Paid political letter: Vote “No” on Term Limits for Legislators Term limits just limit voters’ options

Ideas and opinions in this letter are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stance of this paper. The author of this letter has paid for its placement. Vote “No” on term limits (Measure #1) to keep all your future choices available for house and senate candidates. Term limits are a limitation on your freedom and the rights of citizens to choose and elect their preferred legislators.

Term limits will transfer power to unelected career bureaucrats and special interest lobbyists - centered in Bismarck - as experienced, legislators around the state are forced out. The knowledgeable legislators will be replaced by newcomers. We are not better served by more inexperienced freshmen legislators. Rather, we should have term limits on bureaucrats who work tirelessly to build their empire.

North Dakota has a part-time citizen’s legislature that meets 80 days or less every two years, with a few interim committee meetings. For the other 20 months out of two years, legislators hold down jobs in their community or are retired. Our citizen’s legislature is one of our state’s great strengths for governance and good policy. They live and work under the same laws and budgets they pass.

It takes more than 8 years in the legislature to master the laws, policies and budgets of education, social services, healthcare, energy, criminal justice, taxation, transportation infrastructure, and more. Limit of two four-year terms (8 years), will result in a less experienced and informed policy making branch of government. The institutional knowledge will reside with unelected bureaucrats and special interests who do not answer to voters. That is the exact opposite of what advocates of term limits claim they want.

Republicans and Democrats alike have trouble recruiting strong candidates. This year there are 20 uncontested senate races and 40 uncontested house races, (60 races total) - many running for the first time. 60 challengers are missing on the ballot. That is not healthy. Voters should have choices. Term-limits will make candidate recruitment even harder. Term limits will cause the parties to gather by the river using a hook to find candidates floating by. More turnover is not helpful.

There is plenty of turnover in the legislature as it is. Over time, 80% of our legislators serve less than 10 years. For the 2023 session, 25% or more of the legislators will be freshmen. There will be 35 to 40 new legislators of the 141 total legislators, with 40+ not up for reelection until 2024. The arbitrary two-term limit robs voters of their right to elect seasoned legislators who cannot be buffaloed by bureaucrats and special interests. Elections and retirements provide plenty of turnover. There are good reasons no state has passed legislative term limits in 22 years.

Overly restrictive term limits will decimate legislative leadership. It takes several sessions to learn the ins and outs of government. That cannot be done well if legislators are forced out after 8 years. Term limits will force legislators to elect leaders who only served after 2 or 3 sessions, and then exit after 4 sessions. With experience comes knowledge, expertise, accomplishments, and hopefully wisdom. This overly restrictive measure will result in worse legislative leadership, not better. We avoid amateurs when we need an experienced professional. Same is true here.

Measure #1 is bankrolled by U.S. Term Limits, an out-of-state advocacy group contributing $485,000 to try to trick voters to undermine their own power. Voters should reject the advice of carpetbaggers and their in-state puppets.

Voters should not limit their own power, which is what term limits will do. Each election enforces term limits of four years. Vote “No” on Measure #1.

Bruce Gjovig
Grand Forks, N.D.