Or, if you prefer, the “Enhance the Churning Possibilities for the Right Wingnut Campaign Consultant Industrial Complex as They Get Millionaires and Billionaires to Drop Beaucoup Bucks on Statewide Campaigns for Right Wingnut Candidates Act” (Yeah, we know, it’s a resolution which, if approved by the voters, would change the Missouri Constitution).
FIRST REGULAR SESSION
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 19 [pdf]
97TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY SENATOR LAGER.
Read 1st time February 11, 2013, and ordered printed.
TERRY L. SPIELER, Secretary.
Submitting to the qualified voters of Missouri, an amendment repealing section 17 of article IV of the Constitution of Missouri, and adopting one new section in lieu thereof relating to term limits for statewide elected officials.
Be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring therein:
That at the next general election to be held in the state of Missouri, on Tuesday next following the first Monday in November, 2014, or at a special election to be called by the governor for that purpose, there is hereby submitted to the qualified voters of this state, for adoption or rejection, the following amendment to article IV of the Constitution of the state of Missouri:
Section A. Section 17, article IV, Constitution of Missouri, is repealed and one new section adopted in lieu thereof, to be known as section 17, to read as follows:
Section 17. The governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer and attorney general shall be elected at the presidential elections for terms of four years each. The state auditor shall be elected for a term of two years at the general election in the year 1948, and his successors shall be elected for terms of four years. No person shall be elected governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor, or treasurer more than twice, and no person who has held the office of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor, or treasurer, or acted as governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor, or treasurer, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected to the office of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor, or treasurer shall be elected to the office of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor, or treasurer more than once. The heads of all the executive departments shall be appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the senate. All appointive officers may be removed by the governor and shall possess the qualifications required by this constitution or by law.
[emphasis in original]
At Governor Holden’s monthly Pizza and Politics forum Wednesday evening, Ed Martin, the Republican challenging Russ Carnahan next year, and Chris Kelly, a Democratic representative who was elected in Columbia just last year, faced off on the question of term limits.
Kelly spoke first. Because he had previously served in the legislature for twelve years in the eighties and early nineties, he had the historical knowledge to appreciate how the House differs from what it used to be. His main argument was that term limits destroy necessary institutional memory and depth of knowledge. Bitter partisanship fills the gap left by departing long term legislators.
Kelly pointed out that currently, each party caucuses with its members twice a week, and they use those occasions to “throw each other partisan red meat” and “inflame sectarian passion.” In the past, he says, representatives had served with each other sometimes for decades. It was harder to characterize someone as a mindless Republican shill if you had been to his daughter’s wedding.
And people voted their own conscience instead of lock stepping with their party.
“In the bad ole days before we had term limits, we caucused twice a session because no one in their right mind would go to the caucus and listen to their political party tell them how to vote.” Kelly maintained that if the party had tried to tell them how to vote, legislative giants like John Schneider and Wayne Goode would have said something like “‘Go to hell. I know what I’m supposed to do. I’ve been on this issue for many, many years. I understand the issue very well. I’ve spent my entire adult life studying it, and I’m gonna decide how I’m going to vote based on that store of knowledge.'”
The video clip begins with Kelly describing how much less today’s legislators know:
I post his pledge for the record. But I don’t expect it to be put to the test with a win next year.
At least that’s a conclusion from the Springfield N-L which glances at the possible cost of the upcoming Wildberger and Wood special elections.
Although while the article mentions Louis Ford resigning to give his son an upper-hand, it doesn’t mention how much it cost to hold a special election where only 330 people voted.
Term Limits have some apparent flaws. The main pro of term limits from my point of view involves Matt Bartle and Cynthia Davis not being in the state government in 2011. Although i’d imagine that the number of good legislators forced out by term limits has to be far longer than the list of controversial/lousy legislators forced out by term limits.
Term limits, as they are presently mandated, do as much harm as good. Certainly, the motivation for enacting them was understandable: citizens were fed up with a system where incumbents could scarcely be blasted out of office with anything short of an IED. But the eight-year term limit solution produced, at best, a situation where somewhat experienced lawmakers lead rank beginners through a complex process.
Uh-oh. Joint efforts of any kind do best with a mixture of newcomers with fresh ideas and people who’ve been around the block often enough to predict where the bumps and snarls will occur. Legislatures are no different. Let me invite any of our current legislators who read this posting–or anyone else, for that matter–to provide examples of problems that could have been avoided in recent sessions if a few old timers had been around.
And aside from creating glitches that should have been foreseen, the whole impermanency thing begets another problem: it contributes to the partisan fissures that cripple our state government. People who know what the lege used to be like say that reps could disagree on the floor and then go out for a brew together in the evening. Sure, I understand that part of the reason that no longer happens is the essential meanness of so many Republicans now. But part of the reason must also be that there’s little incentive to bridge the gaps when either you or the people you’re fighting with will be gone in a year or two.
Last spring, Senator Jolie Justus of Kansas City tried to overcome some of the sour aftermath of on floor bickering by arranging a weekly happy hour. That was a good idea, and perhaps she’ll follow through on it this January. It might help.
The problems that arise during legislative sessions because of term limits are only half the difficulty. The other half is what happens when people get termed out. The race in the fifth senatorial district is a perfect example: all four Democratic reps in Maida Coleman’s senatorial district (Robin Wright Jones, Rodney Coleman, Connie Johnson, and Tom Villa) are termed out–but not ready to leave state government. Two have announced for Coleman’s seat (she, too, is termed out), and the other two still might. It’s a mess.
Some legislators solve the termed out dilemma by turning to lobbying. Carl Bearden is the latest example. It’s good to let Dems have a shot at that yahoo’s seat, but when the short term limits were created, perhaps no one foresaw the unintended consequence that termed out reps would swell the ranks of lobbying leeches.
Meanwhile, in many districts, one or both parties are having trouble building farm teams good enough to keep supplying strong candidates to fill the frequent openings. Let’s see: how long has Albert Pujols been in the majors now–five years or six? I’d hate to see him shoved out of the sport in 2009. If baseball had term limits, it would hurt the quality of play. Few rookies can arrive from the minors and make an immediate impact on a team. Winning teams need a combination of seasoned veterans and up and comers.
The answer isn’t deep sixing term limits but lengthening the time allowed in office. And, in fact, the rumor is that a Republican, no less, plans to bring up the possibility this session of changing the limit for reps from eight years to eighteen. I’d cheer for that.
Connie Johnson, who is still debating whether to throw her hat in the Fifth Senatorial ring, has been trying, literally since the day after the 2006 election, to get herself, Robin Wright Jones, and Rodney Hubbard together to discuss how they could agree on one of them to run. (If you need the background on why that would be necessary, see my last posting.) The three of them met for breakfast the day after the election to discuss that question. Obviously, they did not resolve it.
What she wants is some way for all of them to come out a winner, and what she means by that is that they would agree on which one of them would run, but they would also agree on something those who dropped out could expect. Johnson cited the example last year of Barbara Fraser and Jake Zimmerman, who both wanted to run for a seat on the County Council. Fraser was term limited out of the House, so someone talked Zimmerman into running for her House seat instead. He’s now a rep and she’s a Council member. That’s what Johnson means by everyone being a winner.
That particular solution wouldn’t work in the Fifth District, but if the person chosen to run were to win the race, he or she could use the appointive powers of the office to put the other two on whatever commission or board interested them.
But there was a glitch: All three of them were more interested in appointing the other two than in staying out of the race.
What they needed was a political intervention, and at one time or another each of them has tried to get that process jump started. So far they’ve had no success. Johnson said that she had hoped Representative Clay would step forward, but he didn’t, and eventually he endorsed Hubbard. The outgoing senator, Maida Coleman, could have taken the reins, but she didn’t, and eventually she endorsed Wright Jones.
That leaves John Temporiti, the state Democratic party chairman–who, as a matter of fact has been doing exactly that kind of duty in a number of other races. He’s had some success, but it can be a thorny role to play. So far, for example, all three Attorney General candidates stand firm about their qualifications, chances of success, and intention to run. Temporiti has not announced that he plans to mediate in the fifth senatorial race, but he would be the logical one to do it.
Meanwhile, Johnson and Villa are waiting about making a decision. Johnson points out that if there’s no intervention, she might as well join the race. There probably aren’t enough African-American voters in the primary to support two black candidates without handing the race to a white candidate, so she figures she wouldn’t be making the situation any worse.
The dilemma candidates face in this district is a direct result of term limits. It used to be that a person in the legislature moved on when there was an opening elsewhere or when he was ready to leave politics. Now, four representatives in one senatorial district will have to leave in the same year. If they love politics and want to stay in that arena, their options are severely limited.
And there’s one more kink created by this crowded primary. If Tom Villa joins the race and wins, that would be likely to affect the African-American turnout in the general election. Many will figure, he’s not our man, and he’s probably going to beat any Republican opponent anyway. That attitude is all well and good except that statewide, our party is going to need every Dem it can muster in order to squeak by in the gubernatorial race.
( – promoted by hotflash)
“Cooperate with Republicans?! I’d sooner …..”
Maida Coleman, senate minority leader, knows how bitter some of the Democrats are about the way they were treated last spring. Whenever they felt duty bound to filibuster something truly horrific, like MOSTEALA, the Republicans used a rare tactic called Moving the Previous Question (PQ) to end debate. What was used only seven times in thirty years (from 1970-2005) was used three time last spring. Democrats are … well, they’re pissed off. Senate minority floor leader, Maida Coleman puts it more delicately:
“Based on conversations, I already know that some Democratic legislators are still feeling what occurred during the regular session,” Ms. Coleman told the News-Press. “They’re still concerned and disappointed about the Republican leadership’s way of conducting business.”
But then gets earthier:
“My hope is … we’ll get out without too much blood being let.”
Charlie Shields, senate majority leader, sounding almost apologetic, offered his explanation for the frequent use of the PQ last spring:
“Clearly there have been more PQs (previous questions) than in recent years, which I think is directly a function of term limits,” Mr. Shields said, noting a third of the current senators are in their final terms. “That creates some problems.”
He said he believed strong relationships between legislators during pre-term-limit days prevented the abuse of both political tactics.
If not being on friendly terms is the culprit, freshman senator Jolie Justus says some of the senators have been working on that and describes how a group of them last spring revived the tradition of hitting a local watering hole on Thursday evenings for a no politics, just socializing good time. They had crowds of 30-50.
Maybe such abundant good cheer
Will kill the PQ habit next year?
Larry Handlin has a different explanation about PQ. He wrote:
Really, the difference in the Lege now and then is that there aren’t a bunch of conservative Democrats that operated in the middle of the parties, and so the partisan divide is much larger, meaning use PQ is about the only way to get things through the Senate that are a problem.
Are there lots of grains of truth in that idea? You tell me.
As long as we’re speculating, I’ll offer another possibility. Republicans aren’t in the habit of controlling the reins of government, and when, every few decades, they get the bit between their teeth, they just don’t turn out to be nice people. In a recent posting about Rove’s departure, I mentioned that FDR only mentioned the Democratic party three times in his entire 1936 election campaign. Despite having large Democratic majorities, he always governed in a bipartisan fashion. Compare that with Rove’s divisive strategy of stomping on Democrats at every turn.
Maybe the current crop of Republicans is just worse than its predecessors. And maybe I wouldn’t be so harsh on them if I had been tagging along to the karaoke bars on Thursday nights in Jeff City.