Lawmakers make push for term limits on elected state offices
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Implementing term limits on all elected state offices, including the New York Legislature, is gaining some traction in Albany because Democrat Andrew Cuomo and the Republican candidate challenging him in the governor’s race support the idea, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers said Thursday.
Led by Sen. Joseph Griffo, an Oneida County Republican, several Senate and Assembly members held a news conference near the Capitol to call for passage of bills that would limit the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, state comptroller and attorney general to two four-year terms. Terms in office for both houses of the Legislature should be capped at a total of 12 consecutive years, the lawmakers said.
“We shouldn’t all be in office in 30, 40, getting close to 50 years,” Assemblyman Mark Johns, a Rochester-area Republican, said in reference to some of the Legislature’s longest-tenured members.
Term limit legislation has been introduced before in Albany and gone nowhere, but Griffo said the latest effort during an election year is being helped by Cuomo, who’s running for a third term in November, and GOP candidate for governor Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County Executive. Both are in favor of term limits for statewide elected offices and the Legislature.
Cuomo has proposed legislation that would limit the four statewide elected offices and Legislature members to two four-year terms. Assembly and Senate members currently serve two-year terms with no limits on how many times they can be re-elected. The governor’s proposal would amend the New York State Constitution to put the issue before voters.
During a news conference in Albany last week, Molinaro came out in favor of term limits for statewide elected offices and the Legislature. Molinaro, who served two terms in the Assembly, said the governor and other statewide elected officials should be limited to two four-year terms, while lawmakers should be held to up to six two-year terms.
Doing so, Molinaro said, would be “a long overdue start to restore honesty and integrity to state government.”
Griffo acknowledged that getting term limit legislation passed in the Republican-led Senate will be “very difficult” with the Legislature scheduled to wrap up its session next week. There’s been little interest in passing the measures in the Democrat-controlled Assembly, where two-term lawmaker Carrie Woerner, of Saratoga County, is among the few Democrats who support term limits.
“Ensuring that our constituents have trust in the public officials they elect to serve them is critical for effect and transparent governance,” she said.
The GOP lawmakers said putting limits on the years spent in elected offices would bring fresh ideas to Albany and shake up the entrenched power structure at the Capitol.
“Holding office is civic duty, not a life-long career, and nor should it ever be a life-long career,” said Republican Sen. George Amedore, of the Mohawk Valley.