NEW YORK — A new law allowing Michael Bloomberg to seek a third term as mayor of New York City could be undone by the state legislature, which is considering a bill to require a voter referendum on the issue.
Arguing his expertise was needed to help the city deal with the global financial crisis, Bloomberg this month signed a law increasing the term limit for elected officials to three four-year terms from two.
The law reversed two public referendums, held in 1993 and 1996, that imposed the two-term limit. Bloomberg is a former Wall Street trader and self-made billionaire who was elected mayor in 2001 and again in 2005.
State Sen. Kevin Parker on Friday submitted a bill that would block the law from taking effect until a referendum is held in early March. A companion bill has been proposed in the New York State Assembly and both bills will be formally introduced at the next legislative session on Wednesday.
"This creates a bad precedent in this state for people who want to hold onto power," said Parker, a Brooklyn Democrat.
He said the bill would halt the Republican mayor's "power grab" and allow voters to be heard.
State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who proposed his version of the bill earlier this month, said 16 members of the 150-member assembly have agreed to co-sponsor the bill and Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat and power broker in the statehouse, has vowed not to block it.
A spokesman for Bloomberg declined to comment. But the mayor has rejected holding a referendum on the grounds that New Yorkers could express any disagreement by not voting for him in the November 2009 election.
A civil rights lawsuit is pending in federal court that contests the term limits law for denying voters "meaningful participation in the political process."