Forum: Prop. 28 Seeks to Reform Term Limits

The California Capitol building.

Opponents of Proposition 28 say that it will prevent fresh faces and ideas from coming into the capitol. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Proposition 28, an initative on the June 5 ballot, seeks to alter California’s term limits for legislators. Currently, legislators can serve a total of six years in the state Assembly and eight years in the state Senate — or two three-year terms and two four-year terms, respectively. Prop. 28 seeks to change that limit to 12 years in either the Senate or Assembly or a combination of both.

On Wednesday, KQED’s Forum discussed the pros and cons of Prop. 28. Guests included Dan Schnur, Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California and Steven Baric, Chairman of the California Republican Party. Here are highlights from each guest:

Dan Schnur:

I would argue, as most proponents of the original term limits initative believe, that getting fresh perspective in Sacramento, getting a broader range of not just demographic but professional diversity, has been [a] benefit [but] it hasn’t magically fixed any problems. I would say for those that oppose term limits, for those who are deeply suspicious, you are entitled to vote against this initiative — certainly. But one of the greatest concerns I hear from opponents of term limits is the disruption in the lack of continuity and we think this 12 year fix addresses that problem.

Steve Baric:

Only 8 percent of legislatures since term limits have been inacted, have actually served their full tenure in both houses. I don’t think it’s really correct to say it’s going to reduce it from 14 years to 12. The studies have shown — that were done by US Term Limits — that it will actually increase the amount of time legislatures spend in Sacramento. And I think that’s the concern a lot of Californians have. Because, quite frankly, a lot of Californians don’t think the folks in Sacramento are doing a good job and shouldn’t be rewarded with additional time up in Sacramento.

Want more? Listen to the full show yourself — it lasts about 24 minutes: