CURRENT TERM LIMITS NOT IN PUBLIC INTEREST

April 19, 2001 11:00 pm

It would be much better if a ballot measure to change Oregons legislative term limits came from the citizens instead of the legislators themselves.

Oregonians might be suspicious of a bill that the Oregon House approved Tuesday to modify term limits, thinking that a change in the law is prompted by legislators self-interests. House and Senate members, after all, enjoy the power and prestige of service. Some of them would dearly love to remain in their posts much longer than currently allowed.

But the bill, HJR19, that the House passed 46-14 this week has much more than the political futures of legislators in mind. Current term limits are flawed because legislators, particularly House members, barely get their feet wet in state government when they are forced out. That doesnt always serve the public interest very well.

Ballot Measure 3, approved by voters by more than a 2-to-1 margin in 1992, limited House members to a maximum of six years (three 2-year terms) and senators to a maximum of eight years (two 4-year terms).

Under these term limits, representatives with limited experience are required to step into leadership positions. The limits also have allowed long-term lobbyists or state bureaucrats to have a greater weight in the process than they should. Their broader knowledge of state law and legislative history can give them the edge over green lawmakers.

HJR19 would repeal the limits on the House and Senate terms but would keep the overall 12-year limit on legislative service. The plan would allow a representative to serve six terms in the House or a senator to serve three terms in the Senate. A lawmaker could also mix his service in both bodies for up to 12 years.

That idea makes sense.

The Legislature should not send to voters a bill proposed in the Senate that repeals term limits entirely. Voters wont want to go so far to throw out the entire baby. They are more likely to support a change to the current plan than a measure that ends term limits completely.

CLEAN UP TIME

Come rain or shine, residents of La Grande and Cove will have a chance to clean up their yards Saturday.

La Grande residents can dispose of their yard debris, twigs, leaves or grass clippings until 4 p.m. at the Material Recovery Facility on Highway 30 south of town. Cove residents can dispose of yard debris and other unwanted materials from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at City Hall.

Both cities are giving residents a chance to make their communities sparkle. Residents should take advantage of this opportunity.