Term Limits


State Supreme Court Ruling Shields Legislators from electorate

Steamboat Pilot, February 4, 1998

This week’s guest column is by Dennis Polhill, a senior fellow at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank located in Golden.

The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision on last week striking down Amendment 12 highlights the court’s overtly political agenda. Instead of respecting the people’s right to petition the government for change, the justices found in favor of professional politicians.

Amendment 12, approved by voters in the November 1996 election that would have notified voters of a candidate’s position on term limits through a notation on the ballot, was struck down as “coercive.”

Chief Justice Vollack wrote that the amendment “takes away from elected officials the right to exercise their own judgment and vote the best interest of their constituencies as they perceive them.”

Take away their judgment? How so?

Amendment 12 would have given the voters information on a legislator’s legislative actions on Congressional term limits. It would not have prevented legislators from voting their conscience, nor would it have punished them for voting against Congressional term limits – unless you consider stating the truth about a legislator’s legislative actions as “punishment.”

The court’s conjecture that the ballot label would harm all legislators who vote against term limits is both false and stinks of the reasoning that politicians have a “right” to hold office.

Popular legislators who do not support term limits would continue to be elected.

In fact, many term limits detractors would find the ballot labeling a useful means to pick candidates who will vote against the reform.

Voting is not a knee jerk reaction for the citizens of Colorado. Many factors are involved in picking a candidate, term limits being one of them. For the court to assume that all term limit foes will be thrown out of office infers an innate tunnel vision on the part of the electorate that is completely unfounded.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people.

This last is most certain, and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

On last week the court ruled against giving information to the people in favor of bolstering professional politicians. How far we have strayed from the Founding Fathers’ vision.

But all is not lost. In November of 1998, Colorado voters will have the opportunity to vote for the “Congressional Term Limits Declaration.” It will allow candidates to declare and demonstrate their support for term limits by pledging to voluntarily serve no more than three terms in the House of Representatives or two terms in the Senate (the same limits repeatedly approved by voters in Colorado and many other states). Candidates are also empowered to authorize information to appear on the ballot.

Because the declaration is completely voluntary, it differs substantially from Amendment 12. If a candidate did not want to sign the declaration, he or she would not have to, nor would any language describing a candidate’s legislative actions be on the ballot. On the other hand, a candidate may decide to sign the first or both parts of the declaration.

The first part pledges a candidate to serve only the specified amount of time.

The second part asks the Secretary of State to place this information on the ballot.

In the case that a candidate breaks his or her pledge to serve three terms in the House and has signed the second part, the words “Running for xth term after declaring intention to limit service to no more than 3 terms” will appear on the ballot next to his or her name. Since the “Congressional Term Limits Declaration” is 100% voluntary the courts will not be able to insinuate that it coerces legislators to vote in a particular manner.

Candidates who take the declaration will be promising to represent their constituents as citizen legislators, not career politicians. Instead of promoting a long career in Washington, self-limiters will serve the interests of their constituents. Colorado voters want representatives who are connected to the people and the concerns of their state and who will work efficiently to promote those interests. Only a self-limiting member who has six years (or 12 in the Senate) to make a difference will fulfill those promises.

While the Colorado Supreme Court finds that legislators have a right to be shielded from the electorate while holding office, cannot object to a candidate voluntarily declaring and demonstrating his or her support for term limits.

If Colorado voters decide to enact the “Congressional Term Limits Declaration” they will be saying, like Jefferson, that the more the voters know the better.

Colorado Leader, Denver, Colorado, February 7, 1998

Term Limits

By Dennis Polhill

The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision recently on striking down Amendment 12 highlights the court’s overtly political agenda. Instead of respecting the people’s right to petition the government for change, the justices found in favor of professional politicians.

Amendment 12, approved by voters in the November 1996 election that would have notified voters of a candidate’s position on term limits through a notation on the ballot, was struck down as “coercive.” Chief Justice Vollack wrote that the amendment “takes away from elected officials the right to exercise their own judgment and vote the best interest of their constituencies as they perceive them.” Take away their judgment? How so?

Amendment 12 would have given the voters information on a legislator’s legislative actions on Congressional term limits. It would not have prevented legislators from voting their conscience, nor would it have punished them for voting against Congressional term limits—unless you consider stating the truth about a legislator’s legislative actions as “punishment.”

The court’s conjecture that the ballot label would harm all legislators who vote against term limits is both false and stinks of the reasoning that politicians have a “right” to hold office. Popular legislators who do not support term limits would continue to be elected. In fact, many term limits detractors would find the ballot labeling a useful means to pick candidates who will vote against the reform.

Voting is not a knee jerk reaction for the citizens of Colorado. Many factors are involved in picking a candidate, term limits being one of them. For the court to assume that all term limit foes will be thrown out of office infers an innate tunnel vision on the part of the electorate that is completely unfounded.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people. This last is most certain, and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” Only recently the court ruled against giving information to the people in favor of bolstering professional politicians. How far we have strayed from the Founding Fathers’ vision.

But all is not lost. In November of 1998, Colorado voters will have the opportunity to vote for the “Congressional Term Limits Declaration.” It will allow candidates to declare and demonstrate their support for term limits by pledging to voluntarily serve not more than three terms in the House of Representatives or two terms in the Senate (the same limits repeatedly approved by voters in Colorado and many other states). Candidates are also empowered to authorize information to appear on the ballot.

Because the declaration is completely voluntary, it differs substantially from Amendment 12. If a candidate did not want to sign the declaration, he or she would not have to, nor would any language describing a candidate’s legislative actions be on the ballot. On the other hand, a candidate may decide to sign the first or both parts of the declaration.

The first part pledges a candidate to serve only the specified amount of time. The second part asks the Secretary of State to place this information on the ballot. In the case that a candidate breaks his or her pledge to serve three terms in the House and has signed the second part, the words, “Running for xth term after declaring intentions to limit service to no more than 3 terms” will appear on the ballot next to his or her name. Since the “Congressional Term Limits Declaration” is 100% voluntary, the courts will not be able to insinuate that it coerces legislators to vote in a particular manner.

Candidates who take the declaration will be promising to represent their constituents as citizen legislators not career politicians. Instead of promoting a long career in Washington, self-limiters will serve the interests of their constituents. Colorado voters want representatives who arc connected to the people and the concerns of their state and who will work efficiently to promote those interests. Only a self-limiting member, who has six years (or twelve in the Senate) to make a difference, will fulfill those promises.

While the Colorado Supreme Court finds that legislators have a “right” to be shielded from the electorate while holding office, they can not object to a candidate voluntarily declaring and demonstrating his or her support for term limits. If Colorado voters decide to enact the “Congressional Term Limits Declaration” they will be saying. like Jefferson, that the more the voters know, the better.

Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute, a free-market think-tank located in Golden, Colorado. The Institute’s web site is http://i2i.org.

Sky-Hi News, October 22, 1996

 Term Limits: Yes on Amendment #12

by Dennis Polhill,

Treasurer Colorado Term Limits Coalition, October 1996

In May of 1995, they overturned laws in 23 states and invalidated the votes of over 25,000,000 Americans. They subverted the will of the people and used the Constitution, designed to protect individual rights, to protect an isolated ruling class of career politicians living in Washington, D.C. This is not the government that the Founders envisioned. It is a government of political insiders, career politicians, special interest lobbyists, and government bureaucrats. Term limits are the only way for the people to take their government back and reinstitute a citizen congress.

The need for congressional term limits did not end with the Republican revolution of 1994. The national debt continues to grow at over 500 million every day. Every new baby inherits a $20,000 debt that is increasing by over $1,000 per year. Taxpayers will shell out over $100 million this year for congressional pensions at the same time that the people’s social security system is going bankrupt. Former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who pleaded guilty to scamming taxpayers of over $600,000, will collect close to $100,000 in congressional pensions while in prison. Already Congress has found a way to circumvent the newest Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting them from giving themselves pay raises. The free mail privilege alone averages $400,000 per member of Congress which far exceeds the total raised by an average challenger. Newt Gingrich is no more in favor of term limits than was Tom Foley. The privilege, perks, pensions, and power make it impossible for Congress to reform itself. The only way that a corrupt political system can be reformed is by the people.

It is absurd that Congress should be without term limits. The President, 40 governors, 21 state legislatures, and at least 20,000 local elected officials are term limited.

The move for congressional term limits began in Colorado in 1990 by Terry Considine. Colorado approved congressional term limits again in 1994. By 1995, 23 states had passed congressional term limits. When Congress voted on term limits, they chose to ignore the fact that 17 of the 23 states supported limits of 3/2 (meaning three terms in the House and two terms in the Senate). Clearly, the Republican Congress was no more enthusiastic about real term limits than was the Democratic Congress.

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the votes of 25,000,000 Americans, they did not say that term limits was a bad idea. They said that the qualifications for members of Congress enumerated in the Constitution were “exclusive.” Thus, states do not have the right to impose additional qualifications and members of Congress may be term limited only by amending the U.S. Constitution. The career politicians in Washington, D.C. and the pundits were quick to declare that the term limits movement was dead.

The dozens of term limits organizations across America regrouped, formed a new battle plan, and retrenched. The only way to amend the U.S. Constitution is for 38 states to ratify a proposed amendment. Because proposed amendments are typically drafted by Congress, the dilemma is clear. Extraordinary methods must be devised to overcome Congress’ conflict of interest.

Amendment #12 is an “instruct and inform” initiative. Similar measures are on the ballot in 13 other states. The next amendment to the U.S. Constitution is spelled out in the initiative. State and federal elected officials are “instructed” to do everything in their power to pass the Congressional Term Limits Amendment. The instructions are listed clearly so there can be no confusion (i.e. must vote in favor, must second a motion, etc.)

If an elected official fails to follow the people’s “instruction”, then the people will be “informed” by words next to the candidate’s name on the ballot next time they run for election. It will say, “Disregarded voter instruction on term limits.” Ballot information is not as unusual as it sounds. Ballot information is used to indicate party affiliation, so that voters can make informed choices. Candidates who petition onto the ballot are usually so designated to provide information to voters. Between 1905 and 1908, 15 states used ballot information to encourage state legislators to choose the U.S. Senator who was desired by the people (prior to the 17th Amendment, U.S. Senators were chosen by respective state legislatures. After the 17th Amendment was ratified, use of ballot information became unnecessary and faded into obscurity).

When the Founders drafted the U.S. Constitution, they wisely recognized that there would be issues that would conflict with the self-interest of Congress. If Congress refused to act, they provided an alternative method by which the states could draft an amendment: by applying for an amendment-proposing convention. Whether the Congressional Term Limits Amendment comes from Congress or a convention, the work of drafting is small because it is already written and may not be changed.

Congress will never act on term limits without pressure from the people. Amendment #12 is the only way that the people will get real term limits on Congress. Vote YES on 12.

 

 

 

 

USA TODAY, October 11, 1996

Term Limits Still Needed

The American people are outraged their government has been hijacked by career politicians and special interests (“Surprise for term limiters,” Our View, Debate, Oct. 3).

Just because the 9% turn over in Congress in 1994 is called a revolution does not mean the problem is solved. It is only a symptom of the deeply contemptuous mood simmering in the people.

Clearly, the work of reform is not finished. It is outrageous for USA TODAY to claim 9% is sufficient turnover to define a citizen-Congress, and instead of permanent reform, like term limits, the current public mood should be sustained.

Dennis Polhill, co-chairman Colorado Term Limits Coalition

Lakewood, Colorado

 

Denver Post, October 5, 1996

Term Limits Debate

Amendment 12 forces them to listen

DENNIS  POLHILL

In May 1995, they overturned laws in 23 states and invalidated the votes of over 25 million Americans. They subverted the will of the people and used the Constitution, designed to protect individual rights, to protect an isolated ruling class of career politicians living in Washington, D.C. This is not the government that the Founders envisioned. It is a government of political insiders, career politicians, special-interest lobbyists and government bureaucrats. Term limits are the only way for the people to take their government back and reinstitute a citizen congress.

The need for congressional term limits did not end with the Republican revolution of 1994. The national debt continues to grow at over $500 million every day. Every new baby inherits a $20,000 debt that is increasing by over $1,000 a year. Taxpayers will shell out over $100 million this year for congressional pensions at the same time that the people’s Social Security system is going bankrupt. Former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who pleaded guilty to scamming taxpayers of over $600,000, will collect close to $100,000 in congressional pensions while in prison. Already, Congress has found a way to circumvent the newest amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting them from giving themselves pay raises. The free mail privilege alone averages $400,000 per member of Congress, which far exceeds the total raised by an average challenger. Newt Gingrich is no more in favor of term limits than was Tom Foley. The privilege, perks, pensions and power make it impossible for Congress to reform itself. The only way that a corrupt political system can be reformed is by the people.

It is absurd that Congress should be without term limits. The president, 40 governors, 21 state legislatures, and at least 20,000 local elected officials already have term limits.

The move for congressional term limits began in Colorado in 1990 with Terry Considine. Colorado approved congressional term limits again in 1994. By 1995, 23 states had passed congressional term limits. When Congress voted on term limits, they chose to ignore the fact that 17 of the 23 states supported limits of three terms in the House and two in the Senate (or 3/2 limits). Clearly, the Republican Congress was no more enthusiastic about real term limits than was the Democratic Congress.

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the votes of 25 million Americans, they did not say term limits were a bad idea. They said the qualifications for members of Congress enumerated in the Constitution were “exclusive.” Thus, states do not have the right to impose additional qualifications and the terms of Congress members may be limited only by amending the U.S. Constitution. The career politicians in Washington, D.C., and the pundits were quick to declare that the term-limits movement was dead.

The dozens of term-limits organizations across America regrouped, formed a new battle plan and retrenched. The only way to amend the U.S. Constitution is for 38 states to ratify a proposed amendment. Because proposed amendments are typically drafted by Congress, the dilemma is clear. Extraordinary methods must be devised to overcome Congress’ conflict of interest.

Amendment 12 is an “instruct and inform” initiative. Similar measures are on the ballot in 13 other states. The next amendment to the U.S. Constitution is spelled out in the initiative. State and federal elected officials are “instructed” to do everything in their power to pass the congressional term-limits amendment. The instructions are listed clearly so there can be no confusion (i.e., must vote in favor, must second a motion, etc.)

If an elected official fails to follow the people’s “instruction,” then the people will be “informed” by words next to candidates’ names on the ballot next time they run for election. It will say, “Disregarded voter instruction on term limits.” Ballot information is not as unusual as it sounds. Ballot information is used to indicate party affiliation so that voters can make informed choices. Candidates who petition onto the ballot are usually so designated to provide information to voters. Between 1905 and 1908, 15 states used ballot information to encourage state legislators to choose the U.S. senator who was desired by the people. (Prior to the 17th Amendment, U.S. senators were chosen by respective state legislatures. After the 17th Amendment was ratified, use of ballot information became unnecessary and faded into obscurity.)

When the Founders drafted the U.S. Constitution, they wisely recognized that there would be issues in conflict with the self-interest of Congress. If Congress refused to act, they provided an alternative method by which the states could draft an amendment: by applying for an amendment-proposing convention. Whether the congressional term-limits amendment comes from Congress or a convention, the work of drafting is small because it is already written and may not be changed.

Congress will never act on term limits without pressure from the people. Amendment 12 is the only way that the people will get real term limits on Congress. Vote YES on 12.

Dennis Polhill is treasurer of the Colorado Term Limits Coalition.

 

No on 12 it’s bait and switch

JACK FRIED

Initiative 12, deceptively titled Congressional Term Limits, is an example of the old “bait and switch” tactic. This ballot initiative is both dangerous and misleading. The proponents have hidden in the middle of 11 lines of small print an instruction for our state legislators to “apply for an amendment-proposing convention.” This convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution is commonly known as a constitutional convention. Your “yes” vote would authorize the first and only federal constitutional convention since 1787. In that setting, the U.S. Constitution would be subject to changes far beyond the scope of this initiative.

A constitutional convention (con-con) can be called only by your state legislators, and passage of this initiative would coerce them to do so. If they see the danger of a con-con and refuse to call one, at the next election the phrase “against term limits” would be added to their name on the ballot. This tactic unfairly brands the incumbent with an anti-term-limit “scarlet letter” when in fact they would be against calling a federal constitutional convention.

Out-of-state sources account for 98 percent of the funding for this initiative. A majority of the $115,000 spent in Colorado came from U.S. Term Limits,a Washington, D.C., lobbying group. In fact, professional petition circulators were paid $1 per signature to get Initiative 12 on the ballot. Citizens against Constitution Tampering conducted a sample poll in metro Denver of individuals who signed this petition. Only 6 percent knew the initiative called for a constitutional convention, and 84 percent said they would not have signed the petition if they had known!

The proponents have made every attempt to hide this convention call from the voters, including an intense lobbying effort at the state Capitol. The preliminary draft of the voter’s guide did not mention the constitutional convention at all. Only through the efforts of a few dedicated individuals was this travesty finally exposed at the hearings on ballot initiatives.

The local Colorado Term Limit Coalition has persuaded a handful of other organizations to join their cause by assuring them that they, too, are not in favor of a constitutional convention but are only using it to force Congress into passing a term-limits amendment. This is false logic. They know fully well that this old tactic does not work. In the most recent attempt, 32 states applied for a con-con to force a balanced-budget amendment. As in previous attempts, Congress took no action. Three states have since rescinded their call as they recognized the dangerous position this country was placed in. Some coalition members are now having second thoughts as well.

The real goal is an unlimited constitutional convention. The method is to deceive the voters of Colorado. Now that the word is out, the proponents of Initiative 12 have changed their tactics. They assure you that a convention could be limited to only a term-limits amendment. When challenged with expert opinion that the Constitution would be vulnerable to a complete rewrite, they ridicule the concern, claiming that three-fourths of the states (38) would still be required to ratify any amendments, preventing any mischief.

All ridicule aside, distinguished constitutional law scholars from leading universities such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Notre Dame and others agree that a federal convention cannot be limited to one subject. Former U.S. Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote: “Whatever gain might be hoped for from a new constitutional convention could not be worth the risks involved. A new convention could plunge our nation into constitutional confusion and confrontation at every turn….” Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg stated: “It is my firm belief that no single issue or combination of issues is so important as to warrant jeopardizing our entire constitutional system of governance at this point in history.”

There is no guarantee that the 38-state ratification process would remain. The only precedent we have is the original 1787 convention in which delegates changed the voting rules for ratification from unanimous to three-fourths of the state legislatures. What would prevent a current convention from further reducing this requirement to two-thirds or less?

Even their “bait,” the term-limits argument, is full of traps. Under their term-limits amendment, about half of the Senate and a third of Congress will be perpetual lame ducks. With the incentive of re-election gone, and with the acquired taste of the power and privilege of government office, appointed positions in the executive branch will be very attractive. It would be to the self-interest of a lame-duck Congress member to support the executive branch in order to ensure a future in the government bureaucracy.

Our power at the ballot box is the most effective way to limit congressional terms. The real solution to the problems enumerated by the proponents of this fraudulent initiative is not their brand of term limits, but responsible and educated voters. Vote NO on Initiative 12, the term limits con-con con!

Jack Fried is chairman of Citizens Against Constitution Tampering

Golden Transcript, February 16, 1996

Congressional Term Limits

WE NEED DONATIONS and VOLUNTEERS

Call (303)584-7266

 

 The PROBLEM: Career Politicians

·  Congressional careerism has undermined representative democracy.

·    The conflict of interest is clear: Congress will not impose term limits on itself.

·    The U.S Supreme Court has ruled that amending to the U.S. Constitution is necessary to achieve congressional term limits.

·    The will of the people to implement congressional term limits has been systemically frustrated by political insiders.

 

The SOLUTION: The Congressional Term Limits Amendment (CTLA)

·    Instructs legislators to vote for term limits.

·    Punishes legislators who refuse to abide by the will of the people by printing their refusal on election ballots.

·    Specifies the precise constitutional amendment that must be approved.

·    Requires state legislators to apply to Congress to call a “Term Limits Amendment Proposing Convention.”

·    Requires members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation to vote in favor of the CTLA until it is referred to the states for ratification.

·    Requires that state legislators vote to ratify only the CTLA as exactly written.

 

CONGRESSIONAL

TERM LIMITS

YES

X

NO

 

 

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution concerning congressional term limits, and, in connection therewith, specifying a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that limits U.S. Senators to two terms, former and incumbent U.S. Senators to one additional term, U.S. Representatives to three terms, and former and incumbent U.S. Representatives to two additional terms; Instructing Colorado’s State Senators and Representatives to vote to apply for an Amendment-Proposing Convention; Instructing Colorado’s U.S. Senators and Representatives to pass said term limits amendment; Requiring that all election ballots have “Disregarded Voter Instruction On Term Limits” next to the name of an incumbent U.S. Senator or Representative or Incumbent State Senator or Representative when such a Senator or Representative fails to take specific actions in support of said term limits amendment; Providing that non-incumbent candidates for U.S. and State Senator and Representative be given an opportunity to take a pledge in support of said term limits amendment; Requiring that primary and general election ballots have “Declined To Take Pledge To Support Term Limits” next to the name of a non-incumbent candidate who has not signed such pledge; Authorizing the Secretary of State to determine whether the terms of this amendment have been  complied with and whether such designations should appear on the ballot; And allowing any, legal challenge to this amendment to be filed with the Supreme Court of Colorado as an original action?

Paid for by the Colorado Term Limits Coalition198 Union Blvd, Suite 200Lakewood, CO 80228 • (303) 584-7266

Dennis Polhill. Treasurer

Golden Transcript April 11, 1995

‘Monitoring Your Actions’

Editor’s note: The following was sent to U.S. Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo.

Who do you think you are?

It is appalling to witness the disgraceful display of arrogance and contempt that you hold for the people of Colorado and for the Constitution. You are certainly a deserving candidate to be the term limit poster child for the next election. You can count on my efforts to so influence U.S. Term Limits.

As I have explained to you several times, you are bound by the Colorado Constitution to support term limits of three terms in the U.S. House. Your judiciary committee votes of Feb. 28 are in opposition to the will of the people of Colorado, a violation of the Colorado Constitution and a blatant attempt to pre-empt rights of states on this issue.

Don’t make a mistake about the popularity of the term limits issue in Colorado. The vote of last November was adversely affected by the local term limit provision and the cigarette tax campaign. The estimated effect is 5% and 15% respectively, meaning that the support for shorter congressional term limits is about the same in 1994 as it was in 1990. In your district, it is about 2 to 1 in favor.

No one has done an accounting of the political careers ended at the state level in non-initiative states. It is certainly in the dozens, and conceivably in the hundreds. With new state legislatures, New Hampshire and North Carolina are in a dead heat to be the first non-initiative state to pass term limits.

Your only hope to reconcile with your constituents on this issue is to vote against (and lobby against) the McCullom term limit amendment, and to vote for the Deal-Sanford term limit federalism bill. Colorado Term Limits Coalition is monitoring your actions. Please do the right thing. Follow the dictates of the votes and vote in the best interests of the people and the nation.

P.S. News flash! The “new” New Hampshire Senate voted unanimously March 7 for U.S. House term limits of three terms. New Hampshire will be the first non-initiative state to pass term limits next month when it passes the House.

Dennis Polhill Colorado Term Limits Coalition

Golden Transcript, March 2, 1995

Guest Column

CTLC wants term limits for all states

by Dennis Polhill, treasurer Colorado Term Limits Coalition

Editor’s note: Dennis Polhill joined more than 40 other state and national term limit leaders in proclaiming their support for a Congressional statute that would allow each state to establish term limits on their own members of Congress.

This statute will let us measure exactly how serious Congress is about term limits. It will call the bluff of those Congressmen who say they’re for term limits but aren’t sure how long the limits should be.

Over the past four years, 22 states have placed term limits on their Congressmen. More than 40% of Congress is now under limits, generally established at three terms in the House and two in the Senate. Term limit leaders are confident that they can pass similar laws in at least two or three states a year until all 50 states are covered. Sooner or later Congress will get the message. However, we’re not going to sit around and wait for Congress to understand; we will keep passing limits through the states until the entire nation enjoys the benefits of citizen legislators.

The State Leaders Statement also called upon Congress to “immediately cease all efforts to overturn existing term limit laws.” This refers to a bill introduced by Congressman Bill McCollum, R-Fla., that would overturn existing term limit laws in 22 states and replace them with limits twice as long as those approved by voters. The statement declares that “overturning state laws through Congressional action is no different than Tom Foley’s effort to overturn the same laws through legal action.”

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., has expressed support for passage of a term limits federalism statute. While we’re pleased that the speaker is supportive of this effort, we’re reserving final judgment until we can see the precise language of the statute. We need a statute that will truly protect the existing state laws from Congressional repeal.

Colorado Term Limits Coalition believes that states already have the right to place term limits on their members of Congress. However, a legal challenge by term limit opponents is being considered by the Supreme Court. Passage of a statute is likely to protect the rights of states to impose term limits in the unlikely event that the court overturns the existing laws.

 

Term Limits Don’t Be Fooled

For United We Stand America, 1995

By Dennis Polhill

Term Limits threatens the status quo of the elected elite in both parties in Congress. This issue, more than any other, crystallizes the cultural difference between elected officials of both parties and the people. Term limits is the issue that proves that elected Republicans are as hypocritical as elected Democrats.

Witness also the impassioned conflicts between freshmen and veterans. The freshmen are more in touch with the people. The veterans more convinced of their indispensability. This is more evidence that tenure in Washington tends to co-opt and enculturate. Term limits is about changing the culture of careerism. Nothing more, nothing less. The Republicans are wrong in thinking that the people will be less zealous for term limits now that the “right” deeds are being done by the “right” folks.

As proud and determined term limit advocates, we recognize the system as fundamentally flawed, not the people. Thus, the cure is not so much to change individuals, as to insist on basic structural changes to the system. UWSA’s contribution in framing the scope of the “Contract with America” and facilitating the Republican take over of both Houses is an enormous and commendable achievement. We do not object to Republicans riding the term limit issue to win elections, but we will not tolerate betrayal! Republicans be warned.

On March 29, all four proposed constitutional amendments on term limits died in the U.S. House. First, they voted among the four; then, the one with the most votes was voted Yes or No. This allowed virtually everyone in the House to vote “Yes” on a term limit bill (good rhetoric for the next election) with full confidence that none would pass. The least hypocritical, but most out of touch with their constituents are Rep. Hefley and Rep. Skaggs. They voted “No” across the board. The least restrictive of the four was the most popular (WHAT A SHOCK!). It allowed 12 years, a two year sabbatical, 12 more years, etc. and would have overturned term limits laws already passed in 22 states. Translation: 36 years or service was allowed in 40 years or 24 years was allowed in 26. Because the people are winning the battle, we do not have to accept just any version of term limits that Congress chooses to allow. It is good that this failed. It did not satisfy the fundamental test, “will this change the culture of careerism?” Rep. Allard showed the most courage by voting “No” on watered-down term limits. He is a hero and should be recognized and commended as such. Rep. Schaefer and Rep. Mclnnis are term limit supporters voting “Yes” on all but one version. Rep. Schroeder wins the award for the highest degree of hypocrisy. A long time and outspoken opponent of term limits, she voted “Yes” on retroactive term limits. What are the chances that her vote is an honest vote? Based on this vote alone, targets to be term limited in the next election are Schroeder, Hefley, and Skaggs.

There were 288 members of Congress who voted “Yes” on one or more versions of term limits. The Sanford-Deal term limit bill (H.R. 1104) is a statute, and therefore, requires only 218 votes to pass. It is currently being blocked from a vote by the House leadership. All it does is endorse the rights of the states to set congressional term limits. If it can be voted on, it will become the ultimate hypocrisy test of the 104th Congress. If Republicans truly support states rights OR term limits, they can pass it without a single Democrat vote. Any member of Congress who voted “Yes” on any of the four amendments should have no difficulty voting for, or cosponsoring, this bill. Encourage your member of Congress to become a sponsor of HR. 1104, and to pressure the House leadership for a vote. Let them know that the people are not about to be fooled by their deceptive tactics. We, the people, insist on term limits. We insist on a return to representative government.

Denver Post May 10, 1991

Here’s a Way to Shape Up our Congress

Congress has again failed to act according to its own standards: 1991 was the year of Gramm-Rudman where the federal budget deficit would cease to grow.

Even with the October tax increase, Congress has failed to follow its own guidelines to the tune of a record 1991 V budget deficit of over $320 billion.

Committee decisions are sometimes used to abdicate responsibility for decisions. This is a technique used throughout our government, both on the administrative (staff) side and obviously on the legislative side.

A 1990 survey of taxpayer perception proves the effectiveness of the strategy. Although most taxpayers believed Congress was doing a poor job, they believed their congressman was doing a good job.

When a president is blatantly in violation of the law, Congress has the power and duty to impeach the president. In the case of Gramm-Rudman and its successors, Congress has violated its own law and thus is obligated to impeach itself.

Seeing as it is unlikely that Congress will impeach itself, an incentive pay plan is suggested to encourage fiscal responsibility. Every year that spending does not exceed revenues, each member of Congress will receive a bonus of $1 million. The cost of the incentive will be only $535 million per year. This is only one-sixth of 1 percent of what Congress did to the taxpayer in 1991.

Another benefit that would come out of the bonus system is that there would be more interest to serve among folks of leadership ability.

DENNIS POLHILL

Lakewood

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