Why term limits? Under current Utah law, any elected state official can serve indefinitely. This creates several problems.
- It creates a class of “career politicians” who receive a lot of time and financial attention from lobbyists. Those career politicians often develop a sense of entitlement (which is why politicians often refer to “Rep. So-and-so’s seat” instead of “our House District’s seat.”)
- Any current office holder benefits from several “incumbency advantages,” which include name recognition, media attention from traditional news outlets, fundraising and campaign bases, control over the instruments of government, successful campaign experience, a presumption of success, and voters’ inertia and risk-aversion.
- In Utah specifically, political parties often block internal challengers to their office holders, and in most districts throughout the state there is no real competition in the general election.
- Career politicians stagnate. Rotating office holders more frequently has the effect of bringing a lot of new, fresh ideas into our political leadership. We have more than enough wonderful, capable citizens of this state who would make fantastic contributions to our government. We want to ensure that more of them actually have that opportunity, and that we are able to keep up with the new ideas of our fast-paced society.
These are just some of the reasons why we believe we need term limits.
Who will be subject to these term limits? This term limit initiative would only apply to Utah executive and state legislative elected officials, such as the governor or our state senators. It does not apply to federal officeholders, such as our members of Congress from Utah.
What are the specifics of these term limits? We are proposing a consecutive twelve-year term limit for state legislators and a consecutive eight-year term limit for executive elected officials.
- State senators can serve up to three consecutive four-year terms and house members up to six consecutive two-year terms.
- The governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state treasurer, and state auditor can serve up to two consecutive four-year terms, or eight years in office.
- There is no lifetime limit. That means, for example, that a former legislator can come back and run for office again after taking a “time-out” period of at least one term.
When are you planning for this to be on the ballot? Our goal is to have this initiative on the 2020 ballot.
Where else have state-level terms limits been passed? Fifteen states have already set term limits on their legislators, including Arizona, California, Montana, and Nevada. Thirty-six other states have term limits of some type on the governor, including many of our neighbors such as Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, and Nevada. Of the 15 states that currently have legislative term limits, it is important to note that 14 of them were passed by citizen ballot initiatives in those states, all of which were conducted between 1990 and 2000. Bringing about term limits via citizen ballot initiative is by far the most common and effective way to put this important check on our state government.
How can I help bring term limits to Utah? There are several ways you can help!
- Attend a public hearing. As part of the ballot initiative process, we will be holding a number of public hearings in specific places across the state. We will also ensure that these hearings are broadcast live as well, so that those who cannot attend in person still have the opportunity to participate. We urge you to come to the public hearings, either virtually or in person, and help make sure that your friends, family, neighbors, and others have a chance to participate and weigh in as well.
- Spread the word. You can help us spread the word that Unite for Term Limits is being formed and that voters will have this opportunity on the ballot in 2020. Another way to help is to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll be sharing information about the initiative and about the value and importance of term limits through our website and through social media. We hope you’ll read it as an educated voter yourself and that you’ll share it with friends.
- Donate. Another thing we need is funding to help make sure this gets on the ballot. At present, we are completing our registration of Unite for Term Limits in order to ensure that we can receive political donations. In the meantime, we invite you to make a pledge. Every little bit will make a difference as to whether we can get this on the ballot.
- Volunteer. Last but far from least, we will need volunteers. In order to get this cleared to appear on the ballot in 2020, we will need tens of thousands of signatures of registered Utah voters who support having the chance to vote on term limits. If you are willing to gather signatures, whether you can collect ten or ten thousand, we need your help. We will need signatures from citizens of Utah all throughout the state. Again, if you would be willing to help volunteer to gather signatures or help organize and oversee other signature gatherers, please fill out the volunteer form. Once we are cleared by the state government to begin the signature gathering process, we will be contacting you with instructions as to how we can proceed.