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California Proposition 28, Change in Term Limits (June 2012)

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Proposition 28
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Section 2 of Article IV
Referred by:"Californians for a Fresh Start" group
Topic:Term limits
Status:On the ballot
California Proposition 28, the California Change in Term Limits Initiative is on the June 5, 2012 ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment.

Proposition 28, if voters approve it, will:

The changes would not apply to any legislator who is already in office at the time that the initiative goes into effect (if it does go into effect); the rules governing the terms of those who are in the California State Legislature as of June 5, 2012 would be calculated under the previous rules.

California voters imposed term limits on the California Legislature in 1990, when they voted in favor of Proposition 140. Proposition 28, if it is approved, will alter Proposition 140.

Election date

The initiative originally qualified for the February 5, 2012 ballot. In early 2011, there was a widespread belief that Jerry Brown would qualify a Tax Increase Proposition for the June or November 2011 ballot. If that had happened, the "Change in Term Limits" measure would have been moved onto that 2011 ballot.[1],[2]

Around the time it became clear that there would be no 2011 ballot proposition election, the California State Legislature also voted to terminate the February 5, 2012 election date. This moved Proposition 28 to the June 5, 2012 ballot.

On October 7, 2011, Gov. Brown signed Senate Bill 202. SB 202 prohibits holding ballot proposition elections during June primaries. However, it applies only to ballot propositions that qualify on or after the date SB202 was signed.[3]

Text of measure

See also: Ballot titles, summaries and fiscal statements for California's 2012 ballot propositions

Ballot title:

Limits on Legislators' Terms in Office. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Official summary:

Reduces the total amount of time a person may serve in the state legislature from 14 years to 12 years. Allows a person to serve a total of 12 years either in the Assembly, the Senate, or a combination of both. Applies only to legislators first elected after the measure is passed. Provides that legislators elected before the measure is passed continue to be subject to existing term limits.

Summary of estimated fiscal impact:

No direct fiscal effect on state or local governments.

Constitutional changes

California Constitution
See also: Text of California Proposition 28

If this measure succeeds, it will:



Website banner of the "Yes on 28" campaign


The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the measure and have named their group "Californians for a Fresh Start."[4]

Maria Elena Durazo, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federal of Labor AFL-CIO, is leading the ballot proposition effort. She also led a lobbying campaign to exempt Majestic Realty, a donor to the term limits campaign, from environmental regulations that would otherwise have applied to its proposed stadium in the City of Industry.[5]

The official Voter Guide arguments in favor of Proposition 28 were signed by:

Arguments in favor

Arguments made by the "Yes on 28" campaign for the state's official Voter Guide include:

  • "Our current term limits law needs fixing. It's two decades old, but our Legislature is still filled with career politicians more focused on campaigning for their next office than doing their job. Proposition 28 is a simple reform that will help make our Legislature more accountable."
  • "The current term limits law is based on the number of terms served. It says legislators can only complete their 14-year lifetime limit by serving three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year terms in the Senate. But the courts have opened up a loophole allowing politicians to serve up to nearly 17 years by filling partial term vacancies that don't get counted as part of their limit. Prop. 28 reduces the lifetime limit to 12 years and closes that '17-year loophole' by imposing a strict limit based on the number of years served in the Legislature, not on the number of terms."
  • "After 12 years in the Legislature – whether in the Assembly, Senate, or a combination of the two – a politician is prohibited from running for the Legislature. Every year counts. To make sure there are no more loopholes, current and former legislators are prohibited from using Proposition 28 to extend their lifetime limits."
  • "The current term limits law inadvertently encourages the wrong behaviors. The only way legislators can complete their lifetime limit is to move from office to office. Once elected, they start holding fundraisers and looking for their next office. Many Assembly members fail to reach the six-year maximum before they leave to seek their next office. Politicians looking ahead for their next office are not concentrating on representing concerns of their current district. Proposition 28 gives legislators the choice of running for re-election in the same district instead of flipping offices to complete their lifetime limits. This will focus legislators on serving their districts to get re-elected instead of on lining up support in Sacramento to run elsewhere."
  • "Legislators who are jumping from office to office aren't focused on learning their job. This leaves legislators ill-prepared to stand up to more experienced special interest lobbyists and take on the big issues and challenges facing our state. Almost 40% of Assembly members are new to their jobs after each election. By removing the incentive to change office just to complete their lifetime limits, Proposition 28 means legislators will be more likely to learn their job and develop the expertise to get things done."
  • "Proposition 28 won't solve all the problems in Sacramento. But it is a step forward that brings positive change that helps make the Legislature more effective and accountable."


$2.1 million has been contributed to the campaign for a "yes" vote on Proposition 28, as of March 15, 2012.

These are the main donors to the Proposition 28 campaign as of March 15, 2012:

Donor Amount
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor[6] $612,500
Majestic Realty $400,000
Alliance for a Stronger Community $149,500
Pacific Gas & Electric $100,000
Jerrold Perenchio $100,000
LA Jobs PAC (Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce) $100,000
LA Live Properties, LLC $100,000
Thomas Investment Partners $50,000
United Nurses Associations of California $50,000
Eli Broad $50,000

Notes on donors:

  • LA Live Properties is a corporation controlled by Philip Anschutz, a billionaire who lives in Colorado. Anschutz and Ed Roski of Majestic Realty seek, separately, to build a new NFL stadium for the San Diego Chargers. According to the San Diego Reader, "Their contributions are seen by political insiders as a way to curry favor and support by Democrats and big labor in the battle over who will build L.A.'s giant new sports venue and move in a team to occupy it."[7]


"No on 28" website banner


The official Voter Guide arguments against Proposition 28 were signed by:

Arguments against

Jon Fleischman says that Proposition 28 will lead to a situation where most California state legislators will serve more years in office. He also argues that the official ballot language was written so as to be deliberately misleading:

"Then-Attorney General Jerry Brown used his position to again compromise the integrity of California’s elections process. He wrote a description of Proposition 28 that intentionally tries to trick the voters of California into casting a ballot to do the exact opposite of what they intend and think they will be voting for. Voters will understandably believe they are voting to strengthen and toughen term limits for legislators when in fact they will be greatly increasing terms for politicians."[9]

Arguments made against Proposition 28 in the official Voter Guide include:

  • "It is one of the most dishonest and deceitful ballot measures in the history of California – and that's saying a lot! This is just the latest slimy effort by politicians and their special interest supporters to try and FOOL VOTERS into gutting California's voter-approved term limits law."
  • "Proposition 28 is designed to trick voters into thinking it strengthens term limits when it does the exact opposite. Prop. 28 actually weakens term limits for state legislators and dramatically lengthens the amount of time politicians can stay in office!"
  • "That is why Prop. 28 is written and funded with millions of dollars by the most powerful special interests in California including unions opposed to pension reforms that could save taxpayers billions of dollars."
  • "Proposition 28's top backer is a wealthy developer who sought a special exemption from environmental regulations by the Legislature – at the exact same time he was paying to qualify this initiative – so that he could make millions by building a sports stadium. The Legislature gladly gave the developer the sweetheart deal he wanted – and he rewarded the politicians by making sure that those who were elected to the state Legislature would be able to stay in office for many more years than the current term limits law allows."
  • "Proposition 28 allows politicians to be in the California State Assembly for 12 years — not the 6 year maximum permitted under current law. That means members of the State Assembly will actually have THEIR TIME IN OFFICE DOUBLED – NOT REDUCED!"
  • "The politicians and special interests spent millions to try and stop term limits when it first passed. Since then, they have tried twice to trick voters into letting the politicians stay in power for many more years. Proposition 28 is just their latest slimy trick to fool voters."


Howie Rich has contributed $45,000 to the effort to defeat Proposition 28.[10]

Editorial opinion

See also: Endorsements of California ballot measures, 2012

"Yes on 28"

  • Mercury News: "California is too big and complex to be governed by amateur legislators. Writing effective laws and seeing through shams requires deep understanding of the state's problems and time to build trust in partners who share policy goals. New Assembly members have neither, so most often they rely on lobbyists to tell them what to care about. Then they sit back as those lobbyists direct campaign donations their way -- all without having done a thing to improve California's future."[11]

"No on 28"

Polling information

See also: Polls, 2012 ballot measures

A poll taken in late February 2012 by Public Policy Institute of California showed that a majority of likely voters support Proposition 28.[12],[13]

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and American Viewpoint jointly conducted a poll for USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll from March 14-19, 2012.[14]

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
February 21-28, 2012 PPIC 68% 24% 8% 2,001
March 14-19, 2012 By GQR & AV for USC Dornsife/LAT 51% 32% 17% 1,500
May 14-20, 2012 PPIC 62% 29% 9% 2,002
May 17-21, 2012 By GQR & AV for USC Dornsife/LAT 49% 33% 12% 1,002
May 21-29, 2012 Field 50% 28% 22% 608

Path to the ballot

See also: California signature requirements

The campaign to qualify the term limits measure for the ballot hired Kimball Petition Management to collect signatures. KPM received $1,424,087 for its work.[15]

Supporters of the initiative originally hoped that their measure would qualify for the November 2, 2010 ballot. However, after signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot were submitted, it was determined by election officials that a random sampling technique would not be sufficient to determine whether enough signatures had been filed.

After California's Secretary of State announced in June that a full check of all signatures submitted to qualify the measure would be required, supporters acknowledged that this would push the measure's validation date past the June 24 deadline for certifying measures for the November 2 ballot.[16]

On October 8, 2009, Lance H. Olson of Olson, Hagel & Fishburn filed a request with the Office of the California Attorney General for an official ballot title on the measure.

The Attorney General's office provided that title, and the measure was cleared for circulation with a circulation deadline of April 22, 2010. On April 22, supporters of the initiative submitted more than 1 million signatures to county election officials.[17]

See also: California ballot initiative petition signature costs

Term limits in California

Voting on
Term Limits
Term limits.jpg
Ballot Measures
By state
By year
Not on ballot

State legislative
term limits

term limits
Lieutenant Governors
term limits
Secretaries of State
term limits
Attorneys General
term limits
State executive
term limits

California voters imposed term limits on the California Legislature in 1990, when they voted in favor of Proposition 140 by a margin of 52-48%. Proposition 140 limits state Assembly members to three two-year terms and state senators to two four-year terms, and imposes a lifelong ban against seeking the same office once the limits have been reached.

Bates v. Jones

In the case of Bates v. Jones, Bates--a termed-out Assemblyman--sued in federal court to have the provisions of Proposition 140 declared unconstitutional. A federal court agreed with his claim, before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against him, keeping the limits in place.

Prop 45 in 2002

Main article: California Proposition 45 (2002)

California State Senate president pro tem John Burton (D-San Francisco) vigorously sponsored an effort in 2002 to rollback the provisions of 1990's Proposition 140 by putting Proposition 45 on the March 2002 ballot. Voters rejected Proposition 45 by a margin of 42-58%. Had Proposition 45 passed, it would have allowed state legislators to serve for four years beyond the limits allowed by Proposition 140.

Prop 93 in 2008

Main article: California Proposition 93 (2008)

Proposition 93, an initiated constitutional amendment supported by Don Perata was defeated 53.6% to 46.4% during the February 5, 2008 statewide primary election. Had it passed, members of the California State Legislature would have been allowed to remain in their current office up to 12 years.

See also

External links

Suggest a link



Additional reading:


  1. Fresno Bee, "Term limits, tobacco tax could move to June special election", January 12, 2011
  2. Fox and Hounds Daily, "Cigarette Tax Initiative: More Ballot Box Budgeting", March 1, 2011
  3. "California Secretary of State", "Qualified Ballot Measures"
  4. Capitol Weekly, "Initiative backers submit paperwork promising a busy 2010 cycle", October 22, 2009
  5. 5.0 5.1 Los Angeles Times, "After win in Sacramento, L.A. football stadium developer backs easing of term limits", December 30, 2009
  6. Sacramento Bee, "LA labor federation digging deep to alter term limits", February 5, 2010
  7. San Diego Reader, "L.A. Stadium Rivals Give Big to Labor-Backed Term Limits Changes", March 9, 2012
  8. Sacramento Bee, "California Republican Party endorses auto rate initiative", February 26, 2012
  9. Fox and Hounds Daily, "No On 28: The Term Limits Scam Is Back!", February 28, 2012
  10. San Francisco Chronicle, "Term-limit backers, foes square off on Prop. 28", March 24, 2012
  11. Mercury News, "Mercury News editorial: In June 5 election, vote yes on Prop. 28", April 6, 2012
  12. Central Valley Business Times, "Proposed change to state lawmaker term limits sees support", March 7, 2012
  13. Public Policy Institute of California, "Californians And Their Government", March 2012
  14. Fox 40, "Strong majority backs Jerry Brown's tax-hike initiative", March 25, 2012
  15. Details of expenditures
  16. Sacramento Bee, "Term limits measure unlikely to make November ballot deadline", June 16, 2010
  17. Sacramento Bee, "Ballot measure to alter terms limits turns in 1 million signatures", April 22, 2010