The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

February 8, 2012

Our View: A better way of limit terms

A Missouri House committee on Tuesday endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow lawmakers to serve 16 years in the state Legislature, either the House or the Senate.

Add our endorsement to that proposal as well.

Currently, lawmakers are limited to eight years in the House and eight years in the Senate. Twenty years ago, voters passed another constitutional amendment sending a strong message they thought there should be some type of limit on the number of years a Missouri legislator can stay in office.

That decision has had its pros and cons. One of the most evident problems is the lack of experienced leadership. We saw that in action — or inaction — during the 2011 special session where no one seemed able to pull lawmakers together and pass the jobs initiatives. The special session ended as a waste of taxpayer money.

This new 16-year proposal still presents the kind of limits the voters say they wanted, but it would allow for leaders to emerge within either side of the chamber and stay there for the extent of their legislative career if they are re-elected.

As it is now, those who want to remain active in the Legislature usually leave the House and run for Senate.

The proposal needs legislative approval in order to be placed on the November ballot.

We think we’ve learned a thing or two over the last 20 years about some of the problems with term limits.

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