Letter to the Editor

A response to term limits

State Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, who will term out in '18, recently submitted HJR 52 for consideration in the MO House. If passed, this bill would extend limits for legislators from 8 years in each house to 12.

Her reasoning is that legislators do not have institutional knowledge of the job they have been elected to hold. Although I agree that term limits have had a negative effect by attracting unqualified politicians with incumbents terming out, extended terms may not be the answer. We as voters should demand qualified candidates who do not require years of on-the-job training. As it stands now citizens are paying for years of inaction, as lobbyists guide politicians in their duties.

That being said, we as voters need to be more informed about whom we are electing, and from where their campaign contributions and lobbyist gifts originate. All of this information is readily available online. If the legislature would aggressively tackle Missouri's loose campaign finance and lobbyist gift rules, we could begin ensuring that the work of the people is being done, rather than the work of the lobbyists. This is necessary, even if the current legislators exclude themselves with rules that take effect much later.

People often complain about "career politicians." I have no problem with someone making public service their career, if they're actually serving the public. In order to ensure this, voters need to demand ethics reform, and consider increasing legislator salaries to offer incentive to well-qualified candidates.

SHAWN BERRY, Poplar Bluff, Missouri