Koster calls legislative term limits a “tragedy” for Missouri

Attorney General Chris Koster said Saturday that legislative term-limits have been “tragedy” and a “disservice” to Missouri.

Speaking at an annual dinner hosted by the Johnson County Democrats, Koster – the Missouri Democratic Party’s 2016 gubernatorial nominee in waiting – used a metaphor that Missouri is like a large corporation, and that its “board of directors” – in this case, the General Assembly – is automatically forced out after gaining years of legislative experience.

“Today we operate under a new rule, which I think is a great disservice to the people of our state, that as soon as people really learn the task at hand we make them leave. We have people who are terming out of office in Jefferson City who came in at the age of 24… terming out at the age of 32. We are throwing them out of office,” he said. “It’s a tragedy that basically as soon as people learn the difference between Medicare and Medicaid and a few more other things about state government they have to go back home.”

Koster added, “hopefully in the future we will change that.”

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, has proposed legislation this year that would allow lawmakers to serve 16 years in the General Assembly, in any proportion they might chose. Currently, under a 1992 constitutional amendment approved by voters, lawmakers are limited to four two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate.

Koster, a former Republican state Senator, has not, himself been termed-out of the General Assembly. He was elected in 2004 and served through 2008, at which point he switched political parties and ran a successful campaign for Attorney General. One of Koster’s likely Republican opponents, Former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, also has not been termed out – she could actually have one more term in the House and two terms in the Senate.

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