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Our View: Prop. 28 lets voters keep consistency in capitol

Posted: May 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.

For those of you who don’t know, there’s a state election taking place in about a month. Yes, another election. Besides the primary election for president, the newly installed open primary elections for state Assembly and Congress and a few propositions, on June 5, Californians are being asked to vote for a state constitutional amendment for legislator term limits.

As of the passing of Proposition 140 in 1990, representatives in Sacramento have been limited to three terms — six years total — in the Assembly and two terms — eight years total — in the state Senate. The initial motivation for this was to try to clear out so-called career politicians who were re-elected again and again often because they lacked any real opposition from their districts. It aimed to put an end to politicians who focused on only their own interests over the needs of their constituents.

While it seemed a good move at the time, California has since had to deal with the negative consequences of rushing legislators out the door. So, Proposition 28 is on the June 5 ballot to alter Proposition 140 and give voters a chance at keeping quality representatives for longer.

Proposition 28 would change the total time a legislator could serve from 14 total years (six in Assembly and eight in Senate) to 12 total years, but they could serve all of those years in either house, instead of splitting between both. So, if passed, an Assembly member could serve six terms, and a state senator could serve for three terms. The change applies only to legislators first elected after the measure is passed.

This proposition has in mind all those in the Santa Clarita Valley who are disappointed that our local representative and former City Councilman Cameron Smyth is forced to leave office at the end of this year after serving just six years as a capable and effective Assembly member in Sacramento.

Proposition 28 is a good move because it still keeps representatives from serving lifelong terms, but also it allows elected officials to spend more time on the issues people face in their districts, and reduces the amount of time focused on looking for their next political job.

Lastly, we believe Proposition 28 has one other intended benefit — it allows the legislature to retain some vital experience in government. A good percentage of politicians are new to their jobs after each election. A group of slightly more experienced, focused representatives might bring greater stability to California.

Even if you don’t agree with our view, remember to get out and participate in the June 5 election and speak your mind with your votes.


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