Voters may be asked to consider term limit proposal

Wednesday, January 9th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma voters may be asked to consider a far-reaching constitutional amendment that would restrict how long elected state, county and municipal officials can stay in office.

Sen. Charles Ford, R-Tulsa, on Tuesday introduced Senate Joint Resolution 29, which would not only impose term limits on legislators, but county commissioners and trial judges, too.

Lawmakers will consider the resolution during the next regular session of the Legislature, which convenes Feb. 4. If passed, it will go on the general election ballot in November.

``If it's good for the Legislature, let's see if people feel it's good for everybody else,'' Ford told the Tulsa World's capitol bureau.

Right now, the governor, who is limited to two consecutive terms, and legislators, who are limited to a total of 12 years, are the only officials whose time in office is restricted.

Voters adopted a constitutional amendment in 1990 that limited legislators' terms. Twenty-four years earlier, voters amended the Constitution to allow two consecutive terms for governor.

If approved, three four-year terms would apply to the offices of lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, labor commissioner, state superintendent, insurance commissioner, auditor and inspector and Corporation Commission members, who now serve six-year terms.

Appointed offices, such as secretary of state, public safety commissioner, health commissioner and the governor's Cabinet would not be affected. School board members also would not be affected.

But mayors and city councilors, county commissioners, sheriffs, county treasurers, clerks, court clerks and assessors would be affected. District court judges, Workers Compensation Court judges and appellate court judges such as those serving on the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and Intermediate Court of Civil Appeals would be limited to 12 years.

If adopted, the term limits would take effect Jan. 1, 2003.

Another provision in the measure would allow the state Constitution to be amended and term limits modified, including those imposed on legislators, without a vote of the people. It would take three-fourths vote of both the House and Senate and the governor's signature.

On the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot impose term limits on members of Congress.

Also on Tuesday, Rep. Dan Webb, R-Oklahoma City, announced that he would file legislation that would give voters the option of extending term limits to all state and local office holders.

Webb said his measure is similar to Ford's but would also extend to school board members.