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Vote 08: Term limits measure defeated

Eyewitness News coverage of Vote 08
February 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The second attempt to modify state legislators' term limits fared only slightly better than the first.Proposition 93 went down to defeat Tuesday as voters balked at allowing dozens of lame duck lawmakers to run for new terms.

Legislators in the Assembly and State Senate may have won the 'popularity contest,' but California voters eventually want them to leave. Back in 1990, California voters passed term limits.

California's current term limits are among the toughest in the nation. They allow legislators to serve six years in the Assembly and eight years in the state Senate. Add those up and you get 14 years of potential service.

But some folks say that isn't long enough.

"They don't have the time or the inclination to really learn how to do things," said Dario Frommer.

Dario Frommer and the supporters of Proposition 93 said the best way to give politicians more time to do a better job is to take time away from them.

The measure would have cut the maximum time from 14 years to 12, but it would have allowed all 12 years to be served in one house or split between the two.

Steve Poizner, California's Insurance Commissioner, said Prop. 93 was a sneaky way for lawmakers to stay in office longer.

Prop. 93 would have allowed sitting legislators to serve 12 years in their current houses, regardless of how much time they had spent in the other house. That would have allowed nearly a third of current lawmakers to serve more than 14 years.

"If 93 passes, the Assembly terms will increase by 100 percent, terms in the Senate will increase by 50 percent and 42 termed-out legislators will get to stay in office rather than get termed out," said Poizner in January.

Frommer admitted Prop. 93 would have let several lawmakers stay longer, but he said that's what made the proposition such a good idea: The people in charge of running our government, he said, would have had more time to learn how to do it better.

"If you were running a multi-billion-dollar corporation, you wouldn't tell your top executives to leave after six or eight years," said Frommer. "You would want them to be there, and have the experience of running it."

Prop. 93 would have given legislators more time in office -- by cutting their time in office.

It was the second attempt to modify term limits adopted by California voters in 1990. Proposition 45 of 2002 would have allowed termed-out legislators to run for up to four more years if they obtained voter signatures equal to at least 20 percent of the vote in their last election.

It failed after getting a little more than 42 percent of the vote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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