COLUMBIA — The Columbia Chamber of Commerce unveiled its six legislative priories for 2010, emphasizing job creation, infrastructure and higher education funding.
One idea generated more reaction than others at Thursday's legislative reception: the lengthening of representatives' terms in the General Assembly.
The proposal was met with a hoot, laughter and mild applause. It would expand the terms of state representatives from two to four years and extend term limits to 16 years.
Byron Hill, chairman of the chamber's board of directors, said that short terms hamper legislators and that money is wasted on the current, unnecessarily frequent elections.
"In the past eight years, about half a million dollars has been wasted on replacement elections," he said. He also noted that Missouri is one of 15 states with legislative term limits.
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said he is in favor abolishing term limits and also backs the rest of the agenda.
"We just need to use the resources we've got," he said while addressing the room.
Five other priorities, which were approved by the board of directors, were announced:
- Funding the MU 2010 fiscal year core budget of $451 million
- Supporting the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act
- Continuing to support the bill passed by the House of Representatives last year to issue bonds to invest in higher education capital projects
- Continuing funding for Interstate 70 and Highway 63
- Supporting the Grow Me State Initiative
Alice Leeper, the chamber's co-chairwoman of governmental affairs, said the goal of the agenda was to emphasize what is important to Columbia.
"The bulk of the legislation focused on support of funding the university because it's such a large part of our local economy," she said.
State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, spoke positively about working to achieve the legislative goals.
"I always think back to what Norm Stewart used to say about basketball," he said. "Although you might not always win, you have to put yourself in a position where winning is possible."