- Ballot Measures
- Public Opinion
In the March 2012 USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Science/Los Angeles Times Poll, voters voiced their opinion in favor of setting shorter – but more flexible – term limits on California’s legislators. Poll participants stated that they would be in favor of an initiative that would limit the current term of 14 years combined between the Senate and Assembly (eight and six years, respectively) to 12 combined years in either house or both. This initiative will be placed on the ballot in the June 2012 elections as Proposition 28. If passed, this initiative will amend California Proposition 140, the first proposition that established a term limit of 14 years that passed on November 6th, 1990.
This poll result showing California voters are in favor of further limiting legislators’ time in office comes at an interesting time in California politics. As polls continue to demonstrate that citizens are increasingly unhappy with the Legislature (see: http://field.com/fieldpollonline/subscribers/Rls2405.pdf) it seems as if Proposition 28 is coming at the perfect time for those in favor of the initiative. Will the voters’ negative attitudes towards the Legislature provide the momentum necessary for this to pass?
In addition, this Dornsife poll results begs the question of how might the Legislature respond to the threat of reduced term limits and the dissatisfaction of its constituents? Californians are taking an increasingly active role in government, through social media and widespread media outlets among other forms of communication; each citizen is much more connected to the government than in years past. I am curious to see how legislators might reach out to their constituents as a result of this recent poll result. Will those in the Senate be in favor of limiting overall term duration in order to spend three terms in the Senate, rather than dividing their time between both houses?