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Statewide term limits not good for Oregon

Oregon's experiment with legislative term limits proved detrimental to this state before. Voters ought to learn from experience and reject Measure 45 in the November election.

Measure 45 would restore term limits originally installed by Oregon voters when they overwhelmingly approved Measure 3 in 1992. The courts overturned that law because it violated the state Constitution's single-subject rule for ballot measures.

Now, a group backed by out-of-state money is trying to persuade Oregonians again that legislators should be allowed to serve no more than six years in the Oregon House and eight years in the Oregon Senate - or a total of 14 years altogether.

Usually, when considering ballot measures, Oregonians can only guess at potential consequences. In this case, we know what to expect. Term limits will sweep away those legislators who have the greatest knowledge of how to run state government and replace them with novices. The most seasoned legislators are the ones who've learned how to examine and question state-agency budgets, and they've had their sharp partisan edges worn down by years of rubbing elbows with people who think differently than they do.

In other words, we'll be tossing out those who give Oregonians the best hope of a better functioning government and install newcomers who must learn legislative basics before they can even aspire to statesmanship.

In every election, voters have the right to toss out an incumbent who is representing their district poorly. The decision, however, ought to be made district by district, not imposed statewide by term limits. The allure of this measure is that it allows us 'to throw all the rascals out.'

We tried that once, and the end result was a more partisan, less informed and less effective Legislature. Oregon is just now emerging from that unhealthy period. Let's not go back there again.