A March 2012 poll conducted by Pulse Opinion Research noted that 70 percent of likely Missouri voters opposed doubling state legislative tenure, with 54 percent strongly opposed.
Tell me then why legislation is moving through the Missouri legislature to stretch the maximum tenure of elected officials in Jefferson City. HJR 41 would double the amount of years permitted to serve under the Missouri state constitution from eight to sixteen in either chamber.
This bill has already passed the Missouri House of Representatives, but I will fight, even filibuster if needed, to keep this proposal from passing in the Senate. Some of my colleagues are hoping this proposal to gut term limits as we currently know them will be placed on the calendar for a vote before we adjourn on May 18.
Term limits are a valuable and pertinent part of the election and governing system. Having the honor to be elected and serve is not about job security, it is about serving those you represent and upholding the trust placed in you by your constituents. As we have seen in the U.S. Congress, whose members do not have term limits, the longer they sit in the House or Senate chambers the less productive they become and the more harm they do. This is not what we need or want in Missouri.
As proof of this point, HJR 41 started out as an effort to increase tenure in a chamber from eight to twelve years. Now that it has already increased to sixteen years, voters can see the kind of unhealthy power grab desired by those they have elected. After all, it is not the voters who asked for this increased tenure.
In 1992, voters passed term limits by a 75 percent margin of the vote. The limit took effect in 2002 and public opinion has not changed since then. We see that clearly from the Pulse Opinion Research poll taken earlier this year. One other important question asked on the poll was if an elected official voted to increase their length of service, would you, as a voter, still support them? A resounding 64 percent said that a Senator or Representative who votes for such a ballot measure is less likely to garner their vote.
This proposed extension of term limits is a waste of time for both chambers and for voters. Missourians have already responded with disapproval for this corrupt form of tenure from their elected officials. Though they may claim otherwise, those pushing for this extension are going against the will of those who elected them.
I do not take the threat of filibustering legislation lightly, but when it comes to opposing changing the constitution in a way that is overwhelmingly opposed by the people in order to extend politicians’ terms in office I will exercise this prerogative if need be. Let's hope it does not come to that.