SISTER STATES, MORE FEMALE LEGISLATORS
IN TERM LIMITS ERA
(October 2012) Former President Bill Clinton noted Arkansas and Michigan are sister states1 during a March 1997 speech to the Michigan legislature. Arkansas and Michigan share another distinction: the number of female legislators has increased significantly since the people2 approved similar term limits constitutional amendments3 by landslide margins4 in 1992.
Legislators in both states are limited to no more than six years in the House of Representatives and eight years in the Senate. Amendment 73 to the Arkansas Constitution limits members of the State House of Representatives to three two-year terms, and members of the State Senate to two four-year terms. Article 4, Section 54 of the Michigan Constitution states no person shall be elected state representative more than three times and state senator more than two times.
More Female Legislators
There were 9 female Arkansas legislators when term limits were approved in 1992. There were 23 female legislators serving in Michigan that year.
Arkansas and Michigan term limits took effect for House members in 1998.
Arkansas term limits for Senate members took effect in 2000. They took effect in Michigan in 2002.
Two decades later there are 30 female Arkansas legislators and 31 women serving in Michigan.5
The number of female legislators serving in the sister states of Arkansas and Michigan has increased significantly since the people approved term limits in 1992.
1 Arkansas entered the United States in June 1836. Michigan followed in January 1837.
2 Article 2, Section 1 of the Arkansas Constitution states, “All political power is inherent in the people and government is instituted for their protection, security and benefit; and they have the right to alter, reform or abolish the same, in such manner as they may think proper.” Article 1, Section 1 of the Michigan Constitution states: “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal benefit, security and protection.”
3 The preamble to the Arkansas amendment includes the following statement: “The people of Arkansas find and declare that elected officials who remain in office too long become preoccupied with reelection and ignore their duties as representatives of the people. Entrenched incumbency has reduced voter participation and has led to an electoral system that is less free, less competitive, and less representative than the system established by the Founding Fathers.”
4 The people of Arkansas approved term limits by a 60-40 percent margin in 1992. The people of Michigan approved term limits by a 59-41 percent margin the same year.
5 Arkansas Senate (1991-92): Chaffin (1). Arkansas House (1991-92): Brownlee, Hunter, Jones, Northcutt, Pollan, Roberts, Shexnayder, and Smith (8). Arkansas Senate (2011-12): Bledsoe, Chesterfield, Elliott, Flowers, Irvin, Madison, Salmon, and Whitaker (8). Arkansas House (2011-12): Benedict, Bradford, Clemmer, Collins-Smith, Dickinson, English, Hickerson, Hobbs, Hopper, Hutchinson, Lampkin, Lea, Malone, Overbey, Pennartz, Post, Roebuck, Rogers, Slinkard, Tyler, Wagner, and Webb (22).
Michigan Senate (1991-92): Emmons, Pollack, and Stabenow (3). Michigan House (1991-92): Banks, Barns, Berman, Bodem, Brown, Byrum, Dalman, Dobb, Dobronski, Dolan, Gire, Goss, Hunter, Johnson, Kilpatrick, Munsell, O’Connor, Stallworth, Varga, and Yokich (20). Michigan Senate (2011-12): Emmons, Schuitmaker, Whitmer, and Warren (4). Michigan House (2011-12): Barnett, Bauer, Brown, Byrum, Denby, Haines, Hovey-Wright, Howze, Hughes, Jackson, Jenkins, Kowall, LaFontaine, Lane, Lipton, Liss, Lyons, Oakes, O’Brien, Price, Segal, Shaughnessy, Slaven, Stapleton, Talabi, Tlaib, and Tyler (27).