Is It Time for Term Limits?

George D. Maziarz

May 07, 2009

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From WGRZ (Channel 2 News)

Over a dozen states around the country have term limits. An exclusive poll conducted for 2 On Your Side reveals that an overwhelming number of state residents would like to see reform by means of limiting the number of years a lawmaker serves in Albany.

Senator Dale Volker has served in Albany over three decades. He is opposed to term limits, but he admits "oh, it's been talked about for years."

There is a bill sponsored in both the Assembly and Senate to limit the number of years a lawmaker can serve. The bill would increase the number of years legislators serve from two years to four years and cap service at three consecutive terms.

Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-Crown heights) told 2 On Your Side "the people want term limits, but the legislators, the politicians themselves, we have not voted for it and I think that we should." His bill is stuck in a committee. "There's no chance of it happening...this session," said Camara.

There is also a bill sponsored by a democrat in the State Senate. Currently, it is in the judiciary committee and Senator George Maziarz is the ranking republican on the committee. He says he will push to get the bill discharged from committee and placed on the floor. Maziarz is not opposed to term limits.

It should be noted that both bills call for term limits for the Governor, Attorney General and Comptroller.

Retired State Assemblyman Dick Smith, a democrat, does not favor term limits. One reason he says has to do with seniority. "One of the biggest losses to the city of Buffalo area was Arthur Eve. Eve was Deputy Assembly Speaker and he was one of the most senior men in the Assembly. He raised a lot of clout. He helped a lot of projects in WNY because of his seniority."

Assemblyman Camara says the people want term limits and it should happen. He found the 2 On Your Side poll numbers showing that 8 out 10 people wanting change very interesting. "This is not just people who are cynical saying throw the bums out. They are looking at it from an intellectual perspective, they see what's going on in Albany and the federal government."

The Senate Majority leader has a draft proposal for reform that includes term limits on committee chairmen.