Term limits initiative submits 590,000 signatures, one step closer to ballot
A ballot measure that would limit state legislators to eight years in office cleared a major hurdle today. In a press conference, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner announced that the group, The Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, is submitting more than 590,000 petition signatures in support of a term limits constitutional initiative. The number of signatures is nearly double the 300,000 minimum requirement, and the large number will discourage opposition from challenging signatures in an attempt to keep the measure off the ballot. If the amendment is successful in appearing on the ballot, there’s an outstanding chance that the measure will be passed, with a recent poll showing nearly 80% of residents in support of term limits. However, the term limits proposal may be challenged on other grounds. In 1994, after a challenge from the Chicago Bar Association, a term limits proposal was ruled unconstitutional because it did not meet the Illinois constitutional requirement of addressing procedural and structural changes to the Illinois Legislature. The 2014 term limits proposal appears to address both issues. The proposal would change the structure of the Illinois General Assembly by increasing the number of House districts from 118 to 123, while shrinking the number of Senate districts from 59 to 41. Addressing the procedural requirement, the proposal would increase the number of votes needed to override a governor’s veto from a three-fifths to a two-thirds majority. The submission of the 590,000 signatures in support of term limits comes only one day after two Illinois Senate Democrats blocked an executive term limits proposal by GOP leaders. Brian Costin is Director of Government Reform for the Illinois Policy Institute.