- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A group is starting a ballot initiative that proposes limiting Mississippi lawmakers and statewide elected officials to two consecutive four-year terms in the same office.

United Conservatives Fund has filed papers to give notice that it is beginning the initiative process, fund spokesman Keith Plunkett said Monday. The first papers were filed Friday, and an update to complete the filing was submitted Monday.

People can start circulating petitions in about a month, and they’ll have a year to get signatures from more than 107,200 registered voters.

Mississippi voters defeated term-limits initiatives in 1995 and 1999.

Only the governor and lieutenant governor currently have term limits.

United Conservatives Fund is a political action committee led by Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2014 and is currently seeking a third term in the Legislature.

“The power of incumbency has built a wall between people and their representatives,” McDaniel said in a news release Monday. “This has caused an increase in cronyism, back room deals and corruption. We believe regularly changing out officeholders is a step toward transcending those problems.”

Democratic Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory, who has served at the state Capitol since 1984, said about one-third of the legislative seats turn over to new members during every four-year term. He said it helps to have some members who are new and some who have served longer.

“Even now when we’re deluged with special-interest legislation, it takes some effort and some experience to figure out why the glib story of the people who want the special-interest legislation are telling you just isn’t exactly the complete story,” Bryan said in an interview Monday at the Capitol. “That really does come with experience.”

The initiative that voters rejected in 1995 would have limited appointed and elected state and local officials and U.S. senators to two consecutive terms and judges and U.S. representatives to three terms. The one defeated in 1999 would have limited people to two terms in the state Senate and two in the state House.

Another proposal that would have limited all public officials to two consecutive terms never made it to the ballot because organizers failed to gather enough signatures.

The governor is limited to two terms. The lieutenant governor may serve no more than two consecutive terms, but after sitting out of that office for at least one term, the same person may again be elected lieutenant governor with the same limit of two consecutive terms.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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