Illinoisans have developed numbness to scandal after scandal exposing corruption among our politicians. With our previous two governors serving time and one of our U.S. representatives staring down his incarceration, corruption has sadly become commonplace in Illinois. Too many Illinoisans have seemingly accepted it as a way of life and have lost faith in our government. I believe we can and must do better.
The good news is that there are some simple reforms we can implement which will make an immediate impact. During my time as a state senator and representative, I proposed term limits to stifle the power given to Illinois politicians and cut off corruption at the knees.
On Jan. 26, 2012, I introduced legislation in the Illinois Senate to impose a 10-year term limit on all Illinois legislators. I believe that this reform is long overdue. It is high time we return to a citizen-based legislature where citizen-servants attend to the business of the state and then return home to their community. We must put service back in public service. Serving this state should be honorable and recognized as a call to duty. It is a privilege to serve. Being a member of the Illinois General Assembly should not be an opportunity to get connected or become rich, but to make Illinois better. The longer a legislator serves, the more chances there are for increased power and illegal activity.
My resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to prohibit a person from holding office in the Illinois legislature for more than 10 years. This service would be cumulative, meaning it would count time served in either chamber, as well as time served non-consecutively. Unfortunately, this legislation was not allowed to the Senate floor for a vote.
As a Representative, I filed this legislation in the Illinois House in January of 2013. It was read in full a first time in the House on Feb. 1 and was referred to the Rules Committee, where it will stay because this committee allows Speaker Michael Madigan to control what gets a hearing and what doesn’t see the light of day.
Fifteen state legislatures have adopted term limits. Eight of America’s 10 largest cities adopted term limits for their city councils and/or mayors, and 37 states place term limits on their constitutional officers.
A poll conducted in Illinois, when the bill was first introduced, showed that 75 percent of Illinois residents favored term limits for state legislators. This state is full of competent people whose expertise can be invaluable. With term limits, qualified residents should not have to worry about raising obscene amounts of money in order to run for office. The people of Illinois deserve the opportunity to elect new people, which will bring new energy and many new ideas into the law-making process.
Term limits will dial down the political pressure by offering legislators a freedom of sorts to vote in favor of their constituents and not their reelection bids. This will, in turn, encourage more citizens to run for office and make the changes Illinois desperately needs to see.
State Rep. Ron Sandack is a Republican serving Illinois’ 81st District.