Key lawmaker proposes ending term limits for Senate president

Geoff Foster addresses a proposed rules change that would end a term limit for the Senate president that’s been in place for three decades.

Originally published in CommonWealth Magazine on February 7, 2023. Read more here.

A KEY LIEUTENANT to Senate President Karen Spilka is proposing a rule change — with her apparent blessing — that would scrap term limits on the chamber’s president.

The proposal would end a rule limiting the Senate president to eight consecutive years in power that’s been in place for three decades. It would put the Senate in line with the House, which has gone back and forth on the issue, but has not had a term limit for the House Speaker since 2015.

Term limits can serve as a counterweight to that the power dynamic, said Geoff Foster, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, which opposes the proposed rule change.

“Term limits help ensure there is more input from every member in the body,” said Foster. “We think it’s important to make sure that every senator has relatively similar influence, and we do know in the past that term limits helped ensure there’s at least a regular transfer of power.