“State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, filed a bill Wednesday to allow Texas voters to decide whether statewide elected officials, including the governor, should be limited to two consecutive terms,” the Tyler Paper reported on Thursday. “If passed, Senate Joint Resolution 13 would place a constitutional amendment regarding term limits for all statewide elected officials before voters Nov. 5, 2013.”
Sadly, it would exclude state representatives and state senators — something Eltife acknowledges he wants to include, but feels exempting them, for now, will help the bill’s chances.
“All I am asking is for the voters of this state to get a chance to decide once and for all whether statewide elected officials should have term limits,” he said. “I did that to give it a realistic shot at passing.”
The arguments for term limits are compelling. They do away with “career politicians,” they keep fresh faces (and fresh ideas) flowing, and more importantly, they remove the pressure of re-election from the minds (and schedules) of office-holders.
The amount of money raised for and spent on elections these days is disturbing — some would say out of control — and of course that means, to some degree, influence peddling. Term limits would help address that.
But we’re not convinced that’s a bad thing. In Texas, many offices have turned into positions of either entrenchment or place-holding. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for example, remains the best example of an entrenched politician, having served for 12 years now.
The place-holder phenomenon is well documented; officials win an office and use it as a stepping-stone to the next. To use Perry as an example again, when he served as Agriculture Commissioner, he spent much of his time concerning himself with national issues, such as supporting Hillarycare. He then ran for lieutenant governor, and served less than a full term, until he was appointed governor.
Neither entrenchment nor place-holding serve Texas voters. We need new ideas, and those are hard to come by when officials are worried about either re-election or their next job.
Still, the best argument for Eltife’s bill is that it puts the matter before the voters of Texas. Let’s stop talking about term limits — let’s do something about them. Like vote them up or down.