COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Opponents of a proposal to extend term limits for Ohio state lawmakers say they’ll take their fight to the ballot if need be.
Leaders of the Washington, D.C.-based group U.S. Term Limits and the 1851 Center said during a Statehouse news conference Thursday that a proposal to extend the consecutive number of years legislators can serve from eight to 12 is self-serving and beneficial to special interests.
At issue is a potential recommendation of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, which is revisiting the state constitution and recommending changes. The panel canceled a meeting scheduled for this week.
Term Limits president Philip Blumel said such commissions are a common vehicle for attempts at extending term limits around the country.
A subcommittee is weighing two recommendations extending term limits to 12 years in the Ohio House and Senate. One recommendation excludes sitting lawmakers, and one includes them. Ohio residents voted in 1992 to limit state representatives to four two-year terms and senators to two four-year terms.
Maurice Thompson, who leads the 1851 Center, said 2000 was the first year that term limits were really in play and even then the rules allowed lawmakers to move back and forth between the legislative chambers in 2008. Another eight-year cycle expires in 2016, he said.
Thompson said he expects the commission to put a term limits question on the May 2016 ballot but could also put it on the ballot as soon as this fall. Either way, opponents said, they will be prepared with a counter-campaign: an effort called 8 is Enough. They could also launch what Thompson called “a pre-emptive strike,” or a ballot measure that precedes any legislatively referred ballot proposal, or one that appears side by side with the commission-recommended plan.
The commission’s executive director, Steven Hollon, said a final decision on what will be recommended likely will come the first week of August.
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