By Matt Viser, Globe Staff
State Representative Karyn Polito filed a constitutional amendment today that would place 12-year term limits on Massachusetts legislators, a proposal that comes as a direct result of recent scandals on Beacon Hill.
“If we really want to change the culture on Beacon Hill, end entrenched bad practices and level the balance of power, we need a system that encourages fresh ideas and fresh perspectives,” said Polito, a Republican from Shrewsbury. “Allowing the same people to remain in power for decades is not healthy for our democracy and our state.”
Polito's amendment likely faces an uphill climb in a Legislature that is dominated by Democratic incumbents. For the changes to be made, the state Constitution would have to be modified. It would need the approval of a majority during two consecutive sessions, and then ratified by voters at the the ballot box.
If it were approved, state legislators would only be allowed to serve in the House or Senate for a total of 12 years, or six legislative terms, in their lifetime. The new law would apply to candidates elected or members reelected after the constitutional amendment is approved by voters.
Among currently serving Massachusetts legislators, about 40 percent have served 12 years or more, according to Polito.
Fifteen other states currently impose term limits on legislators, including Maine, Ohio, California, Florida, and Louisiana.
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