Sunday, July 23, 2006

Term limits add to power of special interests

The subject of term limits for elected officials is being discussed again in California, a state in which limits were enacted a few years ago with exactly the same results as we have seen in Missouri.
When legislators are limited to eight years, as is the case in this state, they are out the door just as they are beginning to accumulate the expertise they need to be able to properly represent their constituents.
So what we have ended up with is a state in which the major decisions are made, and many of the laws are written by lobbyists and special interest groups. If the people of a district find a man or woman who is doing the job, they can't keep electing that legislator because term limits prevents it.
Where do these people go when their terms run out? The idea behind term limits was that they would go home and another group of legislators would replace them. That is not what has happened. Some move on from political position to another; others, like Gary Burton of Joplin and Gary Marble of Neosho simply become lobbyists or join lobbying organizations. Often their most experienced staff members also enter the lobbying field.
What we end up with are some elected officials who are more interested in securing their financial and political futures than they are in representing the people who voted them into office.
California is looking into the possibility of removing term limits. Missouri would be wise to do the same.

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