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State Court Rejects Term-Limit Law

January 9, 1998

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ Washington state’s highest court rejected term limits as unconstitutional Thursday, much to the relief of the governor and lawmakers who insist that the ballot box is the best place to end political careers.

``The wisdom of term limits is ultimately a policy decision for the voters of this state through the process for constitutional amendment,″ Justice Phil Talmadge wrote for the 6-2 majority.

Fifty-two percent of the voters in 1992 approved an initiative imposing limits of three two-year terms for the state House and two four-year terms for the Senate, governor and lieutenant governor. Provisions to limit terms in the U.S. Congress have already been rejected by federal courts.

``If citizens want change they can still vote officials out of office,″ Democratic Gov. Gary Locke said in a prepared statement.

Supporters of term-limits said an appeal of Thursday’s decision was likely.

``Six people overturn the will of more than a million people. Can you believe it?″ said Sherry Bockwinkel, who ran the initiative’s campaign.

Term-limit foes said they were confident Thursday’s ruling would withstand challenges in federal court.

More than 30 officials would have been affected by the law _ including the governor, the lieutenant governor, the House speaker and most of the House committee leaders.

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