Date of Award

8-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Political Science

Major Professor

John Scheb

Committee Members

Patricia Freeland, Robert Gorman, Robert Jones

Abstract

The proposed research is a comparative case study of State governments that have attempted to repeal State legislative ‘term limits’ (N = 8). The study will examine the institutional processes and the behavior of political actors culminating in an institutional output in the form of legislative statutes and judicial decisions concerning the repeal of term limit legislation. The theoretical propositions explored in this research are derived from decision-making theories, democratic theories of representation, and the findings of the literature on State legislative term limits. The States selected are Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. All of the legislative and judicial decisions included in this research occurred between the dates of September 1999 and May 2004. The methodologies employed include: empirical analysis of numeric data, content analysis of official documents regarding judicial decisions and legislative statutes, and impressionistic examinations of other possible relationships. The goals of this research are to generate testable hypotheses as to which factors had an effect on the decision to either repeal or retain State legislative term limits, and then to empirically test those hypotheses in a holistic manner. The positive findings for legislative decisions pertain to institutional structure and to a lesser extent voter preference. Judicial decision-making is found to rely on the legal model, focusing on the wording and clarity of term limit measures and pertinent portions of state constitutions.

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