Texas debate on term limits is just plain wacko

Posted Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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If you ever doubt that the ways of the Texas Legislature are completely bizarre, that Lone Star State lawmakers live in a world where down is up and up is down or sometimes even sideways, just watch the online video of Tuesday's Senate debate on term limits for statewide elected officials. (www.senate.state.tx.us/avarchive)

Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, introduced SJR 13, a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to limit the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, land commissioner, agricultural commissioner and railroad commissioners to no more than two consecutive terms.

The Senate approved the amendment on a 27-4 vote. If at least two-thirds of House members agree, the amendment will go to a statewide election Nov. 5.

Bizarre point No. 1: Eltife said approving the resolution would mean "allowing the voters of Texas to have their say on term limits."

Not completely true. Voters would have their say on term limits for statewide officials, but not for members of the House or Senate. Eltife said flatly that he wanted to include term limits for legislators, "but I don't think we could pass that" in the Legislature.

So, a November election would let voters have their say only after legislators protect themselves from term limits.

Bizarre point No. 2: Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, proposed amending the resolution to set term limits for elected judges and legislators. But he said his purpose in doing so was simply to kill the resolution because, like Eltife, he believes members of the House and Senate will not approve limiting their own terms.

Estes said the state constitution should treat all elected state officials the same. He withdrew his amendments when, as predicted, it was clear that senators would not approve them.

Bizarre point No. 3: If there's any validity left to the "let the voters decide" argument, why not let them continue to decide who gets elected and who doesn't?

Why should anyone else decide that certain names can't even go on the ballot because they've been there an allotted number of times?

Voters already set term limits. No constitutional amendment is necessary or justified.

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