Proposition 28 to decide lawmaker term limits

May 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
California's term-limits law restricts lawmakers to serving a total of 14 years in the state Legislature, but when you go to the polls next month, Proposition 28 asks whether to lower that limit, and at the same time, allow them to stay in their jobs longer.

According to current term limits, you can spend six years total in the Assembly and a maximum of eight years in the state Senate, for a total of 14 years. Proposition 28 would cut the 14 years down to 12, but with an important difference -- there would be no limit on where those years were spent.

For example, instead of a maximum six years in the Assembly, a member could stay in the Assembly for all 12 years.

"They're just trying to come up with another way to wrap bacon on a pig," says Jon Fleiscman, a conservative blogger and volunteer spokesperson for the No on 28 campaign. "I do think it's a scam and I think that, but for people watching news stories like this one, they would never realize that all the legislators get to serve more time in office."

The No on 28 campaign calls the measure a scam because it reduces the total number of years a lawmaker can serve in Sacramento but allows members to stay in one house or the other for longer than the current rules allow.

"So what's really going on here is that if the public understood..." Fleiscman said.

"I don't think it's a scam we invite voters to read it," Philip Ung said. Ung, of Common Cause, is a spokesperson for Yes on 28.

The attorney general's title and summary of Proposition 28 is as follows:

"The proposition reduces the total amount of time a person may serve in the state Legislature from 14 to 12 years...Allows a person to serve a total of 12 years in either the Assembly, the Senate or a combination of both."

But that means if 28 passes, the limit on time in the Assembly will go up.

"Well you would say that, but we think over the lifetime it decreases it by two years," Ung said.

Supporters of 28 know term limits are popular, but their side is getting help from some big names in the GOP. Among them is former Assemblyman and former state Sen. Jim Brulte.

"And having served as the leader of my party in both houses of the Legislature, I'll tell you term limits hasn't worked the way proponents expected," Brulte said.

Brulte tells ABC7 under the current term limit rules, legislators, especially in the Assembly, aren't in office long enough to do a good job.

"California is a very complex state and the idea that you can master it and then come up here on Day 1 and start making great decisions is just wrong," Brulte said.

Brulte is not the only well-known Republican coming out in support of Proposition 28. Tom McClintock of Granite Bay supported term limits. He now says it's harmed the Legislature. Pete Schabarum, the man who wrote the term limits law, says if he did it again he'd make the terms longer rather than have lawmakers bounce around from one house to the other.

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