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{Will Wyoming Now Abandon} Term Limits for the Top Five {Officials}?
Cheyenne Wyoming Tribune-Eagle ^ | 05-14-04 | Olson, Ilene

Posted on 05/14/2004 6:36:56 AM PDT by Theodore R.

Term limits for the top five? The court ruling didn't apply to the governor and 4 other elected leaders, but they haven't indicated that challenging the law is in their plans.

By Ilene Olson Published in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle

CHEYENNE - Since Wyoming's term-limits law for legislators was overturned, many have wondered what that could mean for the law that requires the state's top five elected officials to step down after eight years of service.

In a decision last week, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled the law limiting legislators to 12 years of service in the House of Representatives or the Senate was unconstitutional. But that decision did not apply to the state's top five officials - the governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor and state superintendent of public instruction - because no one currently holding those offices was represented in the lawsuit.

Many believe the same logic likely would apply to both term-limits laws, as each places restrictions on a person's right to run for office that are not contained in the Wyoming Constitution.

"That would seem to be the result," Secretary of State Joe Meyer said after reading the decision last week.

Meyer said the three people who would be in a position to challenge the law would be himself, State Treasurer Cynthia Lummis and State Auditor Max Maxfield, as they all face term limits in 2006 after serving two terms of four years each.

But Meyer said he has been more concerned about how the ruling would affect his duties in organizing and running this year's election. He hasn't had much time to think about his plans beyond that, he said.

Lummis said she has no intention of challenging term limits for her office.

"I do not have a problem with term limits for the five elected officials," she said. "In fact, I support them. I believe there's a distinction between a year-round, full-time job and the Legislature, which meets 60 days during the course of two years. Legislators require more time to develop and see their agendas through.

"If a full-time, year-round elected official cannot accomplish what they set out to do in eight years, something is wrong."

Maxfield said he has no plans to challenge the law.

"I entered office knowing that term limits were in place," he said.

But, he added, "I agreed with the Supreme Court about the constitutionality of it. It does add another qualification that's not addressed in the constitution. I do think that it ought to be rectified if it's unconstitutional, but I'm not going to challenge it in court."

Maxfield also said the five elected officials' positions might warrant term limits because of their full-time status. Discussion on term limits for those offices should take place separately from debate over term limits for legislators, he said.

Rep. Tony Ross, R-Cheyenne, said neither discussion is among the pre-determined topics assigned to the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee. Ross serves as co-chairman of that committee.

"I suspect there could be a bill or two that could be filed (before the 2005 Legislature), but I don't expect that during the interim," he said.

Trent Blankenship, who is in the second year of his first term as superintendent of public instruction, said he has been on the road since the Supreme Court reached its decision and hasn't had a chance to read it. Until he has time to do that, he is not able to say what his reaction is or what his plans might be, he said.

But, he added, "I do believe the best type of term limits are the voters' ability to vote for or against an elected official at the voting booth."

Lara Azar, press secretary for Gov. Dave Freudenthal, said the governor supports term limits, both for legislators and for the state's five elected officials.

If the law stands, and if Blankenship and Freudenthal were re-elected in the 2006 election, they would face term limits in 2010.

Meanwhile, local legislators who were affected by term limits for the upcoming election are looking at their options now that the law limiting their service has been overturned.

Rep. Rodney "Pete" Anderson, R-Pine Bluffs, was one of the parties who challenged the constitutionality of the law. Now that he no longer faces term limits, Anderson said he will run for re-election to his seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives, where he stands a chance of being selected for a leadership position.

"But I have to get elected by my voters first, (then) I still have to be elected by peers," he added.

Sen. Rich Cathcart, D-Carpenter, who also challenged the law, said he is still trying to decide whether to run for re-election.

Rep. Wayne Johnson, R-Cheyenne, also faced term limits but was not a party to the lawsuit. Johnson said he plans to run for Cathcart's seat in the Senate.

"I did self-imposing term limits," he said. "Now I'm running for the Senate, and the office in the House is open to someone else in District 9 to represent our neighbors."

Johnson said he has no quarrel with the Supreme Court's decision.

"If it's unconstitutional, it's unconstitutional," he said. But he said 12 years is generally long enough for service in the House or Senate, "unless you're going up the leadership ladder, which takes more than 12 years.

"Each person must decide for themselves," he added.

Sen. April Brimmer Kunz, R-Cheyenne, could not be reached for comment. But, having served as Senate president, many believe she will follow tradition by opting not to run for re-election.

TOPICS: Government; Politics/Elections; US: Wyoming
KEYWORDS: auditor; cheyenne; governor; joemeyer; legislature; richcathcart; rodneyanderson; secstate; termlimits; tonyross; treasurer; waynejohnson; wy; wysupremect

1 posted on 05/14/2004 6:37:06 AM PDT by Theodore R.
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To: agitator; Bob J

Home on the Range BUMP!

2 posted on 05/14/2004 6:38:24 AM PDT by diotima (Juke Box Hero)
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