ARCHIVED  November 1, 1996

Wyoming electorate debates term limits, reapportionment

Wyoming voters will go to the polls Nov. 5 to decide four state constitutional amendments, a voter initiative and the first referendum in state history. But it may seem like deja vu all over again for two issues dealing with state investments and term limits.n Amendment A would allow the Legislature to reapportion legislative districts a year after the decennial federal census, so it would have final census figures available.
n Amendment B would strike archaic language and clarify that “mental incompetence” is the only “mental status” that would deny someone the right to vote.
n Amendment C would allow the Legislature to authorize the investment of some permanent state funds in the stock market, a move that State Treasurer Stan Smith conservatively estimates would increase state revenue by $25 million a year.
A similar version has been on the ballot before, winning voter approval but lacking sufficient votes to pass. (In Wyoming, ballot issues must be approved by a majority of voters voting in the election, not just a majority of those who vote on the particular ballot issue, so not voting on an issue constitutes a “no” vote).
n Amendment D would strengthen the Judicial Supervisory Commission’s authority to discipline or remove judges for misconduct and provides for enforcement of a code of judicial ethics. The independent commission would be expanded and renamed as the Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics.
n Referendum 1, the state’s first ever, would repeal a law passed by the Legislature last year that equalized term limits for state representatives and senators at 12 years for each. The referendum would return the term limit for state representatives to three terms, or six years, as overwhelmingly approved by voters in a term-limits initiative four years ago.
Proponents accuse the Legislature of thwarting the will of the people, while opponents contend the state House and Senate were created as equal bodies, and their members should be allowed equal terms.
n Initiative 1 would direct all state and federal office holders to do everything in their power to enact a federal constitutional amendment for term limits for members of Congress.
It also would direct the Wyoming Legislature to petition Congress to call a federal constitutional convention, ostensibly for a term-limits amendment, and would place the phrase “VIOLATED VOTER INSTRUCTION ON TERM LIMITS” or “DECLINED TO TAKE PLEDGE TO SUPPORT TERM LIMITS” next to candidates’ names on the ballot if they didn’t do everything in their power to champion federal term limits.
The initiative is similar to initiatives being pushed by U.S. Term Limits on the ballots of 14 states this fall, including Colorado. It has generated the hottest opposition, including attacks from groups not necessarily opposed to federal term limits but fearful of a federal constitutional convention and its possible consequences.
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Wyoming voters will go to the polls Nov. 5 to decide four state constitutional amendments, a voter initiative and the first referendum in state history. But it may seem like deja vu all over again for two issues dealing with state investments and term limits.n Amendment A would allow the Legislature to reapportion legislative districts a year after the decennial federal census, so it would have final census figures available.
n Amendment B would strike archaic language and clarify that “mental incompetence” is the only “mental status” that would deny someone the right to vote.
n Amendment C would…

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