A House panel Friday approved a proposal that would impose 12-year term limits on county commissioners in most of the state, after changing an earlier version of the bill that would have led to eight-year limits.
The House Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee unanimously supported the revised bill (HB 57), filed by Rep. Michelle Salzman, R-Pensacola. The bill drew opposition from county officials. Eleven counties that operate under charters already have eight- or 12-year term limits for commissioners, but most — including all rural counties — do not.
Flagler County has no term limits. Its longest-serving current members are Donald O’Brien and Dave Sullivan, both completing their second term this year, both having elected not to run again, and Greg Hansen, who was appointed to the commission in 2017 and has twice won election since.
Salzman said the bill would be “fostering fresh perspectives in local government.” But representatives of the Florida Association of Counties contended voters in each county should decide whether they want term limits.
“We assert that decisions about local representation should be made by voters themselves rather than being imposed by state Legislature,” said Charlotte County Commissioner Bill Truex, president of the Florida Association of Counties. The state Constitution addresses the structure of county commissions and sets four-year terms for commissioners but does not place limits on numbers of terms.
State lawmakers, the governor and Cabinet members have eight-year term limits. During the 2023 legislative session, lawmakers approved imposing eight-year term limits on school board members, down from previous 12-year limits. A Senate bill (SB 438) on term limits for county commissioners was approved Tuesday by the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee.
–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive