The Senate Administration Committee is considering a constitutional change that would increase the number of years a legislator can serve from eight to 16 years.

Supporters said Wednesday that House Bill 277 would let legislators hold office for 16 years within a 24-year period. Current limits were approved by voters in the 1990s.

Democratic Rep. Bill McChesney of Miles City says his plan gives lawmakers the extra time needed to maintain relationships and gain the institutional knowledge required for dealing with complex issues.

Opponents say the measure would enable lawmakers to gain unbridled power and create a "good-old-boy system" of entrenched party leaders.

The measure has already overwhelmingly cleared the House and is well on its way to getting the two-thirds support needed from the Legislature.

Voters would then see the measure in 2014.