California voters overwhelmingly agreed Tuesday to alter the state's term limits law by allowing lawmakers to serve longer in one house, adding another new wrinkle to the Legislature's way of business.
With 14 percent of precincts reporting, voters backed Proposition 28 by 65 percent to 35 percent. The measure changes California's term limits law by allowing lawmakers to serve as many as 12 years in either the Senate or Assembly. However, the initiative reduces lawmakers' overall time to serve in both houses from 14 years to 12 years.
Backers sold the change as a term reduction for state lawmakers, who as a group carry a low approval rating hovering around 22 percent. Like the successful majority-vote budget initiative in 2010, Proposition 28 had institutional support yet offered voters a small enticement - the overall reduction - designed to tap into voter disapproval of lawmakers.
Proponents said the measure would result in more experienced lawmakers and legislative leaders, which they contended was a necessary counterbalance to lobbyists who have become increasingly powerful since voters passed the current term limits law in 1990.
Opponents included conservative activists and New York-based businessman Howard Rich, who has long financed term-limit measures. They contended the measure was a ploy to allow lawmakers to hold one office for 12 years rather than six years in the Assembly or eight years in the Senate. They said it would give too much power to legislative leaders and allow lawmakers to cozy up with lobbyists.
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