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Panel Rejects Consecutive Terms for Governor

House subcommittee rejects Senate amendment to allow Virginia governors to serve two consecutive terms.

By Shelby Mertens, Capital News Service

A House subcommittee has rejected the Senate’s proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Virginia governors to serve two consecutive terms starting in 2017.

Sen. Thomas Garrett, R-Lynchburg, introduced Senate Joint Resolution 276. The amendment passed in the Senate on  Jan. 28 with a 25-15 bipartisan vote: 16 Democrats and nine Republicans voted for it, while 11 Republicans and four Democrats opposed it.

When the Senate resolution “crossed over” to the House this week, however, it ran into trouble.

The proposed amendment was assigned to the House Committee on Privileges and Elections. This week, that panel’s Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee recommended tabling the bill, killing it for this session.

Virginia is the only state that does not allow governors to serve consecutive terms. Fourteen states have no gubernatorial term limits; 27 have a two-consecutive-term limit; and four limit governors to two consecutive or nonconsecutive terms.

Petersen was one of the proposal's largest critics in the Senate, fearing a multiple-term governor could open the door to a full-time Senate, instead of the citizen legislature that has been in place for the past 225 years, he said on the Senate floor last month.

Two identical House proposals met a similar fate in the same subcommittee, dying at “crossover” on Feb. 5, the deadline for legislation to clear the House or Senate.

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