WHAT OTHERS SAY: There's no compelling reason to extend term limits

Thursday, December 8, 2011 | 5:31 p.m. CST

A proposal to extend term limits to all statewide elected executive offices in Missouri has been pre-filed for consideration by lawmakers.

We never have been stalwart proponents of term limits, but they now cover Missouri’s entire legislative branch and one-third of elected executive offices.

Although we concede an argument can be made that expanding term limits is a matter of fundamental fairness, we remain unconvinced.

A Senate joint resolution filed by Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, would extend the blanket to all six statewide elected executives. If lawmakers approve, a proposed constitutional amendment would be placed before Missouri voters.

“Missouri has held term limits for the governor and members of the Senate and House for some time now,” Lager said.

“Our founders envisioned a government that was run by citizen volunteers, not professional politicians. These limits ensure that Missouri remains a state run by fresh volunteers to public service, not entitled career politicians.”

Lager’s quote neglected to mention the state treasurer who, like the governor, is limited by Missouri’s Constitution to two four-year terms in office.

Term limits were extended to lawmakers in 1992 when Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment to that effect. State lawmakers may serve eight years — four two-year terms — in the House of Representatives, and eight years — two four-year terms — in the Senate.

Free from those restrictions are four statewide elected offices — lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and auditor.

The conventional justification for limiting only governor and treasurer is that immense power is concentrated in those offices.

The governor obviously is chief executive, and the treasurer oversees placement of lucrative, sought-after state finances in private financial institutions.

Can that rationale be extended to the remaining four offices?

Lager reasons: “Term limits should not apply to only half of our government. Missouri is best served by a system that promotes fresh ideas and encourages participation at all levels of government. Political participation and public service should not be limited to the few, but should be available to all.”

We find that rationale vague and unconvincing.

We maintain voters have the power to limit an incumbent’s term in any election. We dislike proposals that sap a voter’s power to choose and replace it with an arbitrary, automatic limit.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.