Bills to elect judges and limit the number of terms that state lawmakers can serve are likely dead this legislative session. But a measure that would let voters elect the state attorney general is still alive.

The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, chaired by Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, indefinitely deferred Senate Bill 2753 and Senate Bill 2239 on Wednesday.

There was strong opposition to SB 2239, introduced by Keith-Agaran and seven other senators. The bill proposed a constitutional amendment requiring judges to be elected to six-year terms instead of being appointed.

Senator Gilbert Keith Agaran during hearing on Senate Transportation. Capitol. 19 march 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, seen here during a hearing last session, gave a hearing to a bill to establish legislative term limits but ultimately deferred it. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Introduced by Sens. Laura Thielen, Russell Ruderman and Lorraine Inouye, SB 2753 proposed a constitutional amendment to limit the terms of state lawmakers to a maximum of 12 consecutive years, starting with the 2020 elections.

Legislative term limits have been discussed for years, but bills have struggled to gain traction. Some observers were surprised Keith-Agaran even gave the bill a hearing.

There were more than three dozen pages of written testimony in support, and no opposition. Many highlighted the negative side of “career politicians.” Nonetheless, the committee indefinitely deferred the bill.

Senate Bill 2418, also introduced by Keith-Agaran, proposes a constitutional amendment to elect the state attorney general. It cleared the Senate last week despite strong opposition from Doug Chin, the current AG, and numerous lawyers.

Sens. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Josh Green, Gil Riviere, Sam Slom and Brian Taniguchi voted against it. The bill will now be considered by the House.

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