Even without term limits, Colorado lawmakers say good-bye

Not a single House Republican is term limited this year — which is a legislative record — but six of them won’t be coming back anyway.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with two Senate Democrats who are term limited, Lucia Guzman of Denver and Andy Kerr of Lakewood. (SOS photo)

That’s because five of the GOP members are running for another office and the sixth, Yeullin Willett of Grand Junction, chose not to run again.

Every two years, the House and Senate chambers say good-bye to the members who won’t be back, usually because of term limits, which voters approved in 1990 and went into effect in 1998. House members can serve four, two-year terms, senators can serve two, four-year terms.

On the last day of the 2018 session, on May 9, Willett pointed out how many lawmakers who were sworn in with him in 2015 were already gone, backing up the point made by the late, great political sage, Jerry Kopel.

Former lawmaker Jerry Kopel. (Dave Kopel photo)

“Term limit supporters claim it’s necessary to limit terms so legislators don’t overstay. But a little research casts doubt on the idea that overstaying was ever a problem. It would seem the whole reason for term limits is based on a myth of political junky careerist state legislators,” the former lawmaker wrote in 2008.

Kopel’s research showed that an average of 22 or 23 legislators were gone every two years without term limits being involved. Some died in office, others lost elections. And of course some resigned or chose not to run again.

This year, eight of the Senate’s 35 members are term limited. And 17 of the 65 representatives won’t return to the House next year for one reason or another. Here’s a breakdown of departing lawmakers by chamber and by caucus:

Read moreEven without term limits, Colorado lawmakers say good-bye