Utahns want term limitations placed on their governor, federal congressmen, state legislators, even their county commissioners, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.

Merrill Cook and his Independent Party are going to start a citizen initiative petition drive soon on limiting terms. Cook will meet with his party's central committee at 1:30 p.m. today in his home. At that meeting, Cook says, party officials will decide if the initiative petition drive will aim for a 1992 or 1994 vote of the people.Early next week, Attorney General Paul Van Dam should release an opinion on whether term limitations can be placed on state officers through statute, or whether the Utah Constitution must be changed.

State law can be created via a citizens' initiative. However, only the Legislature can adopt a constitutional amendment, which must then be approved by citizens in a general election ballot. Thus, one can't change the Utah Constitution through a citizens' petition.

In a recent survey, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that 64 percent of Utahns want to limit the governor's service to two four-year terms. Only former Gov. Calvin Rampton stayed longer than that, serving three four-year terms.

Fifty-eight percent of Utahns want to limit a state senator's term to two four-year terms. A number of state senators have served 12 or 18 years, with one senator having served more than 30 years.

And 48 percent of Utahns want to limit a state representative's term to two two-year terms. Some representatives have served 12 to 18 years.

Fifty-four percent also favor limiting the terms of county commissioners to two four-year terms.

Currently, there are no term limitations for governor, Utah legislators, county commissioners or U.S. senators or representatives.

Lt. Gov. W. Val Oveson, who is in charge of Utah elections, says it's generally considered unconstitutional for a state law to limit the terms of U.S. congressmen - only a federal law or U.S. constitutional amendment can do that.

Even so, Colorado voters last November approved a state law placing term limitations on their U.S. senators and representatives.

Jones found that given the opportunity, 48 percent of Utahns want to limit the term of U.S. congressmen from Utah to two two-year terms. Also, 54 percent of Utahns want to limit U.S. senators' terms to two six-year terms and 31 percent want to limit U.S. senators' terms to just one six-year term.



There is dicussion about limiting the length of time various public officials can hold office. In your opinion, should the terms of the following offices be limited and if so, what should the limit be?

U.S. Congress

Yes 63%

No 32%

Don't know 5%

How many 2-year terms?

One 18%

Two 48%

Three 14%

Four 12%

Five 1%

Six 5%

Seven or More 1%

Few Number of Years than current term 1%

Don't know 1%

U.S. Senate

Yes 65%

No 29%

Don't know 5%

How many 6-year terms?

One 31%

Two 54%

Three 9%

Four 3%

Five 1%

Six 0%

Seven or more 0%

Fewer Number of Years Than current term 1%

Don't know 2%


Yes 66%

No 30%

Don't know 5%

How many 4-year terms?

One 27%

Two 64%

Three 5%

Four 1%

Five 0%

Six 0%

Seven or more 0%

Fewer number of years than current term 3%

Don't know 1%

Deseret News graphic