Amendment 1 would standardize two-term limits for Missouri’s highest executive offices
By Tyler Schneider
If Missouri voters give it a ‘yes’ vote on Nov. 3, Amendment 1 would limit the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, and attorney general to two terms in office, respectively
The ballot measure would effectively standardize term limits across Missouri’s highest executive offices after two-term limits had previously been established for the governor and state treasurer, beginning in 2019.
Sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R, District 34), who said it will “ensure there is always a fresh perspective in government.” Amendment 1 was approved by the Senate in 2019 on the final day of session.
“The voters have made it clear they emphatically support term limits. This measure will bring consistency to our term limits for all state officials and prevent them from becoming career politicians,” Luetkemeyer said.
Amendment 1 also specifies what is to be done in response to cases where elected or appointed officials, like current Missouri Governor Mike Parson — who ascended to the Governor’s Mansion halfway through Eric Greitens’ term following the latter’s resignation on June 1, 2018 — have already served partial terms. The ballot language for Amendment 1 explains that, because Parson has served at least two years of what would have been a four-year term for Greitens, the former would be allowed just one more term as governor if he is re-elected Nov. 3.
A ‘yes’ vote from 2020 Missouri voters on Amendment 1 would make Missouri the 28th state to establish active two-term lifetime limits for lieutenant governors. Similarly, Missouri would be the 20th state to have enacted these limitations on the office of the secretary of state and the 18th for attorney general.
Missouri became one of eight states with constitutional amendments limiting governors to two terms last year, and is notably just one of only five states with the same limitations in place for state treasurer — that latter of which had been approved by 52 percent of Missouri voters back in 1970.
There is at least one vocal opponent of Amendment 1 in Sen. Ed Emery (R, District 31). “We want people in there who are experienced and know the job and know what they’re doing. I do think that those are a little different categorically and functionally than those top executive positions,” Emery said.
Historically, the Show Me State has approved all four previous ballot measures that have imposed term limits on statewide elected officials.
The most recent and notable of these was in 1992, when 74 percent of voters approved Amendment 13 — which was designed to limit Missouri representatives to two terms in the U.S. Senate, and four terms in the House. This decision was later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton in 1995, when the court ruled that state governments could not enact such limits on members of Congress.
Also from that 1992 ballot was Amendment 12, which established eight year limits for Missouri state legislators in both the House and the Senate, or 16 cumulative years between the two chambers. This decision was later amended in 2002 (via MO Amendment 3), which excluded partial term service of less than one-half of a legislative term by representatives who have been appointed via special election (such as District 36 Rep. Mark Sharp).