State House -- The House Judiciary Committee today gave unanimous passage to a Joint Resolution which would amend the Rhode Island Constitution to provide for eight-year term limits for the positions of Speaker of the House and Senate President.
Speaker William J. Murphy testified before the committee on behalf of the resolution <a href="http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText03/HouseText03/H5000.htm
" target="new">(2003 - H5000)</a> , which he introduced along with Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox, Majority Whip Rene R. Menard, Deputy Whip Charlene M. Lima and Minority Leader Robert A. Watson.
“Eight years is more than sufficient time for a House Speaker and Senate President to implement an agenda for the state,” Murphy told committee members. “This will allow the Membership to have new leadership every eight years for certain, which is healthy for our democracy. It will foster new ideas to be brought before each chamber, and will ensure more accountability from each Leader’s chamber.”
Murphy said the legislation is consistent with the eight-year term limits, established by the voters, for the state’s general officers.
“The House Speaker and Senate President should not serve any longer than a governor is allowed,” Murphy told the committee.
He pointed out that the amendment would only apply to these two positions and not to the membership as a whole. Murphy said he does not support term limits for members.
Passage of this legislation was one of first priorities established by the new House leadership team. The bill will be on the House calendar on Wednesday, January 29.