Idaho repeals term limits

Saturday, February 2, 2002

BOISE, Idaho -- Idaho became the first state Friday to repeal its term limits, undoing a voter-approved measure that was enacted during the Republican high tide of 1994.

Overriding a veto by Republican Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, the GOP-controlled Legislature took the law off the books and cleared the way for more than 150 county officials and the attorney general to run for re-election this year.

"To me, it seems like it's truly un-American," House Speaker Bruce Newcomb said of term limits. "Ballot access limitations -- or term limits, as some people would call them -- are not in the best interest of the state."

The vote leaves 17 states with term limits on state lawmakers.

The Idaho measure was approved by 60 percent of the voters in 1994, the same year the GOP took power in both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years and its "Contract With America" promoted citizen legislators over "career politicians."

The Idaho Republican Party once supported term limits as a way to end the careers of liberal Democratic members of Congress.

But two years ago, party officials began calling for a repeal, saying that local officials were never supposed to be the target and that term limits were depriving communities of experienced politicians, especially in sparsely populated rural areas that struggle to fill local offices.

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