Voters should have say on term limits

  • Wednesday, July 24, 2013 4:48pm
  • News

Here’s a brain teaser for you. Which of the following doesn’t belong in the group:

1. A citizen group petitions for the repeal of Senate Bill 21, which changed how oil industry taxes are figured.

2. Opponents of Homer’s plastic bag ban gather enough signatures to put a repeal of the ban before voters on the October ballot.

3. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly considers whether to overturn term limits imposed by a citizen initiative in 2007 and reaffirmed by voters, again through the initiative process, in 2009.

If No. 3 is your answer, pat yourself on the back and give assembly members a call. Whether you’re a fan of term limits or not, the message should be the same: Voters, not assembly members, should be the ones making this decision.

We’re not big fans of term limits at the local level. Term limit opponents are correct when they say such restrictions have the effect of limiting voters’ choices and mean citizens lose representatives with valuable experience. Plus, there’s little or no evidence that term limits for assembly members have improved borough government. 

On the other hand, there’s little or no evidence that they have hurt borough government.

But arguments for or against term limits, no matter how solid, don’t matter at all here. The voters decided they wanted term limits and they should be the ones to decide to repeal term limits. It’s that simple.

Kudos to assembly members who get that concept. They include District 8 assembly member Bill Smith, who represents Homer, and District 9 assembly member Mako Haggerty, who represents other portions of the southern peninsula.

There’s nothing wrong with a healthy debate about term limits and if those limits are having the desired effect — which should be to improve local government — but the debate should start and end with citizens, not assembly members.

When this issue comes before the borough assembly at its Aug. 6 meeting, there is only one right move for the assembly: A unanimous vote to keep term limits in place just the way they were approved by voters. Any other decision is blatant disregard for voters and the process that put term limits in place.


Extension too short

Two weeks, really? NOAA’s extension of the comment period on the proposed halibut Catch Sharing Plan by 14 days is barely better than no extension at all. 

The Homer Chamber of Commerce had requested a 60-day extension. U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich had requested a 45-day extension.

The new deadline for comments is Aug. 26, still the busy season for those most affected by the plan.  As Sen. Begich put it: “Giving Alaskans just two weeks more during the busy summer fishing season to comment on a contentious plan on how we manager our state’s halibut fishery is a disservice.”

We couldn’t agree more. It’s another example of government not understanding how its actions affect people. Don’t miss your opportunity to comment. Information on where to send those comments can be found on page 15 of today’s newspaper.


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