Lawmaker proposes increasing House terms to 4 years


FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -- A Republican state lawmakers wants to increase the term of House members from two to four years, which would make it the same as in the state Senate.

Rep. Richard Heath, R-Mayfield, is proposing a Constitutional Amendment, that if approved by the House and Senate during the upcoming General Assembly session, would be placed on the November 2020 ballot.

He told the Interim State Government Committee, “If the voters approve it in 2020, then the candidates running for office in 2022 would be affected.”

Heath’s legislation would provide for House members in even-numbered districts to receive four-year terms in 2022, while elections in odd-numbered districts would be for only two years. The latter would serve four-year terms starting with the 2024 election.

“Half of our House members would be up for election in each election cycle, instead of all 100,” Heath stated. “That’s the way the Senate does it.”

There are three reasons Heath says he is proposing the Amendment.

“Voter confusion is one reason. All of our city, county and state elections are for four-year terms. House members are the only ones that have two-year terms.”

Donor fatigue is another factor, according to Heath. “When you have to run every two years, you have to raise money almost constantly every year. You have to go and visit the same donors, it seems like.”

The third is use of time. “As citizen-legislators, we all either have a business or a job that we make our living at,” he said. “So in addition to our job or our business, we also have legislative responsibilities. Every other year, we’re on the campaign trail, spending time going door-to-door, putting up campaign signs. I think there is better use of our time than being in campaign mode.”

Heath says he knows Sen. Stephen Meredith, R-Leitchfield, has proposed bills to extend Senate terms from four to six years. “I asked him to let me run this one as a stand-alone bill, and if successful, we’ll take a look at his,” which prompted laughter from committee members.

Lawmakers convene Jan. 7, for the 2020 session.


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