SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Is the latest attempt to modify California’s term limits law a smart compromise or a dishonest power grab? In two weeks, California voters will decide the issue – once again.

22 years ago, Californians put limits on how long state legislators could serve: six years in the Assembly, eight in the Senate, a total of 14 altogether. Attempts to loosen those limits have failed in the past, but now there’s Proposition 28, which is supported by the League of Women Voters, and Philip Ung with California Common Cause.

“This one is a middle of the road compromise that, one, reduces the number of years but also brings increased accountability to the Legislature by allowing them to serve twelve years in one house or a combination of both houses,” Ung reasoned.

Ung argues that, by permiting only twelve years of total service but allowing it to be all within the same house, the state will realize more experienced, capable legislators – instead of terming them out so quickly that they’re always running for the next office.

“What you see is a situation where they’re relying on special interests or unelected staff to make a lot of the decisions,” he suggested. “And I don’t think that is what they’re elected for, to rely on staff and lobbyists but to make decisions based on what’s best for the State of California.”

Not so, counters Philip Blumel, president of US Term Limits.

“It’s not an honest proposition,” he argued. “The purpose of it is to fool voters into voting for it and weakening the term limits laws in California even if the voters themselves believe in term limits.”

Blumel argues that most lawmakers don’t even jump houses after their term runs out, and Prop 28 will let Assemblymembers double their time in Sacramento and Senators increase theirs by 50%.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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