[EM] Idaho Lawmakers OK Term Limit Repeal
DEMOREP1 at aol.com
DEMOREP1 at aol.com
Wed Jan 30 23:23:21 PST 2002
Idaho Lawmakers OK Term Limit Repeal
By BOB FICK
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho's Legislature became the first in the nation to
vote to repeal term limits Wednesday, with Republicans leading the charge to
undo a measure they themselves had championed during the GOP's resurgence in
Gov. Dirk Kempthorne has promised to veto the measure, but the 27-8 Senate
vote Wednesday and last week's 50-20 House vote were both three votes more
than the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.
``It's an issue that good people approach and view differently,'' Kempthorne,
a Republican, said after Wednesday's vote. ``I believe I have to affirm the
right of the people to establish a rule.''
The Idaho Republican Party once endorsed term limits as a way to end the
careers of liberal East Coast members of Congress such as Sen. Edward
Kennedy. But the state GOP made the repeal part of its platform two years
Party leaders say local elected officials were never supposed to be the
target and that term limits take away critical experience from government,
especially in sparsely populated rural areas. They also argued that Idaho
voters were misled in the early 1990s by the big-money campaigns of outside
organizations like U.S. Term Limits.
Senate President Pro Tem Robert Geddes said term limits strip voters of their
responsibility to choose qualified leaders. ``By throwing officials out of
office after a fixed term, we rid ourselves of deciding who is good and who
is not,'' he said.
The term limits measure, approved by voters in 1994, restricts county
commissioners and school board members to six years in office during the
previous 11 years and all other elected state, county and city officials to
eight years in the previous 15. The eight-year limit on legislators is one of
the shortest in the nation.
Term limits advocates accused their opponents of ignoring the electorate and
called the attempted repeal unconstitutional.
``This is a law made by the people,'' Senate Democratic floor leader Clint
Stennett said. ``That process is superior. It's irresponsible, it's arrogant
for us to ignore it.''
Supporters have already promised to put term limits before voters again this
fall if the repeal is approved.
Currently 18 states limit the terms of state lawmakers.
The modern term limits movement began in Oklahoma with a 1990 referendum.
They were championed by conservatives and the push seemed to peak in 1994,
when the Republican Party took control of Congress.
The movement faltered the next year, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4
that states could not impose term limits on members of Congress. Some
lawmakers kept their pledges to voters to step down voluntarily, including
three-term Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, R-Idaho.
Unless Idaho's term limits are repealed, 158 county government officials and
the attorney general will be barred from filing for re-election this year.
The Legislature is not affected until 2004.
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