Thirty-six states have term limits for governor – Utah is not one of those states. In response, an effort is underway to bring term limits to Utah for statewide constitutional elected office holders, including the Governor, and a statewide initiative to limit appointees to more than 350 state boards and commissions to two terms.
Citing that 79% of voters support term limits, Rick B. Larsen, organizer of the campaign Utah Term Limits NOW!, says the public has made it clear they want citizen representatives, not career politicians and appointees, “Term limits reduce the chance of entrenched politicians who are out of touch with voters, yet untouchable due to their incumbency. Our elected officials, if they are truly representing the public, will embrace term limits as the word of the people.”
Larsen is referring to a recent statewide survey wherein 79% of Utah voters expressed support of term limits for statewide elected officials, with only 10% in opposition. 56% said they “strongly support” the measure and only 5% said they “strongly oppose” it. The survey conducted in April by the polling firm Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, showed similar support for limiting the terms of appointees to Utah’s boards and commissions, with 75% in support to only 14% opposed. Strong support crossed all political, gender, geographic and age categories with men, women, Democrats, Independents, Republicans, Rural and Urban voters, all registering support greater than 69% for both measures. Women over 55, a key demographic, showed 90% support for term limits for statewide office holders.
If the proposed term limit law moves forward, Utah would join the majority of other states with similar laws.
The effort calls upon the Utah Legislature to refer to the November 2016 ballot a state constitutional amendment to limit the offices of Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, State Auditor and State Treasurer to no more than two consecutive four-year terms. A citizens’ initiative, filed today, would place a limit on the length of tenure for appointees to state boards and commissions on the November 2016 ballot, as well.
“We are quick to applaud our successes as a state and we need to be equally responsive to our failures. The dovetailing of public support and backing from both former and current elected officials makes now, the ideal time to catch up with the nation on this vital governance issue,” said Larsen.
As a prolific charity fundraiser and strategist, Larsen has seen firsthand, the influence of former and sitting public officials—most of whom advocate the necessity of term limits. “Today, political leaders from both sides of the aisle are expressing their long-held beliefs and speaking to the importance of term limits,” said Larsen.
Governor Gary Herbert
“I think our Founding Fathers always believed people would serve for limited periods of time and then go back and live with the laws they’ve passed.”
Peter Corroon, Former Salt Lake County Mayor
“Especially with the executive branch, if you can’t do your job in eight years or so, I think you probably need to move on anyway.”1
Lt. Governor Spencer Cox
“Limiting politicians' time in office could change the way they approach their jobs.”
“These problems we have with people not voting their conscience and worrying about the next election would go away if we had term limits."2
Former Governor Jon Huntsman Jr.
“Utah governors need to be limited to two terms in office to avoid ‘empire-building.’”
“Utah needs fresh faces and new ideas in government to continue to grow and progress. In the best interest of Utah, each governor should serve a maximum of two four-year terms. I will limit myself to eight years, assuming Utahns will have me, and propose that we legislate term limits for the governor.”
In addition to term limits for statewide elected offices, the campaign has filed a citizens’ initiative limiting board and commission appointees to no more than two terms or ten years, whichever is shorter. The list of boards and commissions includes diverse interests from the Air Quality Board and Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to the Boating Advisory Council, Museum Services Advisory Board, and the Fish Health Policy Board. A list from the Governor’s website – gva1.utah.gov/boards/boards.aspx– shows Utah has over 350 separate boards and commissions with thousands of appointees.
As written, statewide elected officials who are holding office when the measure would take effect – January 2, 2017 – would be allowed to complete their term, even if they have served more than two terms up to that point. Current appointees who have served more than two terms would be allowed to serve up to an additional two years. Elections or appointments after January 2, 2017 would be subject to the term limits.
The new committee formed to push for term limits – Utah Term Limits NOW!– expects to gather 140,000 initiative petition signatures, well in excess of the 101,981 voter signatures necessary to qualify the measure for the ballot. In addition, Utah Term Limits NOW!will simultaneously gather a similar number of term limit support cards and signatures urging Utah Legislators to refer the statewide elected officials term limits measure to the ballot.
The effort calls upon the Utah Legislature to refer to the November 2016 ballot, a state constitutional amendment to limit the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Auditor, State Treasurer and Attorney General to no more than two consecutive four-year terms.
“Expiration dates are for our protection. They serve to enhance quality, ensure swift action or increase safety,” said Larsen. “It is these exact benefits, and many more, we will see when we enact these long-overdue term limits and revert power back to the people, the foundation upon which our government was founded.”
Voters can volunteer and find out how to sign the petition by visiting http://www.UtahTermLimits.com.