Oregon Needs Term Limits for our State Legislators

 

Another legislative session has passed. Unfortunately, the real problems, the hard problems that face Oregon, have once again been neglected by our state legislature. Oregon needs real K-12 education reform, with the goal of improving the education and training of our children, not simply squabbling over the budget. Oregon needs to tackle the affordable housing crisis by taking down the barriers that prevent affordable housing from being built, not just subsidizing unaffordable housing for a few. Oregon needs a bold transportation plan that significantly increases road and bridge capacity, and maintains and strengthens our existing infrastructure, not a puny plan that will not end our gridlock. Oregon needs welfare reform that helps people to become strong and independent, not welfare programs that discourage independence and hard work. Oregon needs to reform and decrease the unaffordable cost of government worker’s health benefits and retirement plans, not just kick the can down the road, and hope that the problem goes away. Oregon needs TERM LIMITS for our legislators.

Many of our legislators are nice people, but most have never demonstrated real leadership outside of the political culture. Too few have been leaders in the military. Too few have started, led, or grown a significant private business. Too few have lead public or private projects that serve Oregon’s people in a significant way. Too few have any real practical experience on how to get important things done. Oregon needs TERM LIMITS for our legislators.

Despite their poor performance, when incumbent Oregon state legislators seek re-election, they win 95% of the time. There are tremendous advantages for incumbents. They have name recognition and the ability to raise money for expensive campaigns. We are told that every election is a chance to replace a failing incumbent legislator, but if that were the case, the incumbent would not win 95% of the time. Oregon needs TERM LIMITS for our state legislators.

TERM LIMITS will give the citizens of Oregon four major improvements in our democratic process. First, it will improve the quality of the candidates who seek to serve in our State Legislature. Open seats will predictably be created, and all interested candidates will seek office, when they know that they have a realistic chance to win. Candidates with busy private lives will have time to plan how to step away from private life.

Second, elections that are able to attract high quality candidates, with real uncertainty in the outcome, will generate excitement in the citizenry. When incumbents seek office, and nearly always win elections, citizens loose interest in the election process, which progressively damages our democracy.

Third, term-limited legislators are much more likely to work in a bipartisan way, and to address important problems. Important but difficult decisions are always made as the deadline approaches, and legislators will be very motivated to tackle important problems, before they leave office. Compromise and bipartisanship are much more likely to occur in a term limited legislature.

Fourth, term limited legislators will be less corrupt. Every election that a legislator is financially supported by wealthy and powerful special interest groups, those groups increasingly own that legislator. Every year that a legislator serves in the legislature, he/she becomes more a part of the political/lobbyist clan, increasing separated from Oregon’s citizens and what must be done to improve the lives of everyday Oregonians. Ordinary citizens are left with no one to truly advocate for him or her. Oregon needs TERM LIMITS for our legislators.

The proposal is simple, TERM LIMIT our legislators, just as our original citizens term limited our Governor, Secretary of State, and Treasurer in our state Constitution. Service will be limited to 8 years out of every 12-year period and can still return to start a new cycle. This simple plan gives us a real chance to create a state legislature that will be less corrupt, that will attract Oregonians of greater ability that will work in a manner that solves our great problems. I urge you to support this important measure.