ON-Lion Letter
The makeup of the Wisconsin state legislature, according to a new report by Christian Schneider for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI), "does not reflect Wisconsin.  Most notably, the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate have gotten much older in the past three decades, crowding out younger citizens looking to be involved in state government.

"In 1977, the average age for senators and representatives was 43 and 42, respectively," Schneider writes in The Case for Term Limits in Wisconsin.  "By 2007, those averages had jumped to 55 and 50."

Schneider, a WPRI fellow, spent eight years working for the state legislature.
 
"The Wisconsin Assembly is fifth lowest in the nation in turnover rate, while the Wisconsin Senate boasts the seventh lowest turnover rate," he notes in the report, a video on which is also available online.  "Between 1963 and 1985, the Legislature averaged 29 new members per session.  Between 1985 and 2007, that number had dropped to 19."

"Term limits can be an effective means of bringing competition back to Wisconsin elections, offering voters real alternatives," he concludes.  "Term limits would reduce the careerist nature of legislative service.  While not guaranteeing better decision making, it would allow legislators to govern with a long-term perspective in mind, rather than passing new laws with short-term interests at heart.  Finally, it could engage the younger generation in the political process, to which they have grown more disinterested as legislators grow older and stay in office longer."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports WPRI.
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