The Texas Senate passed, in a 27 to 4 vote, a term limits proposal that if passed by the House would go to a public Constitutional Amendment vote. Senator Kevin Eltife of Tyler defended criticism of his bill by saying “his bill doesn’t leave it to the Legislature to decide, but presents the opportunity for Texans to determine the kind of government they want,” according to Christy Hoppe at the Dallas Morning News.
Senator Craig Estes lead a fight against the bill saying that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. To single out one branch of government isn’t right.” Senator Estes was right and Eltife’s weak defense was wrong.
Eltife’s bill doesn’t let, as he claims, Texans “determine the kind of government they want,” because he and other senators acted as cowards by leaving out of the bill our right to choose to limit their terms.
I’m not fully convinced it is healthy to take voters’ rights away to re-elect those of whom they approve. But if there is a place for term limits, surely the bodies which build the most power through seniority and spend our money, namely the House and Senate, should be the first to be considered for such.
Under the Texas Constitution, statewide officials, those covered by Eltife’s bill, don’t have much independent power except that given, or funded, by the Legislature. Even the Texas governor is among the weakest in the United States by most rating methods.
I’m not even a fan of limiting the terms of legislators since in Texas they only meet for 140 days every two years and do go home to live under the laws they pass.
Senator Estes is right in pointing out the self-serving, or at least unfair, nature of Eltife’s term limits bill.