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Document: Missouri Amendment 1

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Should there be term limits for Missouri's lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor and attorney general, as there are for the governor or treasurer?

Some argue all statewide elected officials should have term limits, while others say that, because of the nature of the positions, finding and keeping qualified and proficient people to fill them is of greater value to the state.

Voters will decide Nov. 3 whether Missouri expands and limits terms for the four statewide positions.

Amendment 1 would change the state Constitution to extend the two-term restriction that currently applies to the governor and treasurer to other statewide elected officials — lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor and attorney general.

The amendment would also limit those offices to election for one full term, if the office-holder had served more than two years of a term to which some other person was originally elected.

The amendment is on the ballot because the Missouri General Assembly in 2019 passed Senate Joint Resolution 14, sponsored by state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville.

Luetkemeyer has pointed out Missourians support term limits. He also said the measure would help prevent all state officials from becoming career politicians.

"This brings consistency to our term limits," he said. "Under these changes, all statewide elected officials will now be subject to the same eight-year term limits that apply to the governor, treasurer and Legislature."

State Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, who opposes the amendment, said while he supports term limits on the federal level, he's not such big fan of them on the state level.

"The jobs that are being added (in the amendment) are more technical jobs — and administrative," Emery said. "Competency is a more important issue."

People create term limits for a number of reasons, he continued.

As times change, periodic overturn of lawmakers, for example, can be a good idea. The positions listed in the measure are different from other statewide offices, in that change can be more disruptive with them than with lawmakers.

"The other jobs are a little bit more aligned with getting to know the work," Emery said. "Understanding what you're doing. Building a good strong staff. It's difficult on employees too."

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Offices statewide have large, professional staff that remain from administration to administration, Luetkemeyer argued.

"Given this, there is little risk of losing institutional knowledge," Luetkemeyer said. "Term limits ensure there are fresh perspectives brought into statewide offices."

State Sens. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, and Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, both voted in favor of the resolution in 2019, as did state Reps. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City; Rudy Veit, R-Wardsville; and Sara Walsh, R-Ashland.

The amendment requires a simple majority of votes to pass.

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