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Today's Question: Are term limits leading to an increase in partisanship?

Monday, May 18, 2009 | 2:17 p.m. CDT; updated 7:03 p.m. CDT, Monday, May 18, 2009

In 1992, Missouri legislators adopted a constitutional amendment that prevented legislators from serving more than four two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate. But 17 years later, some legislators are blaming the term limits for the increased partisanship during the most recent legislative session.

"There is a greater sense of urgency, I think, to really push forward your agenda and legislation you want or, in the reverse, to really put your foot down and stop bad things from happening because you don't have the luxury of long periods of time here in the legislature like we had before term limits," Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, said.

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said the term limits have not only increased partisanship but also decreased the willingness to compromise.

"In the days before term limits, the more senior members especially were more disinterested in what their parties thought because they were here to be legislators, not Democrats or Republicans,” Kelly said.

Some legislators think a lack of institutional knowledge is also a product of term limits. Ridgeway said the term limits give legislators less time to deeply research certain topics because the don’t have the time.

But there are legislators who say the positives of term limits outweigh the negatives. Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said term limits have resulted in freshmen legislators being treated like any other legislator.

Do you think term limits are causing increased partisanship in the General Assembly? Should they be done away with, lengthened or left alone?


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