Ever since the people of California, back in 1990, passed Proposition 140 and imposed term limits on California’s Constitutional officers and the State Legislature, there have been efforts promoted by political insiders to do away with those limits, or at least to weaken them. Many politicians and the people engaged directly with them find term limits to be an inconvenient insertion of the people’s will into what they prefer to be a Patrician process.

There has been an increased level of "chatter" amongst California’s elites as they have expressed their pleasure (especially newspaper editorial boards) at a new research paper released by the Center for Government Studies (CGS) that is critical of term limits for, among other reasons, not achieving the desired goal of proponents of creating a "citizen legislature" where ex-pols go back home to live under the laws they helped create, and also for causing a "dearth" of experience within the legislature.

The CGS study asserts that because many termed-out legislators tend to find other positions within government, that in doing so they do not actually return back to private life. With all due respect to CGS, I can name dozens of former legislators that I know of who actually have reached their term limits and are back home.

As to the criticism of the experience level of legislators, somehow this is always measured in terms of "experience at legislating" – which is not the metric in question. The goal is to having a regular stream of people going into the legislature bringing real world experience.

In seeking to weaken term limits, advocates still continue to avoid confronting key reasons why voters imposed them in the first place. Californians passed term limits because they believe that most politicians in this state are self-serving, and have pursued an ultra-liberal policy agenda for California that does not enjoy the support of most California voters. And don’t discount the negative impact of the audacity of the legislature to continue to propagate a system where they know how to spend the hard-earned dollars of California taxpayers better than those who actually earn them.

Finally, one of the fundamental reasons why voters continue to support term limits, and oppose efforts to weaken them, is that they are in no hurry to "reward" a political class that they believe is doing a poor job. In a recent LA Times/USC survey, respondents gave a paltry 25% approval rating to the legislature. Instead of focusing on how to give politicians more time to serve in the legislature, perhaps more attention should be placed on actually finding ways to improve the work product of the legislature.