A proposed amendment to the Alabama Constitution of 1901 that would impose term limits on state legislators has been introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives and will be considered in committee.
House Bill 317 is sponsored by State Rep. David Wheeler (R-Vestavia). Republican Reps. Arnold Mooney, Mike Holmes, Rich Wingo and Bob Fincher have co-sponsored the Constitutional amendment.
The amendment, if passed, would limit members of the Alabama House and Senate to just two terms in each House plus two years if they were elected in a special session to fill a vacancy.
1819 News asked Wheeler on Saturday why he felt this amendment was needed.
“I have always thought that if it is good enough for the Constitutional officers, why is it not good enough for the legislators?” Wheeler said. “I ran on it when I campaigned for office. I have introduced this in every year that I have been in the legislature except the last one because I forgot about it due to COVID.
“The opponents say that the public could just vote out legislators if they did not like what they are doing, but I feel that it is good for the legislature. It brings in new ideas and lets people move up into the leadership faster.”
1819 News asked Wheeler about State Sen. J. T. (Jabo) Waggoner (R-Vestavia), who was first elected to the House in 1966 and, except for a brief time in the eighties, has served in the past seven decades in the Alabama Legislature and is running unopposed.
“Jabo is a good friend,” was all Wheeler said.
1819 News asked if this amendment would apply to the current legislature?
“That is correct,” Wheeler said. “Because it is a Constitutional amendment, it won’t be on the ballot until Nov., too late to go into effect for this election. Each member of the legislature could, in theory, serve another 12 years after this current term they are running for. I won’t be around in 12 years.
“There were three guys that came in in this class; they were not even 30 years old. They could potentially be here another 40 years.
HB317 is on the schedule to be considered by the House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee on Wednesday.
“I have introduced this twice before and it has never gotten a hearing,” Wheeler said. “That caught me by surprise. The Chairman, Bob Fincher, is one of my co-sponsors.”
1819 News asked if Wheeler felt this amendment could pass.
“I don’t know; it is worth a shot,” Wheeler said. “This is an election year and it plays well to the voters.
Since this bill is a Constitutional amendment, it must have a three-fifths supermajority in each House to pass. If that were to happen, it would be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot and voters could vote term limits up or down.
Tuesday will be day 10 of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.