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Question of the day

Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014

* Eric Zorn wants term limits for legislative leaders in order to get rid of Speaker Madigan

Gov. Pat Quinn and Rauner support leadership term limits, though their first choice is legislative term limits, according to their spokesmen. The other three Republican gubernatorial candidates — Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard — support leadership term limits.

The public is also enthusiastic: A September 2012 poll of Illinois voters by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found that 78 percent support the idea.

And yet. Illinois lawmakers have introduced proposed constitutional amendments to limit the terms of legislative leaders 10 times since 2007 and never gotten so much as a committee vote — a pattern of failure seen in seven other states in the last 15 years.

No state has such limits in its constitution, analyst Brenda Erickson said.

There’s an effective limit on the terms of Senate presidents in 14 states where the lieutenant governor is term limited and also serves as the president of the state Senate. Four states limit leadership terms either by chamber rules or caucus rules, and one state, Maine, has statutory but not constitutional limits.

It’s hard not to think that the reason such a popular and obvious proposal has such trouble moving through legislatures is that the men and women whose job security is threatened by leadership limits are the same men and women who have the power to sidetrack legislation.

* The Question: Would you support a ten-year term limit for all four state legislative leaders? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

online polls

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    Gee, I who is blocking those votes ?

    “And yet. Illinois lawmakers have introduced proposed constitutional amendments to limit the terms of legislative leaders 10 times since 2007 and never gotten so much as a committee vote — a pattern of failure seen in seven other states in the last 15 years.”

  2. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    I voted yes. 10 years in more than enough time for one person to be in power. Look at what Illinois has become, a cesspull of patronage and corruption. Mike Madigan has become almost a king. Nothing gets done unless he approves. He has too much power, and has for too long. While term legislative term limits probably would not end the patterns that have developed in Illinois, they would prevent an individual from gaining virtually unbridled power. Additionally, the power gained by the leaders is not of the people, because a majority of the citizens have little or no say pertaining to legislative leaders. While I do support term limits for legislative leaders, I do not support term limits for individuals directly elected by the voters.

  3. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    That should read cesspool

  4. - Sunshine - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    Term limits should be imposed by the voter, but unfortunately that is not the case. I would prefer not to have term limits, but due to the lack of change, perhaps voter apathy, I would suggest it is time to ‘impose’ them.

    Asking the legislator to vote themselves out of a job is akin to asking the fox to give up the hen house. It ain’t happening.

    Imposed change could serve to empower more folks to vote. However I think it will simply encourage a stronger political organization at the base level to fatten the pool for the same group with the same agenda.

  5. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    I voted no. If a leader becomes abusive or inept, they have caucus elections every so often that can address the problem. Why should voters be asked to remove Christine Radogno, for example, when Senate GOPs won’t?

    Zorn ought to know better too. Simple solutions are usually neither.

  6. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    Copy/Paste what AFSCME Steward said.

  7. - A guy... - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    I would support 10 year term limits for every legislator, not just leaders. That, in effect, would limit leaders to 4 or 6 years. That’s plenty.

  8. - DuPage - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    I voted no. That door swings both ways. It could force good people out of office and give Rauner type candidates even more opportunities to buy elections.

  9. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:20 am:

    Voted “No”…

    Out of the 117 other members of the IL House, how many could get Pensions, CC, SSM, MM done?

    Not one, not 2, but all through?

    See, what Zorn fails to see, sometimes having the “arm” on a Mushroom is far more impactful than the Mushroom thinking, “This person will be out next session, so I will just do whatever”

    Discipline is part and parcel of leadership. Without it, you have Caucuses with agendas that have no way of getting passed.

    As to the “referendum” to leadership spots …

    You elect members, and those members choose their leaders. Even in a Parliamnetary form of government, the legislative body chooses its leaders, not the voters.

    Let’s not confuse our form of government with another.

  10. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:23 am:

    No. There are elections. Term-limits are by definition undemocratic.

  11. - walker - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    Any such limit on Leadership isn’t a Constitutional issue, but rather one for legislative or caucus rules. Moving toward a Constitutional amendment is plain wrong. That’s why no states do it, and why it shouldn’t even be considered in committee.

    I’m all for new ideas offered up for House and Senate rules,(only Nekritz has tried that recently from the majority), and have argued for 12-year leadership terms. That, along with separating the formal party leadership roles from the legislative ones, could mitigate at least some perception problems.

    As with all such political “reforms”: where there’s a will there’s a way, and money tends to find it.

    There is no magic bullet, but this might be worth a try.

  12. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    Term limits is the simplistic solution to gerrymandered districts and rules that concentrate power in the leaders’ hands. I’d rather make the districts more competitive and change the rules. Fat chance of that though.

  13. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    I would also like to be thinner and dance better and odds are that will happen way before this…

    But I voted yes..

  14. - vibes - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    Voted no. Feel-good band-aid on a broader challenge — voting and campaign finance accountability. Plus, lunacy to legislate caucus rules — who thinks a “Speaker Emeritus” would have less power? And if you forced a leader to retire after ten years, you’d deny voters who sent a legislator capable of leadership a seasoned veteran representing them.

    FTR, I’m against all term limits, including the Twenty-Second Amendment.

  15. - Steve - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    I think this is a great idea. There should be a limit on years in the leadership AND years in the legislature. There also should be a outright ban on property tax lawyers from holding any public office- that will at least discourage some from profiteering from the political system. But, this is a great idea from Eric Zorn.

  16. - Tom B. - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    No. I’ll engage in the same argument I made the last time around there was a term limits debate.

    Let’s have term limits on columnists at newspapers. After all, they have enormous influence over the public discourse. Term limits for editors at the papers, reporters on certain beats, or on editorial writers.

    Legislators should be able to choose their own leaders and if they don’t like them, their leadership style or deem them ineffective, they alone should have the power to remove them.

  17. - Bill F. - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    No. Are we really going to waste the time and money of a state of 13 million people to impose a law on one single individual?

  18. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    === There also should be a outright ban on property tax lawyers from holding any public office- that will at least discourage some from profiteering from the political system. ===

    In that vein, we should ban all corporate executives from holding any public office - that too would prevent some from profiteering from the political system.

  19. - Jaded - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    Voted no. I would rather see the re-districting process removed from the GA. That would likely solve the term limit issue.

  20. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    Voted no. This is democracy. Voters elect legislators, legislators elect leaders. Diagnose the problem - it’s the gerrymandering. Now, maps elect legislators. Fix that problem, the rest will take care of itself. Madigan is simply the ruler of the caucuses of interests huddled under the label “Democrat”. Those interests won’t change by eliminating Madigan - you’ll just get an amatuer instead.

  21. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    vote them out if you don’t like them.

  22. - South of Sherman - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    Also voted “no.” If you don’t like how Madigan is running the legislature, vote Republican.

  23. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:51 am:

    No. I don’t want anyone deciding who I can/can’t vote for.

  24. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    I’d like to know why almost no one in the Illinois media has brought up that - prior to him trying to win the GOP nomination - there has not been one peep about term limits from GOP candidate Bruce Rauner. I also would like to know why the media are glossing the constitutional limitations on Rauner’s ref on term limits. Seems dishonest to the voters. No?

  25. - RWP - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    I voted no again, for the same reason I vote no on all term limits. It is why we have elections. The part of the system that is broken is the part that keeps electing people who do not attend to the people’s business.

  26. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    “Term-limits are by definition undemocratic”

    So are the rigged Cook County Election…..

  27. - Cassiopeia - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    Regardless of whether there is a law requiring term limits there is a time for political leaders to go. Like with athletes they should leave at the top, and not at the end of their game.

    Madigan’s style and approach served him well during an earlier era but now he is becoming a bitter caricature of himself. His personality will not allow him to let go now and it is sad watching him these days

  28. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    –”Term-limits are by definition undemocratic”

    So are the rigged Cook County Election…..–

    For example, Anon Victim?

  29. - Democratrunningforofficein2016 - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    Are you crazy this is absorb I voted no , this should never be put into a bill in the general assembly

  30. - Angry Chicagoan - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    I am absolutely opposed to legislative term limits, as I believe them to be an infringement on voter choice, and a concession of power to lobbyists and special interests who end up much more experienced in the workings of state government than the legislators themselves in situations where term limits apply.

    Leadership term limits are a different matter. In this case, you’re talking about an organizational change — a change that prevents one faction from becoming entrenched in power over others. And eight years is quite long enough for any legislative leader to remain in place.

  31. - Logic not emotion - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    I’d prefer to see redistricting changed from being an arbitrary political process to a computerized one with defined frameworks (i.e. start at some corner of state, expand by certain ratio while trying to ensure all voters within certain areas (blocks, townships, roads, etc.) remain in the same district.)

    I’d also rather see a ban on party leadership holding elected office. I’ve heard stories on how that influence can be used. I.e. We’ll $upport you for this election; but you have to vote how I tell you on a few critical votes or we’ll $upport someone who will vote our way against you in your next primary.

  32. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    Yeah, maybe redistricting could help but, again, who is in charge of those changes? The ones who profit from the status quo.

  33. - ChelseaBlue - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    I voted no - as much as I would like to see certain individuals go, I see support for term limits as nothing more than sour grapes. The continued failure of an opposition voice to garner enough support in an election format against long standing elected official is important and should not be forgiven by an arbitrary rule punishing the successful.

    Better the devil you know…. or as 47th Ward said, “Simple solutions are usually neither.”


    On a separate observation - the poll has “yes” votes with a straight-up lead without even having to count the “Yes-but…” votes. Yet in comments, “No” seems to have a commanding lead. I’m not sure just what to make of that.

  34. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    I think there should be term limits for ALL elected offices. If it is good enough for the Presidency then it should be good enough for all offices.

  35. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    Mad Dog and The Big Hurt to Cooperstown, first ballot!

  36. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    ===Mad Dog and The Big Hurt to Cooperstown, first ballot!===

    Great day for both sides fo town.

  37. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    What keeps a leader from stepping down as leader and appointing a puppet?

  38. - UptownProgressive - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 1:36 pm:

    I voted “No” Democracy is hard work and people are always tempted to go an easier route.

  39. - Anon - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    Caucus limits are pretty easy to change. When Tom Cross came in as minority leader, he put a 10-year limit in his caucus rules. A few year later, he had that provision quietly removed.

  40. - Under Influenced - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 2:09 pm:

    Term limits. Kind of like a luxury tax (forcing parity)? Sounds like communism to me….

    Wait, so Rauner supports taxes and communism?! Somebody illuminate the Zorn-signal!

  41. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    I’m against term limits of any kind. As I’ve said before, why even have elections anymore? We should all be put in a lottery and serve our term in office when our name is called. Apparently people have gotten lazy about elections and want to change the rules of democracy since they can’t seem to get their way at the ballot box. If you don’t like who is in office or how your elected official is voting for leadership then there’s a very simple solution - vote for somebody else.

  42. - Steve - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    Constitutions are all about limiting political power. Having term limits is perfectly consistent with limiting the tyranny of the majority which is what Madigan and Burke’s districts represent . If consumers don’t like a company ,they can vote with their dollars eventually disemploying a CEO. But, in the Madigan situation it’s not fair that he gets to be re-elected just because a majority of his district has been paid off in different ways: while the rest of the state suffers. Term limits are a great thing.

  43. - Tony - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    I’m totally opposed to term limits. If voters want someone out, then they should vote them out. The people deserve the government they get, particularly if they don’t vote.

  44. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 2:18 pm:

    ==it’s not fair==

    LOL. As I said, if you can’t get your way at the ballot box we need to change the rules so that you can.

    ==If consumers don’t like a company ,they can vote with their dollars eventually disemploying a CEO==

    You can do that with politicians too. If you don’t like them don’t vote for them.

  45. - Anon - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    I’m of the position that all legislators should be moving up or moving on. You stifle opportunity for others if 1 individual is permitted to remain in leadership for extended periods of time.

  46. - walker - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 4:34 pm:

    To be clear, I agree with Word that term limits for publicly-elected officials are fundamentally undemocratic.

    Rules for holding a leadership role within an organization are an entirely different matter.

  47. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 5:14 pm:

    Yes. It sounds like sound Democracy to me! Also, if a 10 Year Term is plenty for an Illinois Supreme Court Justice before facing re-approval, surely it’s plenty for those 4 folks carryin’ around a heap of power all to themselves as well…!

    Yet, while I’ve brought up the Justices of the Il. Supreme Court, perhaps as an alternative, like the Il. Supremes, for those persons to remain in such posts beyond 10 years, the question SHOULD be handed over ALso to the Voters for say, oh, up to a 4 year extension, or even 10 more, to a max. of 20 years all-told…!?

  48. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 5:28 pm:

    “I’m of the position that all legislators should be moving up or moving on”

    So, all politics, all the time, no actual managers of government. Sounds like a wonderful plan.

  49. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 8:53 pm:

    Interesting to see the vote is roughly 75% in favor of term limits, while only about 30% of the comments support term limits.

    There’s a disconnect in there somewhere. Or, perhaps, a “silent majority”.

  50. - FormerParatrooper - Wednesday, Jan 8, 14 @ 9:58 pm:

    No. Term limits are to be imposed at the ballot box. The district mapping is an issue that needs to be resolved in my opinion. Maybe there can be a discussion later about the mapping, but those who have the power are reluctant to give it up once attained.

  51. - Henry Clay - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 7:43 am:

    Eight years in any job is long enough to correct what is wrong but not so long that you can feel secure and impervious to your actions in office. The head and ego of a political type continues to expand in size like a giant pumpkin until year eight after which it explodes. Year nine would prove messy to try to clean up later on for the state’s voters.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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