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Today's Question: How effective are term limits?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | 10:34 a.m. CST; updated 7:07 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When voters adopted term limits for state government by a 75 percent margin in a 1992 constitutional amendment, they hoped to move away from career politicians.

But since then, term limits have come under fire from numerous sources, including Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., who has been in office since 1986. He said at a Republican conference earlier this year that term limits force talented lawmakers out of office.

State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, has also spoken out about the limits' drawbacks, saying during this year's legislative session that term limits increase partisanship and decrease willingness to compromise.

Most recently, an Associated Press analysis showed that many lawmakers start looking for new jobs before they're out of terms, which can lead to costly re-elections.

The early departures of Reps. Dennis Wood, R-Kimberling City, and Ed Wildberger, D-St. Joseph, are the latest in a string of legislators who leave their districts needing a special election.

According to the AP, Missouri has spent about $500,000 in the last eight years on special elections for lawmakers who left office early for other jobs.

Is this tab worth the cost? How effective are term limits in the state legislature?


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