NORWAY – Sending Maine’s term-limits law back to referendum “is a waste of money” and an effort that will fail, predicted former state Senate President Richard Bennett of Norway.

A recent poll shows that term limits is just as popular now as it was in 1993, when voters approved it, Bennett said Wednesday, reacting to House and Senate votes to send term limits back to referendum. He called the votes “astonishing.”

Bennett, who was termed out last year after eight years in the Senate, heads the citizens group Don’t Touch Term Limits. If a term-limits repeal gets on the 2006 ballot, Bennett said his group will campaign against it.

On Tuesday, Don’t Touch Term Limits released poll results showing that, of 500 likely Maine voters polled on May 24, a majority still favor term limits. The polling asked: If voters had a chance to vote on the question again, would they vote for or against term limits? Sixty-four percent said they would vote for term limits, 30 percent against, 7 percent were not sure.

The poll was commissioned by U.S. Term Limits and conducted by Rasmussen Reports, a national polling firm, according to Bennett. The polling shows that “people like term limits,” said Bennett. While many legislators blame term limits for a host of problems, Bennett said term limits has done much good, such as adding new people and new energy, “and (has) broken ruling cliques” at the State House.

Complaining that legislative leaders have not reformed the institution to accommodate term limits, Bennett said there are many big problems facing Maine. “Term limits ain’t one of them,” he said.

– Bonnie Washuk

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