13 percent want them extended to 12 years, and 12 percent advocate repealing them. But when those preferring eight-year limits were asked if a 12-year limit would be acceptable, almost half said yes — bringing the total group amenable to a 12-year cap up to 57 percent.
In all, 57 percent say term limits have given the state “good government”; 30 percent disagree.
Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, said he thinks there is support for expanding term limits.
“When you can get (good) people to come and stay awhile — and I don’t regard eight years as a while — then I think what they can do for the state is important. We definitely have to extend it,” said the 37-year veteran.
About half of respondents say the way Ohio configures congressional and legislative districts hurts the state; about a quarter say it helps.
Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said he hopes to see a redistricting recommendation from the commission this fall. He has supported efforts to change the map-drawing process.
“If that happens, we’re ready to go,” he said. “That’s an issue Ohioans deserve to have a say in.”
The survey of 1,078 randomly chosen registered voters in Ohio, conducted in April, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
By Darrel Rowland - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
Dispatch Reporter Jim Siegel contributed to this story.
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