It’s always a good sign when the people in power enact reasonable limits on that power, all by themselves. It shows that they have respect for voters and democracy.
That seems to the attitude in Rhode Island, where Representative William J. Murphy, a member of the Rhode Island House who is about to become Speaker, is working with four other leaders to limit the terms of legislative leaders. And they don’t want to do it by gentleman’s agreement or easily rescinded statute, either. They want a constitutional amendment.
Murphy says he does not want to serve the same decade-long stint as Speaker that his predecessor served. He believes that eight consecutive years as House Speaker or Senate President should be the limit. His goal is to “help restore the confidence of the people of Rhode Island in the legislature and its leadership.”
Rhode Islanders have been critical of apparent abuse among legislative leaders in recent years which included an attempt to cover up allegations of abuse of power by a previous speaker.
Murphy says, “My most important priority as speaker will be to remove that siege and restore the confidence of the people of Rhode Island in the General Assembly and in its leaders. If I cannot accomplish that goal, I will consider my time as speaker of the House a failure.
“Term limits for the principal leader of each chamber is one of several legislative reform initiatives that I will be proposing.”
Great start on a great idea. Next, how about term-limiting all the members of the Rhode Island Legislature?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.