The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

    Term limits law a much-needed reform

    The Opinion of the LA VOZ Weekly Editorial Board

    This week La Voz continues an ongoing series in which we endorse student positions on key votes included in California’s upcoming Feb. 5 presidential primary ballot.

    Pop quiz: What should the state of California do to ensure that its highways remain safe and in good condition over the next 30 years? In what markets should the state invest its funds in order to generate enough revenue to pay back the billions of dollars in bonds it owes? How will our social service infrastructure – including state-funded schools and hospitals – be affected by rising rates of immigration?

    Chances are that few, if any, of us can proffer serious answers to all three of these questions. Most people, in fact, can’t even respond to one of these questions with a highly detailed analysis.

    Unfortunately, the current term limits imposed upon California state legislators require them to deal with issues as diverse as these on a daily basis, despite having little or no prior experience to draw upon.

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    If you haven’t figured it out yet, the extraordinary statesman is a rare breed in American politics. Most politicians are regular people just like you and me – and, similar to us, they may be very well educated in one or two particular fields, but they’re hardly masters of the universe. In order for them to function effectively, they have to accrue a great deal of experience in order to become knowledgeable not only with regards to the issues, but also with regards to the intricacies of various government procedures through which those issues can be addressed.

    In 1990, California voters passed Proposition 140, what the San Jose Mercury News calls “the nation’s tightest term-limits law.” Legislators may serve only six years in the Assembly and only eight years in the Senate. Unfortunately, this means that by the time legislators have enough experience under their belt to start making good decisions, they have to leave office, making room for a new crop of “rookies” who are thrust into powerful positions without the necessary know-how.

    Prop 93 would shorten the total amount of time legislators can serve (from 14 years to 12 years), but would also allow them to serve that entire period in one house.

    Although an imperfect law (there would be a transition period that would allow some legislators to serve up to 18 years total, and there is an issue of legislators establishing entrenched interests in one house over time), Prop 93’s benefits would outweigh its harms. California would lose fewer of its most capable public servants, and the Legislature would become more efficient overall. On Feb. 5, vote “Yes” on Prop 93.

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