Term limits and bills: Good outweighs bad

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

Lately, a host of controversial bills that had been stalled in the General Assembly for years were passed.

In recent weeks, bills approving Ohioans to carry concealed weapons and banning gay marriages have been approved. A bill to name the smallmouth bass the state's fish is moving closer to passage despite earlier arguments for other fish.

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During a recent Associated Press interview, an Ohio lawmaker forced out by term limits said the rapid passage of bills can be attributed to a diminished presence of veteran lawmakers.

"In the past when we've had some of these types of bills where it was a social-political kind of thing, that causes a lot of emotion," said Leigh Herrington, the former Senate Democratic Minority Leader forced out by term limits in 2003. "The veterans were able to provide a perspective."

We agree that lawmakers with tenure can offer their younger peers guidance when controversial bills are on the table. No matter what you are dealing with, you cannot go wrong with experience. However, if that influence is holding up bills in the House and Senate, how much good is it doing the people of Ohio?

While we do not necessarily agree with term limits, we do not feel slowing the passage of bills is a legitimate argument against it. To us, the No. 1 argument against term limits is this: if you elect a good, productive lawmaker, you know they will only be around for eight years - or 16 if they are first elected to the House and then the Senate.

The fact is, lawmakers are often criticized for dragging their feet on passing legislation. For someone against term limits to say one of the problems with it is bills are passed to quickly, to us, is counterproductive.

But for now, we are stuck with term limits. We, as voters, have to accept this fact and work hard to elect the men and women who will best represent us. While experience is a good thing, a new, fresh look goes a long way too.