State legislative term limits and the law of unintended consequences: An examination of member behavior, power structures, and legislative organization in Florida

Kathryn Andrews DePalo, Florida International University

Abstract

The implementation of term limits on state legislators has provided a wealth of data for study. Florida, the second largest state in the Union with term limits, has not been comprehensively studied. This research examines the effects of term limits on electoral competition, member composition, legislator career paths, legislative leadership, and intra- and inter-governmental influences on Florida's legislature. This study looks at the Florida legislature from 1992 when term limits were enacted through 2004, three electoral cycles in which term limits have been in effect. This study uses both quantitative and qualitative data where appropriate. Electoral data is used to assess electoral and demographic effects, as well as member career trajectories. Interview data with current and former legislators, lobbyists, and executive branch officials is used to analyze both changes in legislative organization and intra- and inter-governmental influences on the legislative process. Term limits has only created greater competition when a legislative seat opens and has actually created a greater advantage for incumbents. Women and minorities have only made minimal gains in winning seats post-term limits. Newly elected legislators are not political novices with a vast majority having previous elective experience. Leadership is more centralized under term limits and the Senate has gained an advantage over the more inexperienced House. Lastly, the influence of staff, lobbyists, and most importantly, the governor has greatly increased under term limits. This research finds that term limits have not produced the consequences that proponents had envisioned.^

Subject Area

Political Science, General

Recommended Citation

DePalo, Kathryn Andrews, "State legislative term limits and the law of unintended consequences: An examination of member behavior, power structures, and legislative organization in Florida" (2006). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3235928.
http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI3235928

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