Measure 45

Argument in Favor

Put Voters in Charge of Legislative Term Limits

After submitting more than 400,000 signatures in the past 4 years, term limits is finally before Oregon voters, again.

In 1992, Term Limits became the most popular initiative amendment in state history, winning with 1,000,000 votes and 70% approval.

In 2001, when the law was being phased-in, legislators sued to have their own voter-approved limits overturned on a technicality. This measure is written in accordance with the resulting Oregon Supreme Court ruling.

Voters now have a chance to take the decision about term limits back from the politicians and judges.

From the years when we had legislative term limits in Oregon, we know exactly what to expect in a Legislature under term limits:

  • Greater voter control over the Legislature

  • An end to the seniority system

  • More equal power-sharing among legislators, rewarding merit, not mediocrity

  • Regular open-seat elections with a greater number of more-qualified candidates and more lively, interesting campaigns

  • An end to the good old-boy club, with greater opportunity for the under-represented to hold office, including women and minorities

  • Loss of clout for lobbyists and bureaucrats, whose power depends on long-time, cozy relationships with our lawmakers.

Term limits in our Legislature gave neither advantage nor disadvantage to any party or issue. It was just good for democracy to have a regular supply of new blood and fresh perspective in our Legislature every session. That's why so many Oregonians signed the petition to put term limits back on the ballot.

It was irresponsible for the politicians to overturn our voterapproved term limits. It's now time for Oregonians to again vote YES: "Term Limits – And We Mean It."


(This information furnished by Paul Farago.)

Argument in Favor

A former Democratic state senator says "Vote Yes on Term Limits"

Fellow Oregonians:

As a former State Senator I was able to see first-hand the influence of large organizations and lobbyists on our elected officials in Salem. Fact is, the average voter in this state has no voice whatsoever when it comes to who represents us in our state legislature. The powerful lobbying interests handpick the selections and we merely rubber-stamp their choice.

That is, unless we put in place the single most powerful tool available to return our citizen legislature to those who are supposed to be represented—we the people of this state. Regardless of what they might say, lobbyists hate term limits. As one lobbyist told me during my days in the Senate, we finally get you people trained and then we have to start all over again.

No, we passed term limits in 1992 by an overwhelming majority, but it was the politicians joining the judges in Salem to get the law thrown out. We wanted term limits, and just like politicians often do, they refused to listen to the voice of the people of this state. They sniveled their way into court and got their buddies to throw our vote out the door.

Isn't it time we return the favor to them. Isn't it time we restore what rightfully is ours—our state legislature. Vote with me in restoring the law that truly protects our political voice. Vote yes on restoring term limits.

Thomas Wilde
Former State Senator (Portland-D)

(This information furnished by Thomas Wilde.)

Argument in Favor

Restore term limits to revive Oregon democracy

Oregon lawmakers used to respect democratic traditions. For most of our history, term limits weren't necessary. Most legislators followed the example of our nation's first leader, President George Washington. They served no more than two terms and returned to live under the laws they passed.

As government began to grow in so many directions and stray from its priorities, politicians became increasingly irresponsible. They no longer felt bound by tradition and began to serve term after term after term – turning volunteer civic service into a career.

Lawmakers began to know lobbyists and bureaucrats on a firstname basis. They became more distant from the voters' viewpoint and increasingly disconnected from the value of hard-earned taxes. The enthusiasm of being new to a job, over time, yielded to the temptation to go-along-to-get-along.

In this fashion, career politicians sap our democracy's vitality.

Consider these words of two framers of American democracy - the voice and the pen of the Revolution of 1776:

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

"Elections, especially of representatives and counselors, should be annual … These great men … should be [chosen] once a year – Like bubbles on the sea of matter bourne, they rise, they break, and to the sea return. This will teach them the great political virtues of humility, patience, and moderation, without which every man in power becomes a ravenous beast of prey." - John Adams

"To prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom from continuing too long in office, it is earnestly recommended that we set an obligation on the holder of that office to go out after a certain period." - Thomas Jefferson

(This information furnished by Eric Winters.)

Argument in Favor

Great Americans on Rotation in Office (Term Limits)

"In free governments, the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors and sovereigns. For the former, therefore, to return among the latter [is] not to degrade but to promote them." – Benjamin Franklin

"My reason for fixing them in office for a term of years, rather than for life, was that them might have [an] idea that they were at a certain period to return into the mass of people and become the governed instead of the governors which might still keep alive that regard to the public good that otherwise they might perhaps be induced by their independence to forget." – Thomas Jefferson

"If our American society and United States government are overthrown, it will come from the voracious desire for office, this [desire] to live without toil, work, and labor … from which I am not free myself." – Abraham Lincoln

Oregon Legislators Try To Justify Canceling Term Limits in 2001

"There comes a time when you decide you'll try all methods and all means available to do something. We need to take every approach possible. I don't expect voters to understand. But as you know, we are privy to things they are not. This hallowed place is where we are, and we know it best." – Rep. Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass)

"To use a subterfuge to try to get the courts to throw out the law is disgraceful." – Rep. Bill Witt (R-Cedar Hills)

"Stick it in your ear." – Sen. John Minnis (R-Fairview), to his angry constituents

(This information furnished by Ted Piccolo.)

Argument in Favor


And this is just the beginning! Soon we will start gathering signatures for the 2008 ballot to adopt term limits for the following occupations:

HEART SURGEONS: 8 years. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be just another notch on someone's triple-bypass belt. If it's the first time for me, it should be the first for my surgeon.

JOURNALISTS: 10 years. Just think: with a limit like that, we wouldn't have had to suffer through year after year of doddering has-beens like Cronkite, Jennings and Brokaw.

PILOTS: 6 years. If you run into a lightning storm, or maybe snakes on a plane, who do you want in the cockpit? Some geezer who's gone through it all a dozen times before? You gotta be kidding.

BASKETBALL PLAYERS: 8 years. I mean, c'mon. Did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ever win anything with the Lakers? With term limits, Jabbar would have been out in 1978, and would have stopped embarrassing himself.

GRANDMOTHERS: 9 years. Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go … to hear the same stories … and get the same presents … from the SAME grandmother … year after year. But it doesn't have to be that way. A brand new grandma for every 9-year-old! How cool would that be?

TALK SHOW HOSTS: 6 years. Seriously, did anyone actually watch Johnny Carson after 1968? But there he stayed, keeping young talent out of the game, decade after decade


Friends of Steve Novick, which paid for this statement, is not affiliated with either side of the campaign on this measure, but Steve Novick and his friends believed that Oregonians would appreciate some common sense.

(This information furnished by Steve Novick, Friends of Steve Novick.)

Argument in Favor

Another Good Argument for Legislative Term Limits

"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
- Lord Acton (letter, 4/5/1887)

Politicians cannot be trusted with unlimited power.

The branch of state government that should be closest to the People - our state Legislature - even got rid of their own voter-approved term limits.

Through the initiative process, voters can regain power from politicians and assert voter control over irresponsible state government.

That's what restoring legislative term limits is all about.

Oregon's 1992 term limits law that earned 70% approval had included the instruction:

"If any part of this Act is held to be invalid, it is the expressed intent of the people of Oregon that their elected officials should respect the limits within this Act."

Once career politicians ditched term limits in '02 and were legally permitted to continue in office, many of them did, in violation of the will of the People.

Incumbents rarely retire and are nearly impossible to unseat due to their built-in advantage. By now, one-third of our state lawmakers rely on a legal technicality to serve beyond the limits set by 1 million Oregonian voters.

Vote YES on Measure 45 to promote our career politicians to other positions in the public or private sector, and restore the will of the people: a true citizen-legislature in Salem.

We need term limits, now, more than ever.

Vote YES on Measure 45
Restore Oregon's Term Limits


(This information furnished by Paul Farago, Restore Oregon's Term Limits Committee.)

Argument in Favor

Women Voters in Oregon Support Term Limits

Vote YES on Measure 45

Term limits are good for voters – putting the people in charge of the politicians.

Term limits are good for women – creating open seats that enable qualified women candidates to break into the old-boy network.

Term limits are good for women voters – for a healthier democracy.

Women are smart enough to know that elections are not the same as term limits.
Although opponents claim elections already are term limits, it's not that simple. Under our current system, incumbents enjoy tremendous advantages like media attention and special interest funding that result in a built-in, minimum 20-point lead.

The advantage of incumbency keeps citizen-legislators out. In this rigged system, we don't have fair and competitive elections because challengers aren't willing to risk the money and time when the deck is so stacked against them and a loss is virtually guaranteed.

Term limits = increased participation by women.
In Oregon before term limits, women were under-represented in our Legislature. Even the most-qualified women had difficulty breaking through the glass ceiling in Salem.

When we had term limits, from '92-'02, female representation in the state House of Representatives peaked - at 35 percent after '98 and '00. Then, term limits were scrapped and female representation steadily dipped. Now, women comprise just 28 percent of the House. In the Senate, women have never topped 20 percent.

The old-boy network that opposes Measure 45 is the same bunch that conspired to overturn the vote of 70% of Oregonians in '92. Canceling term limits was a setback for all women who would want to serve in the Legislature.

This is not the time to turn back the clock
on women in Oregon politics.

Join me in voting YES on Measure 45.
Restore term limits in our state Legislature.

(This information furnished by Ruth F. Bendl.)

Argument in Favor

Who opposes Term Limits for state legislators … and why?

Opposition to Measure 45 is brought to you by … a big FLAT conflict of interest.

Oregon lobbyists influence billions of dollars in public spending. Legislative leaders who oppose term limits recruited veteran tobacco lobbyist Mark Nelson to lead the opposition against Measure 45. The group is known as "Fifty Lobbyists Against Termlimits", or FLAT.

The Eugene Register-Guard reported, July 28, 2006:

"[E]arlier this month [Nelson] contacted dozens of lobbyists and groups they represent to organize a campaign to fight the term-limits measure. Nelson said he received indications from … 50 groups that they would help with such a campaign."

The Salem Statesman-Journal, July 20, 2006, reported under the headline "Pay-review board might be revived [that] would suggest compensation level for state legislators":

"The proposal was offered by Mark Nelson, a veteran lobbyist whose clients include the Oregon Judges Association."

According to the latest filing with the Oregon Government Standards and Practices (Ethics) Commission, Nelson represents 32 different entities seeking to influence Oregon state government, including out-of-state corporations that manufacture and sell cigarettes, alcohol and drugs to Oregon consumers.

Among his other corporate clientele are out-of-state market leaders in title loans, gambling and pornography.

He works intimately with government union lobbyists and also represents the interests of criminal defense lawyers, judges and psychiatrists.

The list also includes public entities including Linn County, Deschutes County, and the City of Klamath Falls – whose citizens' taxes should not be used to campaign for or against any ballot measure.

For the price of a campaign to prevent the restoration of term limits, FLAT Oregon lobbyists can maintain perpetual influence over state spending estimated at more than $44 billion next biennium. It's no wonder Measure 45 is opposed by FLAT.


(This information furnished by Paul Farago, Restore Oregon's Term Limits Committee.)


Elections Division, Oregon Secretary of State • 136 State Capitol • Salem, OR 97310-0722