OREGON TERM LIMITS '06
Reinstate 1992's original legislative limits
destroyed by career politicians in '02
[home] [facts] [background] [emails] [cartoons] [2004 story]
email Ted for a petition
Approved to circulate for the Nov. 7, 2006 ballot
Frequently Asked Questions
Amendment text, ballot language, official details, etc.
In The News: updated May 12
Whatever happened to term limits for Oregon legislators? Four years ago, with little fanfare, the Oregon Supreme Court struck down the most popular initiative in state history. Career politicians were allowed to continue to hold office, in violation of the will of the People, and many of them did. Even today, malingering lawmakers continue to use the court's legal technicality to serve beyond the limits set by 1 million Oregonian voters. If enacted into law, our measure would prevent these term-limits violators from repeating their offenses against the People again.
In 1992 70% of Oregon's voters approved a constitutional amendment to phase-in term limits for elected officials. Immediately, the seniority system was dissolved and the Legislature began opening up to greater diversity and accountability. In 2001, the opinion of 69.3% of Oregonians was: "Leave our term limits law alone." But the Legislature and then-Gov. Kitzhaber came up with a novel and underhanded scheme that enabled public servants to get around the People's mandate. In 2002, ten years after the People's resounding vote, the Oregon Supreme Court struck down Legislative term limits on a technicality, ruling that voters must have been confused. We couldn't have known what we were voting for since the measure applied to legislators as well as other officials, such as the Secretary of State. Instantly, legislative careerism and the seniority system were reestablished.
[Note: For historical purposes, this outrageous power grab is chronicled in our emails and re-enacted in our cartoon series. For the short story see the FAQs.]
Now led by the longest-serving incumbents, Oregon labored under the nation's highest unemployment rate as our oh-so-experienced Legislature refused to spend within our means. First they put forward an income tax increase, Measure 28. Immediately after the people soundly rejected it, the Legislature responded with Measure 30, raising income taxes again - this time by $1 billion and with no public hearings. A referendum resoundingly told the politicians, again, "no".
By clearly disregarding voters' messages to rein in the excesses and stick to basic priorities, career politicians demonstrate that holding onto power is what really matters to them. Do you ever wonder why our legislators continue to sidestep their botched creation and reforms of the multi-billion dollar Public Employee Retirement System? PERS, on auto-pilot, cannibalizes public services across the state. Consider this: Oregon's lawmakers detest term limits. They earnestly state, "we are already part-time, citizen legislators". Then why do incumbents become members of PERS in the first place? Limiting terms is a necessary deterrent to the Legislature's inbred conflict of interest on PERS.
Despite an incessant official opposition drumbeat led by incumbents and their handmaiden lobbyists and editorial writers, the public still supports term limits for state legislators by 2-to-1. Will politicians ever limit themselves? About as soon as the Legislature votes itself out of PERS. Therefore it is up to the People to petition again, in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling, and allow Oregon voters the opportunity to reinstate legislative term limits by the same definition the People had enacted more than a decade ago: 3 terms (6 years) in the House, 2 terms (8 years) in the Senate. Fourteen years in total is enough.