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Another Term Limits Reform Measure Gathers Steam

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 15:46:45 PM PST

I've never really hidden my disdain for the term limits we have in California. It only serves to gather power in unelected staff and lobbyists. Six years just isn't enough, and the merry-go-round of elections just doesn't really help anybody.

So, a few months ago, the LA Chamber of Commerce and the LA Labor Fed got together to file an initiative that would basically do what Prop 93 a few years ago would have done. That is change the term limits to allow 12 years in either house, rather than 6 in one, and 8 in another. It seems now, that is more likely to get on the ballot after a big check arrived in the bank account:

The developer of a proposed NFL stadium in Los Angeles County has donated $300,000 to change the state's term limits law. Seed money for the political committee, Californians for a Fresh Start, has come from three major donors within the past two weeks. The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce has donated $10,000, the L.A . County Federation of Labor has donated $100,000 and  Majestic Realty, the developer, has given $300,000.

Proponents of the measure are hoping to place it on the November 2010 ballot.(CapWeekly)

Well, politics isn't pretty is it? You have a big stadium deal pushed through verrrrry late in the legislative session. And oh, look at that, a term limits measure appears out of nowhere. Wow!

But, whatever the motivation for term limits reform, it's a good idea. I'm not sure it would be my top priority, that would be reserved for eliminating supermajority requirements, but good policy nonetheless.

UPDATE by Robert: As I understand it, the difference between this and Prop 93 is that currently serving legislators would be exempted, whereas under Prop 93, they would have been included. That helps this proposal be seen less as incumbent protection and as the sensible reform it actually is.

Brian Leubitz :: Another Term Limits Reform Measure Gathers Steam
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otoh (0.00 / 0)
Serving longer in a particular house is a worthwhile goal, but why do we have to reduce total legislative service from 14 years to 12 years?  Under this proposal, Sheila Kuehl would have been forced out of office two years earlier.  A better reform would be incrementally expanding the time a person may be a legislator, such as allowing four assembly terms rather than three.

The argument is that cutting total service will trick pro-term limits voters into supporting the measure.  I'm not sure it will, but even if it did, I'm tired of proposals that are based on tricking people about their real goals.  Far too much of that has happened already.  We don't like it when the bad guys do it, and we shouldn't like it when our friends do it, either.

And the provenance of the measure smells funny.  I don't know whether certain legislators cut a deal with the stadium developer to grant exemptions from environmental and procedural laws in exchange for cash to an initiative -- but that's certainly what it looks like.  And the appearance of corruption is corrosive to public trust and the public interest -- something that is at least as important as how long a legislator gets to be speaker or president pro tem.

Work for majority rule (0.00 / 0)
Hi DavidT,

I wanted to thank you for your decisive critique of the Field poll on Majority rule. I'm going to be using it in my speech tonight at Potrero Hill Democratic club.

Are you involved with the California Majority Rule campaign? We could sure use someone with your argumentative skills as a speaker and speaker trainer. Sorry to contact you this way, but I couldn't find an email address for you. Please contact me if you're interested at mcmf at sfo dot com.

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