Missouri lawmakers are considering a proposal to place term limits on the state’s only four elected positions which currently don’t have any – Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and Auditor .
The measure would bring them into alignment with the governor, the treasurer and all house and senate seats. Enforcing term limits was one of Republican Governor Eric Greitens key campaign pledges.
GOP Senator Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit says he filed the legislation, in part, to assist the governor with his platform.
“I think the governor ran an election on term limits for all statewide (offices)” said Kraus. “And so this is an effort to support the governor. And overwhelmingly everyone I’ve talked to, and (I’ve) seen polls, and overwhelmingly Missourians are supportive of term limits.”
During a hearing before the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee, Kraus was quizzed by Republican Senator Bob Dixon of Springfield on whether term limits have accomplished the goals voters intended when they approved a constitutional amendment to put them in place.
Kraus responded that his proposal doesn’t address the worthiness of term limits, but simply sets a uniform cap for all elected officials.
“Currently, we have a few statewide (offices) that aren’t subject to term limits. So I believe this is the right thing to do. If you want to have an overall term limit debate, that’s a different story. But I think that we should not treat certain statewides with term limits, and certain other statewides without term limits.”
Missouri voters passed term limits by a 75 percent margin when they approved Amendment 12 in 1992. The actual restriction took affect with the November 1994 election. Voters further amended the state constitution again when they voted in 2002 to exclude partial terms served by state representatives and senators from the term limit regulations.
Currently, state representatives can serve no more than four, two year terms while state senators are limited to two, four year terms. Individuals are allowed to combine the caps in both chambers and serve a maximum of 16 years in the legislature.
During the committee hearing, Senate Democrat Jason Holsman of Kansas City said the current limits are flawed because they prevent lawmakers from acquiring the necessary knowledge to be effective.
“It’s not so much that we should have a limit, but rather that eight years is too short or too long” said Holsman. “In my estimation of having served in both chambers, I think eight years is too short.”
Holsman is sponsoring a proposal that has yet to receive a hearing which doubles the term limits for both the house and senate to 16 years, with a combined maximum service of 32 years in both chambers.
The measure Kraus in sponsoring places the same caps on the four seats that currently have no limit – Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and Auditor – that are currently imposed on the governor and state treasurer. Those seats are limited to two, four-year terms.
If the legislature passes the measure, voter will decide in November whether it becomes law. Kraus’ proposal is identical to a measure in the House which is sponsored by Democrat Kip Kendrick of Columbia.