Legislators debate term limits
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Legislators debate term limits

Date: September 19, 2006
By: Meghan Maskery
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: Bag pipes often are used to set the tone for a somber occasion.  They were used in Missouri this month -- just after the legislature's veto session.  The occasion, was a retirement and remembrance ceremony marked by the departure of the legislature's longest serving current member.
OutCue: SOC

Actuality:  BAGPIPE.WAV
Run Time: 00:28
Description: Sound of bagpipes playing at the Senate retiree ceremony - fade in and out

 
In the Senate chamber, with more than a few sad faces and cracking voices, legislators paid tribute to their departing colleagues.
 
At the top of the list was the legislature's senior member, St. Louis City's Pat Dougherty.  After 28 years in the General Assembly, he's forced out by term limits.
 
Until the constitutional term limit is changed, Missouri lawmakers will probably never again say goodbye to a colleague with more than a quarter century of experience. That's because the law prevents a Missourian from serving more than eight years in the House and eight years in the Senate -- with an exception for partial terms. 
 
Dougherty says the law ought to be changed:
 

Actuality:  PDTERM.WAV
Run Time: 00:19
Description: Dougherty says term limits don't allow legislators to get to know one another.
  
 
Missouri voters passed the constitutional amendment more than a decade ago.
 
The law has already driven out most Missouri lawmakers who were in office before the limits were enacted. 
 
But Dougherty stayed in the House after his 1978 election, and he was still there when term limits were enacted by voters. He was then able to serve all eight years allowed in the House and six years in the Senate. 
 
While Dougherty calls the law one of the worst things that's happened to the state, another term-limit victim disagrees.

David Klindt is a Republican from rural northern Missouri. His legislative career spans five years in the House followed by five years in the Senate.

Klindt says a lack of institutional memory can occasionally muddy the lawmaking process, but he says voters have reasons for wanting term limits. 

Actuality:  KLINDT2.WAV
Run Time: 00:26
Description: Klindt says it's up to the voters, not the politicians to determine whether term limits benefit the state.

While supporting term limits, the departing senator acknowledges being frustrated about remaining legislative goals he would like to achieve.

The Bethany Republican suggests that the term limits be extended, or restricted to leadership posts. I'm Meghan Maskery reporting from Jefferson City.