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Surprise! Hoffman Plans Petition for Stricter Legislative Term Limits

Did I miss something? Yesterday, Attorney General Marty Jackley released a draft explanation for Senator Brent Hoffman’s (R-9/Sioux Falls) proposed initiative to revise Legislative term limits. But I’ve been looking at the Secretary of State’s Potential Ballot Questions webpage on a regular basis, and I haven’t seen and even this morning do not see any mention of a term-limits initiative.

Receiving an Attorney General’s draft explanation usually takes the fully statutorily allowed 60 days. The Legislative Research Council usually takes 15 days before that to review initial ballot question drafts, and LRC isn’t even supposed to respond to ballot question drafts until the Legislature adjourns at the end of March. Secretary of State Monae Johnson either wanted to hide this proposal or just forgot to post it (leaving me wonder how many surprise initiatives may be waiting in the wings), but A.G. Jackley attaches Hoffman’s March 28 submission letter:

Sen. Brent Hoffman, proposed Legislative term limits initiative, letter to Attorney General Marty Jackley, 2023.03.28.
Sen. Brent Hoffman, proposed Legislative term limits initiative, letter to Attorney General Marty Jackley, 2023.03.28.

Senator Hoffman apparently wants to put his Senate Resolution 504, which died a quick death in Senate State Affairs on February 13, to a public vote. Hoffman must have submitted that text to LRC while the Legislature was still meeting. According to his March 28 letter, the LRC picked up his submission and issued its comments on March 27, while the Senate and House gavels were still hot from the final strike of adjournment. Jackley thus appears to have taken his full 60 days to issue his draft title and explanation.

The substantive change Hoffman seeks is to turn the current term limits, which prohibit legislators from serving more than four consecutive terms in either chamber, into a somewhat toothier lifetime limit of four terms in the House and four terms in the Senate. As I already say, we already have term limits: they’re called elections. If voters think the best person to represent them is a person who has already represented them for one, four, or eleven terms in Pierre, government should not deny voters that desired and experienced representation.

But after the superfluous 20-day comment/revision period for the A.G.’s title and explanation, Senator Hoffman will be able to file his petition with the Secretary of State (let’s hope she remembers to process and post it) and take his argument to the voters.


  1. John 2023-05-26

    The example of US Senator’s Feinstein and Grassley indicate that the voters, in the heat of a campaign, may not practice the best judgment at elections. Elections are a form of term limits so long as one does not put full faith in elections.
    Our US and SD representatives ought have the same penultimate term limit as does the SD Supreme Court justices – age 70. That’s enough. Move on. Move over.
    And if it didn’t violate the sacred dogma of ‘single subject’ – the clause about reimbursing legislators five cents per mile ought be changed to merely reimburse legislators for mileage at the prevailing US IRS rate.

  2. Bob Newland 2023-05-26

    John should explore the definition of “penultimate.”

  3. John 2023-05-26

    Bob, death is the ultimate term limit. Penultimate is the next to last. The comment stands. Thank you.

  4. Donald Pay 2023-05-26

    I would vote for this simple and straightforward proposal. I would even circulate a petition for it. It simply closes the current loophole in the current term limit amendment. Elections are different from term limits. Often elections do not present voters with a choice. Term limits provide more opportunity for turnover and choice.

  5. All Mammal 2023-05-26

    Good lord. I can’t handle that disgusting font.

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