Been a long time coming. The twelve-year term limits law passed by Nevada voters in 1996 is finally taking effect.
Except for state lawmakers elected in 1996, that is.
Nineteen ninety-six plus twelve equals 2008. But in 1996, legislators seized on a technicality to claim that — unlike for other office-holders — for them the count didn’t start until 1998. That’s because, under Nevada law, state lawmakers take office the day after the election. Yet it takes more than a day to ratify ballot results. So the argument goes that it would be unfairly “retroactive” to include the 1996 term in the twelve-year limit.
Inspect the Nevada constitution, and you’ll see provisions stating that no person may be elected to legislative or other elective office who “has served in that office . . . twelve years or more. . . .” Nothing about starting the clock on the date the ballot measure is ratified.
But in 1996 politicians and courts pretended the new law was not retroactive, and got away with it.
Come 2008, non-legislative office-holders finally facing term limits scavenged for yet another technicality. They claimed that the law is unconstitutional and should be thrown out altogether. Fortunately, the Nevada Supreme Court didn’t play along with the latest scam, so Nevada voters must wait only two more years for state lawmakers to be ousted by it.
Better late than never.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.