Tuesday, April 14, 2009

People to Decide Statewide Office Term Limits

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 14, 2009) – Oklahomans will have the option to stop politicians from becoming entrenched in office following House passage of statewide term limits legislation today.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 12 would let the people decide whether to limit terms of office for most statewide elected officials. The change, which would amend the state Constitution, requires a vote of the people. Following passage in the House today, and the Senate previously, the legislation now proceeds to the Secretary of State for ballot assignment.

“The people decided overwhelmingly more than 15 years ago to limit the number of years a state legislator can serve because they believe an elected official should be a servant of the people. The voters want their leaders to make a sacrifice to serve the people, and then go and live under the laws they helped enact,” said Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie and House author of the bill with Senator Randy Brogden, R-Owasso. “Prior to legislative term limits, many career politicians were an elite class who made their life in politics. The people of Oklahoma want their leaders to be citizen legislators who stay in touch with the real world.”

Currently, state lawmakers are limited to 12 years in office, and the governor is restricted to serving two consecutive, four year terms. SJR 12 would instead limit the governor to serve no more than eight cumulative years in office.

That same eight total years rule would also apply to the Lt. Gov, State Auditor and Inspector, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Commissioner of Labor, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Insurance Commissioner, all of whom serve 4-year terms.

The resolution also would limit anyone from serving as Corporation Commissioner for more than a total of 12 years.

“Since term limits were approved by the people for the state Legislature, there is increasingly a wide mix of backgrounds and careers found at the state Capitol,” said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa. “This change will ensure fresh faces and new ideas are continuously entering the political process.”

The resolution passed the House today with a bipartisan vote of 69-29.

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