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Prop 28: Should We Change Term Limits In Sacramento?

Evening Edition

Above: Vlad Kogan, a Ph.D. candidate at UC San Diego, talks about Prop 28, which would change California's term limits.

Aired 5/9/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guests: Thad Kousser, political scientist, UC San Diego

Vlad Kogan, PhD candidate, UC San Diego

Transcript

Current term limits:

State Assembly 6 years

State Senate 8 years

14 years total

Prop 28 Term Limits:

12 years in Assembly or Senate

California Proposition 28, called the "Change In Term Limits Initiative," would reduce the number of years a politician can serve in the California legislature from 14 to 12. But, it would increase the time a legislator can serve in either the Assembly or the Senate.

Currently, a legislator may serve six years in the Assembly and eight years in the state Senate. Prop 28 would permit a legislator to serve all 12 years in one house. Once a lawmaker has served 12 years, he or she can't switch to the other house.

Vlad Kogan, a Ph.D. candidate at UC San Diego, said those who support the measure say it acts as a compromise between enforcing term limits and allowing legislators to "become experts and get things done."

He said many people want to make politics a career, but know they only have six or eight years in a state office, so when they're elected, they're already looking for another job.

"By extending those time horizons, by giving them 12 years, you really create more incentive for lawmakers to invest effort and time in becoming good policy makers," Kogan said.

He said those against Prop 28 say it's an effort to chip away at term limits.

Term limits were first passed by state voters in 1990. Kogan said part of the campaign at the time focused on Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, a powerful Democrat who nicknamed himself "Ayatollah of the Assembly." Republicans wanted him out of office, so the term limit issue became entangled with partisan politics.

In 2008, a similar ballot measure to Prop 28 was defeated by voters. But Kogan said that measure would have applied to current legislators, so it was seen as a "backroom deal" to allow current lawmakers to serve longer terms.

If passed, Prop 28 would only apply to future lawmakers. It will be on the June 5 ballot.

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