Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vote yes on Prop 93

Sierra Club California has endorsed Proposition 93, the Term Limits and Legislative Reform Act, on the Tue., Feb. 5, ballot.

Prop 93 would allow a legislator to serve up to 12 years in the Senate, the Assembly, or a combination of both. California’s current term limit allows 14 years, but these must be divided into a maximum of six years in the Assembly and eight in the Senate.


Legislators need time in Sacramento to learn about environmental issues and the legislature's sometimes arcane rules. Today, in the Assembly especially, even committee chairs and top leadership have limited experience. Often they are appointed after only two years in Sacramento; sometimes even brand-new legislators are appointed. Prop 93 will give them more time to gain experience and expertise—essential for dealing with complicated environmental issues with long-term consequences.


With less turnover of members, there will be fewer of the novice legislators most vulnerable to industry lobbyists’ false arguments and lies. Consider the history of global-warming legislation. In 2002, first-term Assemblymember Fran Pavley authored California’s first important global-warming law, AB 1493, the clean-cars bill. In 2006, in her final term, Pavley authored her landmark AB 32, but only a small minority of the assemblymembers serving then had been in the legislature in 2002. This year, when Assemblymember Ruskin’s clean-car-discount bill, AB 493, lost on the floor, not a single member had been in the Assembly in 2002, and many members bought some of the same bogus arguments the auto industry had made in 2002.


Committees chaired by experienced lawmakers will be better able to oversee state agencies and bureaucrats. With more time to serve in one house, legislators can gain knowledge of the inner workings of agencies. We need lawmakers with the institutional memory to follow the implementation of environmental laws by state agencies. Consider again AB 32. Like many bills, this requires state agencies to undertake a complex process of decisions on how to carry it out. Largely due to today's term limits, Fran Pavley is no longer in the legislature to help watch over the implementation of her landmark bill.


Under the current limits, once members are elected to the Assembly and come to Sacramento, they immediately start to eye their next elective office. With the possibility of 12-year careers in the Assembly, they will feel less need to raise money--and therefore less reliance on special interests. They will be able to devote more time to governing and policy-making. Prop 93 could also slow the revolving door that sends many former members into lobbying jobs–usually for industry, since public-interest jobs mean a big pay cut.
The Sierra Club urges you to vote yes on Prop 93--to bring more experienced legislators to Sacramento.


Anonymous said...

A "yes" vote on 93 would allow horrible Senator McClintock (R) to serve another four years as a senator, even though that would put him in the CA legislature for more than 20 years!
The idea is good (12 years max term, able to be served in the same house) but the loophole is unacceptable. It would allow 42 legislators currently serving to exceed the existing term limits that would term them out of their house seatts THIS YEAR (unless 93 passes).

Anonymous said...

The complaint is the representatives do not have enough time to get things done. Hmmmm, 14 years and they can't get anything done?! Well, if prop 93 passes, how could they get more done in 12 years? The original term limits were established to insure new representatives were brought in to the Government.