Original published in the San Francisco Chronicle

Proposition 28 represents the latest effort by politicians and their special interest supporters to try to fool California voters into gutting California’s voter-approved term limits law.

Prop. 28 is designed to trick voters into thinking it strengthens terms limits when it does the opposite. The measure weakens term limits for state legislators and lengthens the amount of time that they can stay in one office. If this measure passes, it means that most state legislators will serve a full decade in office without having to deal with a competitive election, because incumbency is such a powerful force in elections. Limiting service to six years in the Assembly and eight years in the state Senate ensures that these elected officials do not forget the voters put them in office.

The effort to put Prop. 28 on the ballot was funded with more than $2 million from special-interest groups, including unions who oppose pension reforms that could save taxpayers billions of dollars. Prop. 28’s top backer is Ed Roski, a billionaire developer who sought and received a special exemption in 2009 from state environmental regulations from the Legislature so that he could make millions by building a sports stadium in Los Angeles County.

The Legislature gladly gave Roski the sweetheart deal he wanted – and he rewarded the politicians by making sure that those who were elected to the Legislature would be able to stay in one office longer than the current term-limits law allows.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Dec. 30, 2009, “Two months after state lawmakers exempted a football stadium proposed for the City of Industry from environmental laws, the sports venue’s developer has contributed $300,000 to a ballot measure that would allow future legislators to stay in one office longer.”

Here are the plain, simple facts. You be the judge:

Prop. 28 allows politicians to be in the Assembly for 12 years – not the six-year maximum permitted under current law. That means Assembly members will have their time in one office doubled, not reduced.

It also allows politicians to be in the state Senate for 12 years – not the eight-year maximum permitted under current law. That means members of the Senate will actually have their time in one office increased by 50 percent, not reduced.

A study was conducted on how Prop. 28 would affect current term limits. The conclusion by Robert Prener, an emeritus professor of mathematics at Long Island University , was that, “The proposed change in law will weaken term limits; we may expect lengthening of incumbency for approximately 80 percent of legislators who are newly elected.”

Yes – four out of five politicians in Sacramento would be able to serve longer if Prop. 28 is passed by the voters.

Proponents of Prop. 28 will tell you that one of their goals is to reduce the possible time that a legislator can serve from 14 to 12 years. They will not tell you that fewer than 8 percent of legislators actually serve six years in the Assembly and eight years in the State Senate.

Is it any wonder that the groups urging you to vote for Prop. 28 are the same groups that opposed the original, successful term-limits measure?

Politicians and special interests spent millions to try to stop term limits when it first passed in 1990. Since then, they have tried twice to trick voters into letting the politicians stay in power for more years. Prop. 28 is just their latest effort.