Bay Ridge

Conservatives call for term limits in state government

July 24, 2013 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Every member of the state legislature is going to receive a letter from Mike Long next week, but the New York State Conservative Party chairman isn’t writing to find out how their summer vacations are going.

Long is announcing that the party is re-launching an effort to install term limits in state government and he is looking for lawmakers to be brave enough, and unselfish enough, to introduce legislation.

Under the Conservative Party plan, a governor would be limited to two terms, or eight years in office, and members of the state senate and assembly would get no more than six terms, or 12 years, in Albany.

“We hear a lot of talk about fixing Albany and about getting rid of the corruption. But nothing they’re doing is going to address the problem,” Long told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Wednesday. If legislators knew they only had a limited time to serve, they would concentrate on getting things done for the benefit of New Yorkers, instead of putting all of their focus into getting re-elected, he said.

Besides, said Long, “all of our presidents are limited to two terms and the country is fine with that.”

Conservatives arrived at the idea of two term and six term limits after careful consideration, according to Long, who lives in Bay Ridge. The idea having term limits be uniform across the board, two terms for legislators as well as two terms for the governor, was not even considered. “We’re trying to be realistic. Two terms for the legislative branch would have been just four years in office. The executive branch serves a four year term, so we were comfortable with a two-term limit there,” he said.

Long knows that his party is facing an uphill battle on the term limits front. “It’s pretty hard to get legislators to term limit themselves,” he said. If appealing to the lawmakers’ consciences doesn’t work, the Conservatives will consider pushing for a public referendum to be put on the ballot, similar to how the term limits law was passed in New York City.

Long said he is also aware that the entire legislator would be painted with the same broad term limits brush. If it passed, lawmakers the party has endorsed, like state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) would be term limited. “It would apply to everyone,” he said.

In addition to the letter to lawmakers, the Conservative Party also has an online petition, called the “Citizens Petition for Term Limits,” and is asking New Yorkers to sign it.

The party has favored term limits for many years, Long said. There have been efforts made before to get term limits passed at the stat level. “But we haven’t focused on it in a while,” he said.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D-Bensonhurst-Dyker Heights-parts of BoroughPark), who has been a legislator for 26 years, said he opposes the concept of term limits.

The amount of time an individual legislator serves in office should be up to the voters in that lawmaker’s district, according to Abbate. “The people should make the decision,” he said.

“Look at the mess term limits have caused in the city,” Abbate said. “You have people trying to move up to higher offices because they know they can’t run for re-election. And you have people running for office who are not ready. They’re running just because the seat is open,” he said.

For more information on the Conservative Party’s petition, visit the party’s website.

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