Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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December 29, 2010

Buck wants restrictions lifted on judges’ ages

Buck seeks to limit annexation waivers.

Unless there is a change in state law, Howard Superior Court 4 Judge George Hopkins will be ineligible to run for re-election in 2012.

Currently, state law prohibits a Superior Court judge from taking the oath of office if he or she is over the age of 70. There is no such restriction on Circuit Court judges.

Hopkins said he will be older than 70 in 2012.

Sen. Jim Buck, R-21st District, intends to introduce legislation that will eliminate the restriction on Superior Court judges.

“The legislation will make it the same as for the Circuit Court,” Buck said. “There already is a problem getting people to run for judge. Taxpayers have spent a lot of money on the training and expertise of the judges.”

“No one knows how that came about,” he said.

The legislation would make the rules the same for all judges.

“I would run again if the law is changed,” Hopkins said.

Buck also plans to reintroduce legislation that will place a 10-year limit on annexation waivers.

This will be the third time he is introducing the legislation, which would limit future waivers to 10 years.

Earlier this month, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled a remonstrance against Kokomo’s planned West Side annexation cannot proceed.

The waivers — each one essentially a promise by a property owner not to fight annexation — were collected in Kokomo in exchange for the providing of sewer service.

“This would get a handle on the waiver limit,” Buck said of the legislation. “If the property isn’t annexed without 10 years, the waiver goes away.”

Buck said the legislation is a question of fairness when a waiver is signed and annexation doesn’t take place. He said many people who purchased property were not aware of the waiver on the property.

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