Vote YES on Proposition 28
TERM LIMITS REFORM
Limits On Legislators' Terms in Office
Initiative Constitutional Amendment
Note: For a full explanation of the measure and background information on it, including the fiscal effect, refer to the analysis included in the Secretary of State’s Official Voter Information Guide for Proposition 28 and the LWVCEF Pros & Cons and In Depth publications.
In 1991, the LWVUS announced opposition to term limits for Congress on the grounds that such limits would adversely affect the accountability, representativeness and effective performance of Congress, and by decreasing the power of Congress, would upset the balance of power between Congress and an already powerful presidency. The 1992 LWVUS Convention authorized state and local Leagues to use this position to take action on term limits for state and local offices. Upon recommendation from the LWVC board, delegates to the 1999 LWVC Convention voted to authorize LWVC action under the LWVUS term limits position. Background information prepared by then-Legislative Director Anne Henderson pointed out that League advocacy would probably be for the extension of terms, since actual elimination of term limits was unlikely to be feasible politically.
The LWVC supported extension of term limits in Proposition 45 of March 2002. We supported proposed legislative constitutional amendments in the 1999-2000 and 2001-2002 sessions.
We took no position on Proposition 93 of 2008, due in part to its being caught up in the politics of tradeoffs concerning whether the legislature could be induced to put a redistricting reform constitutional amendment on the ballot. Proposition 93 was soundly criticized by many for its provision that would have given some sitting legislators substantially longer time in office.
In present law as amended by Proposition 140 of 1990, the California Constitution limits the number of terms that members of the legislature can serve. Assembly members may serve no more than three two-year terms and state senators no more than two four-year terms, for a possible total of 14 years in the legislature. (Exception: If an individual is elected to finish less than one-half of another person’s term, those years served do not count against the term limit.)
This initiative would limit an individual to a total of 12 years in the legislature—in the Senate, the Assembly, or both, in any combination of terms. It applies only to legislators first elected after the measure is passed and provides that legislators elected before the measure is passed would continue to be subject to existing term limits.
The L.A. Times’ Nancy Vogel pointed out that many political scientists say that while limiting terms “has increased the Legislature’s diversity, it has also cost institutional knowledge, strengthened the hand of lobbyists and weakened the Legislature’s traditional oversight role.” Lawmakers tend to carry bills that gain them publicity rather than tackling problems that need a long-term, concentrated approach. Extending the time legislators can serve in one house will allow them to gain expertise in subject areas, reduce the campaign fundraising associated with races to change houses, and prevent frequent changes in committee chairs and leadership.
Is this measure, which reduces the total time a legislator can serve but allows someone to stay in one house for as many as 12 years, an improvement on the current system—i.e., in accord with the LWVC’s pragmatic decision to support the relaxation of term limits, rather than insisting upon their repeal? The LWVC board has concluded that it is.
Signing the ballot argument for:
- Jennifer A. Waggoner, President, League of Women Voters of California
- Kathay Feng, Executive Director, California Common Cause
- Hank Lacayo, President, Congress of California Seniors
Signing the rebuttal to the opponents’ argument:
- Dan Schnur, Chairman (2010–2011), California Fair Political Practices Commission
Signing the ballot argument against:
- Philip Blumel, President, U.S. Term Limits;
- Anita Anderson, Vice President, Parents In Charge Foundation;
- Lew Uhler, President, National Tax Limitation Committee
Signing the rebuttal to the supporters’ argument:
- Ted Costa, President, People’s Advocate, Inc.
- Kristen Lucero, Vice President, Californians for Term Limits
- Peter C. Foy, Chairman, Americans for Prosperity, California
Helen Hutchison, Vice President for Advocacy & Program, email@example.com
LWVC Senior Director for Program
1107 9th Street, Suite 300, Sacramento 95814
Note: Please adapt this letter to your own community and check your local paper’s word limit for a published letter.
On June 5, Vote Yes on Prop 28!
Prop 28 is a simple reform that will help make our legislature more accountable. It reduces the lifetime limit to 12 years and closes the “17-year loophole” by imposing a strict limit based on the number of years served in the legislature, not on the number of terms. That means less time for politics, and more time for lawmakers to develop expertise and get things done.
Let's face it, our current term limits law needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, many of our state representatives spend a great deal of time seeking the next office instead of fulfilling their obligation to address the state's complex issues. One of the unintended consequences of the current term limit law is politicians are allowed to complete unexpired terms that could allow legislators to serve nearly 17 years in office.
Read it yourself. Prop 28 does exactly what it says it will do. There are no games, no gimmicks and no exceptions.
I support Proposition 28 which will modify California’s term limits law. Legislators are currently limited to three terms in the Assembly and two terms in the state Senate. Prop 28 will reduce this fourteen-year limit to twelve years. Legislators will be allowed to serve the whole twelve years in either house of the legislature, or in a combination of terms in the two houses. Legislators will no longer be constantly looking for the next office to run for, and will have time to develop expertise and get things done.
Vote YES on Proposition 28.