Arizona should consider referring true term limits for themselves to voters

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” – Matthew 7:3 (KJV)

SCR1014 and HCR2022 are advocating for a Constitutional Convention to consider the issue of congressional term limits. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support term limits for every elected office at every level of government, but before our legislators turn their collective eye upon Congress perhaps they should consider referring true term limits for themselves to the AZ voters.

Under the AZ Constitution Article 4, Part 2, Section 21. “…No legislator, after serving the maximum number of terms, which shall include any part of a term served, may serve in the same office until he has been out of office for no less than one full term.”

Meaning, that in real terms, our legislators can, and do move back and forth between the House and Senate ad infinitum without ever being required to leave the collective body of the Legislature. Often the “deal” is cut between the term-limited senators and representatives to flip seats before their final session begins. If similar term limits (and it’s a big IF – not the similar but the term limits) were to be adopted for Congress would it allow for the same type of endless “chamber hopping” which occurs at our state legislature? While obviously, at least theoretically, much harder to achieve on the national level, somehow it always seems that the powerbrokers manage to cut their deals – don’t they?

I once had a discussion with a political acquaintance who opposed legally imposed term limits. He pragmatically argued, rightfully I suppose, that is the intended purpose of elections. He then philosophically opined that if the Founding Fathers had believed in limiting terms they would have written such into the Constitution. However, I countered that I believed, and still do, that if our Founding Fathers had ever envisioned a day when elected office would become a career unto itself or a second, post retirement career; with more elected officials than not running for re-election time and again “serving” (whom?) for decades, and that Political Science would become a major to that end, they would have done exactly that. His response? Touché.

The Arizona Constitution defines our government as three departments – executive, legislative and judicial; not executive, senate, house of representatives and judicial. When Arizona voters considered Proposition 107 (1992); imposing term limits for state officials, did they really intend, or even realize, that this would allow for legislators to serve in the same “department” of government endlessly? How much difference does it really make if the same person services in the same chamber or jumps back and forth between chambers for years on end? Honestly? To me it doesn’t matter; neither is my definition of term limits.

“Physician, heal thyself.” Luke 4:23 (KJV)

About Diane Douglas, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction 2015-2018 15 Articles
Diane Douglas is an American politician and educator expert, who served as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2015-2019. She was elected on November 4, 2014. Douglas succeeded then-incumbent John Huppenthal, whom she defeated for the party's nomination in the Republican primary on August 26, 2014.