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Term limit measure clarified

Joe Miller

Park River

In a recent column from our former Lt. Governor, Lloyd Omdahl, a measure on term limits for the Legislature and Governor was discussed.  A myriad of points was made, but one unfortunate error was also made.  Lt. Governor Omdahl was mistaken in his understanding that current legislators will continue to be able to serve an unlimited number of terms, as they are “grandfathered in.”  

It should be clarified that current legislators and the current governor will be “grandfathered in” to the law as their past terms will not be counted.  Instead, should the voters approve, all legislators and governors elected this fall and beyond will only be allowed to serve 8 years in his or her respective office.  

For example, I served in the Senate from 2008 to 2016.  I would be able to run, and if elected, serve for 8 more years in the Senate.  I could then run for the House of Representatives and serve 8 years.  I would then be unable to run for the legislature and someone new would have to do the job, by which they would be able to serve 8 years in the Senate and 8 years in the house.  

Lt. Governor Omdahl, did a good job pointing out some of the fallacies that detractors of term limits often bring up, but one point he did not discuss is one I believe most important.  Term limits promote broader participation in the process and provide a balancing of power across the state so as to give all districts and people an equal voice at the table.  The status quo rewards those that have the ability to continually run for reelection and serve for 20+ years, something that is nearly impossible for most North Dakotans.  

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