Term limits ruling may be appealed

Howard Rosenberg, a Nevada university system regent blocked from seeking another term by the state Supreme Court, said Monday he may challenge the court decision.

"I am exploring the possibility," said Rosenberg, one of 21 public officials blocked from new terms by Friday's high court decision because they've served 12 or more years in office. The court's ruling, however, didn't extend to 13 longtime state legislators.

"I am angry. I am hurt. I just think what's been done is wrong," Rosenberg said, adding, "This business of selectively applying what they call the law is really annoying."

Besides Rosenberg, regent Thalia Dondero and longtime Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury were blocked from holding another term. The ruling also affected several school and town board members around Nevada, and even a mosquito and weed abatement board member.

The veteran legislators who can seek new terms even though they've served 12 years or more include Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas.

The high court said the Nevada Constitution "plainly states" that officials can't serve more than 12 years, under terms of the term limits approved by voters in November 1996.

That voter mandate took effect a few weeks after the elections, when a final vote canvass was completed. Most officials were sworn in after the canvass " but legislators elected that year took office the day after the election. The Supreme Court said the mandate can't apply retroactively to them.

"An election is an election," Rosenberg said. "It isn't an election when you're sworn in or when you take office. All of us were elected at the same time. That's when the polls close."

The Supreme Court's rulings included a unanimous, 14-page decision and a separate, 9-page order dealing with state lawmakers.

The order dealing with lawmakers says the framers of the Nevada Constitution deliberately called for the legislators' terms to begin the day after elections to "prevent any abuse of power" by a governor who might call lawmakers, including some just voted out of office, into a special session immediately after an election.

For Buckley, Raggio and other veterans of legislative service, Friday's rulings mean that the 2008 elections will be their last races for their current positions.

Election officials had to scramble to adjust to the Supreme Court decisions, since they were filed the day before the start of early voting in Nevada. Since ballots were already printed for early voting, no changes in listed candidates could be made. Officials instead posted signs advising voters of the decisions.


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