In Sunday’s Gainesville Sun, I make the case in an op-ed that Rep. Keith Perry’s (R-Gainesville) bill to weaken Florida term limits from eight to 12 years is an effort to benefit legislators at the expense of citizens.
“The results during Florida’s term limits era have been good. Legislatures are like marriages, in that they are all dysfunctional in their own special way. But some are definitely better than others — and Florida’s is pretty good. In a 2013 ranking of states by their fiscal condition — an outcome highly influenced by government policy — the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranked Florida as sixth in the nation. Incidentally, five of the top 10 states in this ranking have eight-year term limits on their legislatures. So, it must be asked again, why is Rep. Perry launching this attack on eight-year term limits?”
The answer isn’t flattering to Rep. Perry. Perry is a successful businessman who got the opportunity to run because Speaker Larry Cretul reached his 8-year limit in the House. Now, it appears Rep. Perry wants to cut the ladder off beneath him.
Perry rationalizes this in a straight piece in today’s Gainesville Sun. He claims eight years isn’t sufficient to master the complexities of being a Florida legislator. Eight-year limits are, however, the most common in the United States from the president, to governors, to state legislatures, to county commissioners and mayors. He does not explain what makes being a Florida legislator so particularly daunting.
Hint: It isn’t.
Fortunately, I was provided a chance to respond. “Blumel said that when politicians say eight years is too short, people should keep in mind that the Florida Senate is made up of many former members of the state House of Representatives who possess considerable legislative experience, while the lower chamber has more political newcomers who provide better representation of the citizenry.”
Instead of focusing on the centerpiece of the legislation, the weakening of term limits, Perry instead focuses on the fact the bill also lengthens the terms themselves from two to four in the House and four to six in the Senate. But these are just window dressing. Legislators have tried to loosen their limits numerous times and continue to test new angles to slip this idea by voters.
Perhaps the best quote in the article isn’t by Rep. Perry or me. It is by Alachua County Democratic Party Chairman Robert Prather.
“We’re disappointed that Rep. Perry seems more interested in protecting jobs in Tallahassee… than … Gainesville, Alachua County and Dixie,” Prather said.