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Lawmakers want voters to reconsider on term limits.

April 07, 1999
By: Clayton Bellamy
State Capital Bureau
Links: HJR 30

JEFFERSON CITY - Just in case you were confused at the ballot box in 1992, some lawmakers want you to reconsider your term limit vote.

The House Elections Committee passed a proposed constitutional amendment Wednesday that would repeal term limits. Missourians overwhelmingly voted them into the constitution nearly seven years ago.

Any change in the voter-approved term limits would require statewide voter approval.

"A lot of people thought they were voting for term limits on Congress not the state legislature," said sponsor Rep. O. L. Shelton, D-St. Louis. "They were confused."

Committee Chairman Rita Mays, D-St. Louis, agreed that voters were confused. She said the public was misinformed about the need for term limits.

"People don't realize that there is a lot of turnover in the House without term limits," she said.

Shelton said that comments from his constituents prompted him to sponsor the measure, which if passed could land on the ballot this November.

Five Republican members of the committee voted against the proposal. Rep. Matt Blunt, Springfield, was one of them.

"The people knew exactly what they were doing when they voted term limits in," he said. No one in his district had expressed any displeasure with term limits, he said.

Blunt added that many legislators have a false impression of how term limits will affect the legislative process. "Some members think the legislature can't go on without those members who have been here 25 years," he said.

Rep. Ted Farnen, D-Mexico, is opposed to term limits. However, he abstained from voting on the proposal.

"I think we need to allow term limits to go into affect for a while, to see how they work, before we try to get rid of them," he said.

The proposed amendment now awaits debate in the full House, but there is some doubt as to whether the issue will ever reach the voters.

Farnen said it might be too close to the end of the session for the measure to make it through all the necessary steps.