How long is too long? Group advocating for congressional term limits launches Utah chapter

Composite image incorporates from top to bottom U.S. Term Limits organization log; USA/Utah map by stock_art / Digital Vision Vectors / Getty Images; U.S. Capitol by MedioImages/Photodisc / Getty; St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A national group calling for congressional term limits has opened a chapter in Utah. They are seeking to gain legislative and citizen support for a constitutional convention focused creating an amendment aimed at curbing the creation of career politicians.

U.S. Term Limits announced Sunday that it has launched a Utah chapter to “continue the progress that Democrats and Republicans have made to reign in the powerful in Washington, D.C. by imposing congressional term limits.”

Imposing term limits will restore trust in government and power to the people, the group said in a news release.

“This nationwide initiative to impose term limits on congress has garnered bipartisan support on the state level and on the federal level,” Justin Anderson, director of the Utah chapter, said in the release. “Accountability and transparency are not partisan issues, rather a divisive issue between the establishment and the people.”

The group argues that so-called career politicians do not represent their constituents, lack transparency and are generally opposed to progress as they support the establishment and status quo that keeps them in power.

As anyone familiar with Utah politics may guess, when the idea of term limits is brought up, mention of the state’s senior senator isn’t far behind.

Right or wrong, 83-year-old Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has served as one of Utah’s senators for 40 years and counting, is often used as an example by those who support term limits due to his longevity in congressional service.

U.S. Term Limits points to Hatch’s 1976 run for Senate against then three-term Sen. Frank Moss during which he brought up how long his opponent had served in congress.

Senator, you have served the people of Utah for 18 years; it’s time to retire,” Hatch said to Moss at the time.

Part of Hatch’s argument for Moss was that he and other long-serving senators had lost touch with their constituents.

Over the four decades Hatch has served in the Senate, he has held various positions, and currently serves as  chair of the Senate Finance Committee and as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was also made the President pro tempore of the Senate in 2015.

Sen. Hatch has accumulated three of the most valuable commodities in D.C.: seniority, a history of bipartisan success and a great title,” Kirk Jowers, head of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, told the Deseret News when Hatch was made the president pro tempore in January 2015.

Hatch announced last fall he is considering running for an eighth term and has since solidified that consideration.

“I’m planning on running again, there’s no question about that,” Hatch told Fox 13 News in April.

Still, in a poll by The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinkley Institute of Politics that published last month, a majority of Utahns polled said they didn’t want Hatch to run for another term.

“We have the discussion among Utahns who overwhelmingly want Hatch to retire,” Anderson told St. George News Tuesday.

Nearly 8-in-10 Utahns polled – 78 percent overall – would like to see Hatch retire. The poll involved 614 registered Utah voters and has a margin for error of 3.95 percent.

While U.S. Term Limits isn’t specifically targeting Hatch with the opening of the Utah chapter, Anderson said, he is nonetheless seen as a prime example for why term limits are needed.

However, Hatch’s Office argues there already are term limits at play in congress, and they are enacted by the voters.

The Constitution already provides term limits: they‘re called elections,” Matt Whitlock, a spokesman for Hatch’s office, told The Salt Lake Tribune. “The people of Utah have consistently shown that they support the Constitution as written. Utah’s voters can make their own decisions regarding who represents them in Congress, and they do so without the patronization of out-of-state interest groups who think they know better.”

Nevertheless, Anderson said term limits are widely supported in Utah and across the country. He cited an October 2016 poll published by Utah Policy that 88 percent of Utahns favor the term limits for their congressional representatives.

U.S. Term Limits hopes to work with the Utah Legislature to pass a resolution to support an Article V constitutional convention in which a term limits amendment may be crafted and ratified by third-thirds of the state legislatures.

“This is not the left versus the right,” Anderson said. “Rather, this is the establishment versus the constituents.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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  • ScanMeister August 9, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Yes term limits indeed! We have young talent not distanced from folks they represent. Term Limits Yes!

  • Sapphire August 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

    It is more complicated than term limits. It is very expensive to get elected, hence the indebtedness to lobbyists. After that, Congress makes laws, so a thorough knowledge of US laws is necessary, and then being able to make new laws without loopholes can be difficult. It takes time for a newcomer to learn how everything works in the Senate or the House before that person can become effective and hopefully influence the rest of Congress. It is not just a matter of throw someone new in there with good intentions and all our national problems will cease.

  • Brian August 9, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I fully support term limits (probably 2 terms for senators, and 8 years max for the house).

    However, a Constitutional Convention is very risky. 100% of them so far have been “runaway conventions”, where the delegates did FAR more than they were actually supposed to. Granted, that’s only 1 out of 1, and the outcome was good, but the Founding Fathers were generally honorable men that were well versed in history and humanity. I don’t trust the weasels today AT ALL.

    So the safe way to do this is to come up with exact language, like: “Effective upon the 38th state legislature passing this exact language, we call for it to be a new amendment to the United States Constitution: ‘US Senators are limited to two terms of 6 years each (12 years total), and US Congressmen are limited to four terms of 2 years each (8 years total). Sitting Senators and Congressman that have already exceeded this limited are prohibited from running for re-election. A single term of less than half a full term, brought about due to a special election, shall not count against this limit.'”

    Then work with each individual state to pass legislation supporting that amendment. When the 38th state passes it (2/3, as required by the Constitution) poof! It’s a new Constitutional Amendment.

    Multiple individual topics, each standing entirely on their own merits, can be worked on simultaneously, with zero chance of a runaway, and with full transparency. No backroom deals, no secrecy, no bribes, no threats.

  • utahdiablo August 10, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    At the very least throw the congress bums out from California & New York….but yes Term limits of 10 years max….if you don’t pad your bank account by then, too bad

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