WASHINGTON – As Gov. Rick Scott pitches term limits, a Florida Republican congressman is proposing an idea he says will eliminate the need to change the Constitution: After 12 years, a lawmaker's annual salary would drop to $1.
"Is it possible that a disruptive, game-changing measure like this could instill public confidence in Congress and set the stage for a wave of innovation and accomplishment?" asks Rep. Francis Rooney of Naples, an ally of Scott's.
His Thomas Jefferson Public Service Act, introduced with a handful of other lawmakers, seeks to capitalize on widespread public support for term limits but get around the "arduous process of amending the Constitution."
"When my home state of Florida passed term limits, 76% of Sunshine State voters voted in favor. In fact, Florida is one of 15 states to currently have legislative term limits," Rooney said in a release. "This year, a nationwide poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates found that 82% of voters support Congressional term limits, including 89% of Republicans, 83% of independents, and 76% of Democrats."
As Rooney points out, some argue that term limits hand more power over to an un-elected bureaucracy and there hasn't been much appetite for the idea aside from the campaign trail (it's Scott's centerpiece proposal).
Rooney's plan would reduce the salary of an elected Member of Congress to $1 a year after they serve six consecutive terms in the House or two consecutive terms in the Senate – which is what Scott has called for.
"Even though some Washington pundits and some of the so-called 'special interests' might disagree, I would argue that regular rotation of elected officials would stimulate more fresh ideas and make our legislators more independent. Once these limits take root, a new culture might arise which would be indomitable," Rooney says.