by Tim Storey
The NCSL staff are working on a project to update the NCSL website. As part of that, I am one of many staff looking through older pages on the site. One page I was checking listed legislative leaders from October of 2008. As I looked at the list, I noticed how few of the names seemed to match the 2013 leaders list. I decided to find out how many leaders are serving in their roles today who were not in leadership just prior to the 2008 election.
I assumed that the turnover would be fairly high, but I wasn't quite prepared for how high. We have a list of about 340 leadership positions that we recognize as the top legislative leaders in the 50 states. It's generally the house speakers and senate presidents plus the pro tems, majority and minority leaders.
Only 17% of the people who were in those top leadership positions just four and a half years ago are still in leadership today. Some of those legislators are in different positions, having moved from minority leader to speaker, for example. Only 13% of the leaders serving in October of 2008 are in the same positions today.
The 15 states with term limits account for some of the change among leaders as well as the two high turnover elections in '08 and '10. It's also a very demanding job being a legislative leader.
So, if you are a legislative leader with more than five years tenure in your position, you are in elite company.