TERM LIMITS SHOULD OFFER MORE FLEXIBILITY

January 16, 2002 12:00 am

If Oregon voters want to limit the terms of their legislators, they are going to have to do it at the polls or pass another term limits measure. The Oregon Supreme Court last week knocked down Oregons term limits law, which was approved by voters in 1992.

The court ruled that the measure contained too many constitutional changes. The court suggests that ballot measures must not be so complex. Voters should not be entangled by several proposals when they vote yes or no on a single measure.

Oregonians have been paying the price of the term limits measure for several years, and the result has been an inexperienced Legislature. Representatives under term limits are turned out after three terms or six years, and senators can serve up to two terms (eight years). Representatives have barely gotten their feet wet in the lawmaking process, and may have been tapped for leadership for only one session, when they are shown the door.

Its likely Oregon voters will see another measure on the ballot, but having seen the result of term limits they might not be so willing to approve another similar measure that swings so much of the power in the Legislature into the laps of lobbyists or state bureaucrats. For the past couple of sessions lobbyists often have known more about the system and the history of laws than the legislators.

Giving voters the opportunity to elect state representatives every two years and state senators every four years negates the need for term limits. And it might be that Oregonians have seen the light, and will not approve term limits again.

But if Oregonians are uneasy with the prospects of a man or woman making a lifetime career in the Legislature, they should consider a term limits law that has much greater flexibility than the one just tossed out by the court. A proposal that would allow legislators to serve a maximum of 20 years in either the House or Senate or both would ensure that our senators and representatives are moving out of Salem after a fair career and letting some fresh blood move in to take their place.

CHECK WITH DOCTOR

Presidents and ex-presidents with health problems help raise the bar about that particular problem or illness.

Millions of Americans became aware of the effects of polio when President Franklin D. Roosevelt had to endure the crippling disease. Former President Ronald Reagans battle with Alzheimers has raised the level of understanding on a disease that robs a person of their memory.

Now President Bushs encounter with a pretzel stuck in his esophagus Saturday has stirred a discussion on the cause and prevention of choking. The fact is many people regularly struggle with choking. Bushs incident should be a wakeup call for people experiencing this problem; they should seek out some medical help to deal with it.