TIM SKUBICK: Voters don’t care about ‘reasonable’
This scheme is so logical that you have to wonder why nobody came up with it earlier. And the fact that it is so logical means it probably doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of passing in the legislature.
Now comes the affable Senate GOP leader with less than a year to serve before he’s automatically sent to the legislative retirement heap thanks to term limits. Sen. Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) seeks to leave his mark on the process by “modifying” the state’s term limit law.
Nothing new there. Ever since voters embraced the booting-out-of-office notion in 1992, some lawmakers and special interest groups have pondered, unsuccessfully, how to change the law to allow legislators to hang around for more than six years in the house and eight years in the senate, the most restrictive law in the land.
Mr. Richardville’s approach amounts to an end-run around the law but with voter participation.
It’s based on the long-held belief that citizens don’t want politicians to stay in office for life, but they like their local lawmaker. Hence the Richardville plan would allow local lawmakers to gather petition signatures just when their careers are about to end and if he or she gets enough names, he or she could run for office again, and again and again if voters decide to send them back to this town.
“I think it’s a reasonable request,” the GOP honcho tells the MIRS news guys.
Just like the word “logical,” the term “reasonable” is another reason why this probably won’t float.
First of all, lawmakers would have to vote to place this change on the statewide ballot and a majority of citizens would have to approve it. However just opening that debate would lay legislators open to all sorts of brick bats from the pro-term limit cabal which has fought tooth and nail to avoid any alterations, reasonable or otherwise.
Mr. Richardville seeks to insulate everyone from those attacks by preventing current legislators from taking advantage of the switch. It would only impact new lawmakers elected under this revision.
As if that would mollify the opponents who will argue, the voters have spoken and this is just another attempt to undo what they did.
But the proponents of the change could argue if you applied that concept to other laws, we’d still have women who could not vote and own property.
The term limit law would remain on the books per se. And after six or eight years, a lawmaker would be under no obligation to run again. They could move out and new blood would move in which is what the T.L. folks intended in the first place.
But if lawmaker X, Y or Z felt, as many now do, that they are just beginning to learn the ins and outs of being a legislator and they have more to offer, they would have this option to seek voter support to run again.
And on that point, for whatever it is worth, you will find many current legislators who supported term limits when they were on the outside looking in, but now on the inside looking out, they see the world differently. They realize that it takes time to become more effective and just when you begin to reach that point, the law dictates you must leave.
Some say that is counter-intuitive to every other career in the world where experience on the job is embraced. Could you imagine telling a brain surgeon to find another job after six years in the operating room?
Yes, yes, yes, writing laws is not rocket science and any schlub can do it, but doing it right and getting it right is not as easy as it looks. Recall, what lawmakers do impacts everyone in the state; some would say it’s just common sense to adopt a mechanism that permits them to use what they have learned, to the benefit of all.
Oh yeah. Common sense is right up there with logical and reasonable, which many voters don’t care about. Nice try Mr. Richardville.