At the League of Women Voters of Maine, we were pleased to learn that Gov. LePage would like to repeal legislative term limits (“LePage calls for ending term limits for Maine legislators,” March 20). We have always been opposed to them because they are unnecessary.

Legislators have never been entitled to retain their seats indefinitely. Elections take place every other November, and voters have the right to send their senators or representatives packing if they have not been well served.

In addition to being unnecessary, term limits are harmful. Before they took effect in 1996, many legislative committee chairs had become subject matter experts. Now, chairs with little to no experience must maneuver the minefields of utilities or insurance or labor.

Without a thorough knowledge of the matters they are considering, legislators can be too easily swayed by the advocacy of paid lobbyists or state officials rather than the best interests of Maine residents. This diminishes the representative role of one branch of government, endangering the separation of powers.

Furthermore, legislators who can serve only a maximum of eight years lack institutional memory. Because they are new on the scene, they often introduce bills that have historically lacked support. Since the advent of term limits, the number of bills has grown markedly, increasing the workload of the Legislature and its staff.

When Maine’s voters approved term limits in November 1993, they did so with the understanding that term limits would improve legislative representation. However, more than two decades later, the experiment has failed.

The time has come to reverse course. The Legislature can repeal term limits by simple majority and allow the voters to determine every other Election Day how long their legislators should serve.

Jill Ward
vice president, League of Women Voters of Maine
South Portland