Prop 93: Changing Term Limits

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Let’s start with a few basics about term limits. Right now California legislators can serve a total of 14 years. They cap out at six in the Assembly and eight in the Senate. Governor Schwarzenegger says that’s had some negative consequences: “The special interests and the lobbyists, because they have been around Sacramento for so many more years than the legislators, they have more experience and they can represent their special interests better than the politicians can represent the people of CA.”

He’s endorsed prop. 93, which would reduce the total number of years lawmakers can serve to 12….but would allow them to serve them all in one house. Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez has been out in front of the yes campaign…if it passes, both he and Senate President Don Perata could keep their jobs a little longer.

He says the measure allows lawmakers to be more effective: “I am confident that the voters of California are going to see the wisdom in prop. 93.

 It’s not about Fabian Nunez or Don Perata. It’s about the stability that you need to bring to the legislature so that legislators can have the power to govern." Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner – a Republican – strongly disagrees. “Prop 93, just to be completely honest about it, is all about Senator Perata and Speaker Nunez. They’re the authors of prop. 93. They’re the ones who are bankrolling prop. 93 and they’re the ones who will personally benefit from prop. 93” He’s angry about a clause in the measure that allows current lawmakers to also serve a total of 12 years in their current house. He says that means many incumbent legislators could end up serving more than the 14 years allowed now. “There’s no question that prop. 93 was carefully crafted to trick voters into thinking that by shortening the total length from 14 years to 12 that it would actually shorten the amount of time that people spend in the legislature. But it actually does exactly the oppostite.”

A study by the Center for Governmental Studies found that less than half of legislators actually serve the full 14 years allowed now. Polls show voters are evenly split on the issue – but anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of voters say they haven’t made up their minds yet.