Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, says he no longer feels bound by a decade-old promise to serve no more than 12 years in Congress.

That comes just as Hansen prepares to begin his sixth, two-year term next month - which would be his last if he held to a vow made when he first campaigned for the House back in 1980."What people back in Utah have to realize is that it hurts them for Jim Hansen to stay here 12 years and go home as long as people from states like Massachusetts and Georgia stay here forever. All Utah does is lose the seniority that I've built up," Hansen told the Deseret News Monday.

Of course, all committee assignments, chairmanships and even office space is determined according to seniority. And Utah historically has kept its House members for an average of only about three terms, with the record being seven terms.

In comparison, the longest-serving member of the House now, Rep. Jamie Whitten, D-Miss., has been there 50 years. "He told me he only planned to stay for three, but he's still here," Hansen said.

Still, Hansen said he plans to reintroduce a bill to limit House service to 12 years - and he is still vice chairman of the Coalition on Limiting Terms, which has pushed for such term limits for years.

"If it passed, then I would feel obligated to return home with everyone else - and be happy to. But if it doesn't, then I don't feel obligated," Hansen said.

He added that term limitation appears to be an idea that is just starting to catch on, with three states in the last electionchoosing to impose limits on their officials. "These are heady times for those of us who have worked a long time on term limitation," Hansen said.

Hansen's comments will likely surprise many on Capitol Hill. For example, just last week, "Roll Call" - a newspaper on Capitol Hill - listed him among members expected to retire in 1992 because of his earlier promise, which the paper said it expected him to keep "because he is a Mormon."

Hansen's statements appear to widen his future political options. He has said publicly he is considering running for governor in 1992 - which may be enhanced by Gov. Norm Bangerter's decision not to seek re-election.

He has also said he may run for the Senate in 1992 if Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, retires. He has also said, as he now reiterates, that he may stay in the House. And the 58-year-old Hansen, an avid fisherman, has said he may consider retiring.