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News In Brief 

by Inlander Staff

Time Out -- POST FALLS, Idaho -- A small group of political activists has filed a lawsuit in Ada County District Court seeking to reinstate term limits for elected officials in Idaho. The suit asks the court to declare the legislature's February term limits repeal unconstitutional.

"It is essentially a lawsuit in defense of the Constitution," says Don Morgan, a Post Falls stockbroker and chairman of Citizens for Term Limits.

Morgan is one of four plaintiffs in the suit, along with Richard Easterly, also of Kootenai County, Boise Democratic party activist A. K. Lienhart-Minnick and the group U.S. Term Limits. The lawsuit makes five arguments, says Morgan, including that the legislature had no power to repeal the term limits law, that legislators made an illegal amendment of the constitution with their repeal and that they had a conflict of interest.

"This was their paycheck they were voting on," says Morgan.

Defending the state will be the Attorney General Al Lance's office.

"The office has not yet answered the complaint, but we do not believe the case has merit," says AG spokesman Bob Cooper.

No hearing date has been set in the matter. The next step is likely for the Attorney General's Office to file an official response along with a motion to dismiss the case, says Cooper.

Idaho voters approved a term limits initiative in 1994 for all levels of elected officials, but federal limits were later found unconstitutional. Then, in 2000, a number of state politicians appealed the term limits. Idaho's Supreme Court heard the case in December and ruled that term limits are constitutional, according to court records. Suffrage rights are broad, the justices wrote, but "it does not include the right to hold public office."

Health Care For All? -- SPOKANE -- The Health Care 2000 initiative -- which sought to establish state-wide health care -- never made the ballot back in 2000 when it was first launched, yet the campaign kept going.

Now, Health Care 2000 (as it's still called) has filed an initiative with the legislature, and the group has until Dec. 25 to collect 250,000 signatures.

"If we are successful in collecting all the signatures, then the initiative becomes a bill," says Dr. Stuart Bramhall, a physician and the president of Health Care 2000. "The legislature either passes it as is, or it goes on the ballot next year."

Either way, the passage of this initiative is not the same as instituting universal health care in Washington -- but it is a step in that direction.

"This initiative would create a commission and give that commission two years to come up with a unified single-payer health care proposal," says Bramhall. "The commission would hold hearings across the state, talk to health care providers and clients and find out how are people going to be affected."

Bramhall says having a single-payer system does not necessarily mean that the state has to pay for everyone.

"You could do it as a regulated utility, where everyone pays into the same fund. Tacking more people onto Medicare, as we are doing right now, is not going to work in the long run," says Bramhall. "It's bankrupting the doctors and the pharmacies. The legislature is essentially letting health care providers pay for health care reform." She adds that the money people spend on health care could be managed a lot better -- and benefit more people -- if insurance companies weren't making a profit as middlemen.

Share the Land -- SPOKANE -- The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is trying to form a Lands Advisory Committee, which will assist the department on land management issues.

Fish and Wildlife manages more than 800,000 acres across the state, and as recreational uses and outdoor trends shift, the need to manage public land for everyone's enjoyment has become more and more pressing.

"The commission will be looking at everything. For example, how do you manage for competing interests?" says Tim Waters, WDFW public affairs director. "On property where there is a lot of hunting and at the same time some of what we call non-consumption activity, like bird watching or rock climbing, how do you weigh both interest groups and manage both?"

Interested citizens should submit a letter to WDFW.

"Actually, most of the land we manage is east of the mountains," says Waters, from WDFW's Olympia office. "We are hoping people from all over the state will be interested in helping us."

Submit letters to WDFW director Jeff Koenings, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091. Or e-mail: [email protected]
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