Missouri's term limits aren't broke, don't need fixing

In 1992, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved term limits for state legislators. Any member of the Missouri House or Senate elected in or after 1994 is limited to eight years in either chamber, which means it is possible for a legislator to serve eight years in the House and another eight years in the Senate. In the years since term limits went into effect, there have been discussions from time to time about changing the term limits or eliminating them.

The limits approved by voters 16 years ago appear to be having the desired effect. Turnover in the legislative ranks brings fresh ideas and viewpoints to the legislature, and the fiefdoms created by longtime legislators have been eliminated.

Critics of term limits, including U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, say they should be eliminated and let voters decide how long to keep legislators in office. This year, state Rep. Gayle Kingery of Poplar Bluff has proposed a constitutional amendment that would replace the current limits with a limit of 16 years total in either chamber of the legislature.

Efforts to change the limits have, over the years, failed to get much attention. In part, that's because most Missourians are happy with term limits. So why change the limits? Unless there is a clear defect in term limits that is having a serious negative effect on the state's fortunes, let's leave the term limits alone.