Term Limits in California

Legislative Term Limits were created by the passage of Proposition 140 in 1990. Passed with 52.2%. In the two decades since 1991, 402 individuals have served in the Legislature. 

26 termed out of both houses
58 termed out of just the State Senate
147 termed out of just the State Assembly
201 have not termed out of either house*

  • Not Termed out of Either House: The single largest subgroup of those legislators in the “not termed out of either house” are those who are currently in office. Of the others; two died in office, two were recalled, three went to prison, four left after receiving judicial appointments, 18 lost reelection bids (4 lost reelection primaries), 48 left to run for other offices (which 26 won and 22 lost). Finally, five resigned early and fourteen just decided not to seek another term.


Other notes:

  • David A. Roberti was the first legislator to be affected by term limits.
  • Bill Leonard was the first legislator to term out in both houses. Leonard was also the first person to term out of the Legislature and an executive branch office (the Board of Equalization).
  • Tom Bates was the first legislator to challenge California’s term limits law in court. The court upheld term limits.