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Dear Florida Constitution Revision Commission”
For months I have been reading and hearing about proposals on how we can introduce meaningful term limits in such a way that, if they are accepted, they can improve significantly the elective part of our political system.
There have been several term limits options offered over the past several years. Each of them suggests various limitations of terms of office. But they all include multiple terms. Multiple terms mean re-election campaigns and that mean running for office while still holding office –spending their time campaigning to KEEP their job rather than spending their time DOING their job.
I would like to have my elected officials think, “What must I do in my term in office to serve my constituents and my country in a way that will be worthwhile?” Rather than for them to continue thinking, “What must I do to get re-elected?”
Therefore, I propose a 28th Amendment that mandates our Florida state elected officials be limited to ONE term in office – no re-elections. Every five years, we elect a whole new government. I suggest we start this endeavor with our state government and see how local jurisdictions react.
In the included attachment, I describe how this could work. I welcome your response.
2950 S. E. Ocean Blvd. 2-3
Stuart, FL 34996
THE AMENDMENT: I’m proposing a new amendment to the Constitution that limits every Florida State government elected officials – the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Governor - who, under the provisions of theis amendment, will serve only ONE five-year term in the office to which they were elected. The amendment should state that no one holding an elected Florida state office can be re-elected nor can run for re-election to the office to which they were elected or any other elected office while they hold that office to which they were elected.
The amendment forbids them from resigning from the office to which they were elected office for any reason other than significant, demonstrable ill health or pressing personal reasons.
If they do resign for any acceptable reason, they are not eligible to run for any office until the term to which they were elected originally expires.
The amendment will mandate that anyone violating any of the requirements of the amendment, either while in office or when running for that office, would be fined and would be ineligible for any leadership position he or she held if they were elected.
RUNNING FOR OFFICE: Under terms of the Amendment, a newly created Florida Elections Commission will be granted significantly enhanced power, latitude, and oversight in all phases of the general elections including all finances and funding.
There will be no campaign fund-raising because candidates in the general elections will be prohibited from accepting campaign contributions except for a set amount of money (Allotment) given to them from the Florida Elections Commission that uses tax dollars collected for and set aside for each general election. The Commission will control how much money it gives to each candidate. The candidates for Governor will get so much; each senatorial candidate will get an equal set amount, as does each “House” candidate. All candidates will receive their allotments at the same time on a date set by the Commission. The Commission will oversee each candidate’s spending closely and what candidates don’t spend on their campaigns, they must return to the Commission. The Florida Elections Commission has all the power it needs to enforce that rule and punish any offenders. The Commission will hold the “purse strings.”
There will be no fund-raising during the general election campaign. For the first time, people attended political rallies, debates, and other gatherings who weren’t the “party faithful,” or those who were looking for political favors. Now regular citizens came to meet the candidates and hear what they have to say without being pestered for money.
Those already in office could dedicate all their energy to legislate for their ENTIRE term in office. The now present overwhelming advantage of incumbency (more than 90% of incumbents get re-elected) would disappear because everybody would be an incumbent – for his or her ONE term in office.
SPECIAL INTERESTS: There will still be the issue of the special interests influencing elections, but because their contributions to campaigns will be limited to the primaries, they will have to use their imagination as to which of the many candidates running in those primaries they would back. It will soon become obvious that, because there may be many candidates running in the primaries, and the special interests will have to cover their bets by contributing to all but the least likely winners. The money the special interests must budget for campaign contributions will become so spread out, their influence with the primary candidates should become diluted.
With no second terms for incumbents, special interest influence would be diminished significantly because they would find it impossible to “influence” elected officials with re-election campaign contributions since no one can run for re-election.
The lobbyists will still be with us and they will still represent their special interests. They can try to influence elected officials but now they can only come with ideas. And, since elected officials won’t be able to use lobbyists’ money to help get re-elected, elected officials can more freely evaluate ideas that sometimes may result in improved legislation.
COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS: Since everyone is in their first and only term, there won’t be any seniority. Committee chairs and assignments would be based upon the candidates’ qualifications.
THE BIG PAYOFF:
The amendment will make it worthwhile and attractive for talented candidates to run for one term by paying them well enough to make them willing to leave their current careers to serve their country as “citizen legislators” in Washington for five years. By paying them as much as $300,000 a year plus expenses for their willingness to serve a single term, folks other than the very rich whose interests, experiences, perspectives, and priorities are often different from ours, could afford to serve this single term.
Giving those elected officials this considerable financial security during their one term in office will encourage more, well-qualified Florida citizens to run for office by making it possible for them to afford to leave their jobs, careers, practices, or businesses for five years.
If they are careful with that salary, they should be able to budget enough money at the end of their five years in office to allow them to help re-establish themselves financially in their communities when they return to “civilian” life.
A NOVICE GOVERNMENT: Our state government runs pretty much the same even when the Legislature is not in session. So government will still function during that several month transition period while our newly elected officials are getting oriented. So far, experience in elected office hasn’t produced a marked improvement in government since, under the present system, most elected officials’ priorities is on being re-elected.
There are a lot of state government employees who are there “forever” and can provide legislators any “continuity” they may think they need. Of course, the newly elected official brings everyone with them whomever they’ll need for their staff.
Those who will run for office under this new system don’t want a “political career.” They will be citizen legislators who will serve one term and go home, just as the founding fathers envisioned. *
Along with the staffers the newly elected legislators will bring from home, many of them can hire holdovers who worked for their predecessors. Staffers will enjoy the freedom of being able to concentrate on legislation and concerns from constituents – the reasons they came to Tallahassee in the first place – instead of just trying to raise money to get their bosses re-elected.
When those elected officials leave office after five years, they will have seen how our government does work and how it should work; it can make them better citizens when they return from Tallahassee to their hometowns.
They are aware also, that they are going to have to answer to the folks in their district for what they did in their five years in office.
Consider this and let me know what you think. Thanks.