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State senator wants longer terms, term limits

ADAM LAWSON
Staff Writer

An 83-year-old North Carolina state senator has once again broached the idea of longer terms for state legislators.

Ronald Rabin, whose 12th District encompasses Harnett, Johnston and Lee Counties, told constituents in a Christmas newsletter that he plans on re-filing a bill that would give state lawmakers four-year terms and some form of a term limit. Under current two-year terms, the final year’s emphasis is on campaigning, Rabin said in the letter.

In Lincoln County, Sen. David Curtis agrees, to a point. Curtis, who has served in Raleigh since 2013, says he “could do a much better job governing” if he had a four-year term. He plans to miss key committee meetings in January and February to prepare for a March 15 primary against Mooresville challenger Chris Carney.

“It makes no sense to do it every two years,” Curtis said. “You’re basically in campaign mode every year. It would have the opposite effect of what the people who support it think it would have.”

Rep. Jason Saine, of Lincoln County, said a four-year term “is not a bad idea,” though it is one that needs to be voted on by the public. Carney, who served a brief stint in Raleigh following Sen. Jim Forrester’s death in 2011, said he doesn’t really think much about two- or four-year terms. An eight-year term limit, however, is one that would serve as a way to ensure new ideas are constantly entering the General Assembly, he said.

Curtis disagrees. Currently in the hunt for a third senatorial term, the retired optometrist believes experience is needed to guide new legislators.

“On the surface, term limits sound like a good idea,” Curtis said. “Until you get in and remember how much power career bureaucrats have. A new legislator coming in knows nothing. My impression is a lot of these career state employees think they should run the show and make the decision on how state government should be run. If we had term limits and had constant turnover of legislators, there’s a vast amount of knowledge to understand state government.”

According to the News & Observer, Rabin filed a similar bill in March that would’ve elected half the legislature every two years and imposed a term limit of four consecutive terms. It was sent to the Senate Rules Committee and didn’t get a hearing in 2015.

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