The Sky Is Falling, The Sky is Falling: TERM LIMITS 2018
First published at www.conduitforaction.org
Some legislators are running around in circles telling us, “The sky is falling!” Why? Because of Issue #3 for stronger term limits.
In 2013 the legislature proposed weaker term limits to appear on the 2014 ballot. To get it passed they used layers and layers of deception. First, it was tucked inside an amendment to the constitution sold as an “ethics” amendment. Second, at the end of a long ballot title it said it was ESTABLISHING term limits when it was actually weakening term limits. It was a Trojan Horse to catch the voters unaware.
Recently, Senator Bart Hester warned, if the voters approve the new term limits all but four of the 35 senators would be prohibited from running for re-election in 2022 and several dozen representatives would be barred from seeking re-election in 2020. “When you make [term limits] so extreme and so fast, turnover is a concern,”Hester said.[i]
Wait! Legislators are overplaying the victim card. (Shouldn’t that be a 15yd penalty and loss of down?)
FIRST, the only reason there will be an initially higher turnover once Issue #3 is implemented is due to the 2014 Trojan Horse which stopped the normal turn over that would have happened under the 1994 term limits amendment.
Do legislators think they should still benefit from their 2014 deception? Actually, some legislators are already getting to keep the fruits of their deception because some of them would not have been eligible to run this year if the 1994 term limits were still in effect.
SECOND, the statement might lead you to think at the end of 2022, thirty-one Senators suddenly will be gone. No, that is not how it works. Half of the thirty-five senators are up for re-election in 2022. With the Senate having staggered terms, new blood will be coming in for 2020 and will soften the transition. Remember, under the term limits adopted in 1994 there was always turnover in both houses and the legislative process didn’t falter because of turnover.
THIRD, supposedly there will be “several dozen representatives” barred from running for re-election in 2020. Have legislators forgotten so quickly that under the term limits passed in 1994 several dozen representatives were always new? In 2015 there were forty-six (46) new representatives in the House of Representative. Did the sky fall then? Of course not. (Some Democrats may think the sky fell then due to turnover. You see in 2015 the Republican majority substantially increased.)
Legislature’s Power vs Governor’s Power
The Democrat-Gazette cited House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, as saying: the proposed amendment would weaken the Legislature compared with other branches of state government and weaken the House compared with the Senate.[ii] This argument is baloney.
Under both the term limits passed in 1994 and under the new Issue #3 the term limit for the House is three two-year terms (6yrs) and there is no change in the term limits for Governor, which is only two four-year terms (8yrs). The Trojan Horse was passed in 2014 which means it had no impact on longer terms until some representative began serving longer beginning in 2017.
Are legislators saying the House of Representatives suddenly got more powerful in 2017? Uh? Last we checked the House of Representatives rarely said “no” to Governor Hutchinson in 2017 or 2018. No, there has NOT BEEN ANY surge of power for the House of Representatives versus the Governor.
As for the idea that the House would become weaker against the Senate, perhaps he forgot that legislation still has to pass BOTH the House and Senate.
Term Limits and Lobbyist Influence
Lobbyists provide legislators with the equivalent of thousands of dollars of free food and drink. Lobbyists give legislators campaign donations and, even better, arrange campaign fundraisers for legislators.
Under the current longer legislative term limits, lobbyists don’t have to worry about as many contested races and can focus on protecting (or getting rid of) just a few legislators.
What do you think – under the current (deceptively passed) term limits does their longer service make legislators more powerful against the lobbyists and their bosses, or does each additional year in the legislature put most (not all) legislators more and more under the influence of lobbyists and their bosses?
– Where are you going? – asks Foxey Loxey [the lobbyist].
– The sky is falling and we are going to the lion to tell him about it, – says Ducky Lucky.
– Do you know where he lives? – asks the fox.
– I don’t, – says Chicken Little.
– I don’t, – says Henny Penny.
– I don’t, – says Ducky Lucky.
– I do, – says Foxey Loxey. – Come with me and I can show you the way.
He walks on and on until he comes to his den.
– Come right in, – says Foxey Loxey.
They all go in, but they never, never come out again.[iii]
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Be for stronger term limits. Be against stronger term limits. But don’t tell us the sky is falling!