The year was 1990; 25 years ago. California voters enacted Proposition 140, which imposed term limits on state legislators and discontinued pensions for incoming legislators. Opponents of the proposition outspent proponents 31-1. The measure passed with 52 percent of the vote.
Voters were fed up with the mercurial, imperial Speaker of the Assembly Willie Brown. There was a movement to have what was referred to as citizen-legislators. The goal was for citizens to temporarily leave their private-sector vocations to represent the people in the state Legislature. Career politicians became a taboo in the voters’ minds.
I have never believed in term limits. Neither did Ronald Reagan, patron saint of the Republican Party.
Although well intentioned, Proposition 140 led to a lack of experience and institutional memory in the halls of the state capitol. Legislators became more susceptible to the pressures of special interests and their lobbyists.
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On the bright side, Proposition 140 has brought us some citizen-legislators. Sen. Andy Vidak is certainly one. He knew the value of a buck as a small farmer in Hanford before he arrived in Sacramento. Sen. Vidak is a solid representative of the people.
Mark C. Salvaggio, Bakersfield