Missouri State Capitol

In 1992, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a lifetime limit of eight years in both the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives. Twenty years later, the Center for Ethics in Public Life’s conference “Term Limits: Two Decades of Lessons” will explore in detail the positive and negative effects of the policy on state legislative processes, and participants will develop strategies for the future. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Former Speaker of the Missouri House Steven Tilley will be among the participants debating term limits for state legislators at the inaugural Public Ethics Conference, “Term limits: Two Decades of Lessons.” The conference will be presented on Oct. 6 by the Center for Ethics in Public Life at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

In 1992, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved (by a margin of 75 percent to 25 percent) a lifetime limit of eight years in both the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives. Twenty years later, this conference will explore in detail the positive and negative effects of this policy on state legislative processes, and participants will develop strategies for the future.

“The policy has come to full fruition in the 20 years since its passage,” said former Sen. Wayne Goode, vice chairman of the Curators of the University of Missouri System. “Moving ahead, term limits will be instrumental in shaping the strategy for any significant legislative activity. Therefore, this is the perfect time for an in-depth conversation about the goals of the term limit policy, its effects and its future.”

“Term limits will have an impact on every legislative agenda for the foreseeable future,” said former Rep. Joe Ortwerth, executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council. “By bringing together political practitioners and political observers, as well as participants from both sides of the aisle, and both sides of the issue, the conference should engender a fascinating discussion of this highly consequential policy and how to move forward in light of the new legislative reality it has created.”

This conference brings together current and former Missouri legislators, political scientists, state and local officials, lobbyists, attorneys, advocates and the interested public. Speakers include former Speaker Steven Tilley; Sen. Robin Wright-Jones; Rep. Chris Kelly; former Sen. Franc Flotron, who is now a lobbyist; Paul Jacob, past president of U.S. Term Limits; Greg Upchurch, who served as the chairman of Missourians for Limited Terms; David Valentine, retiring associate director for public service at the Truman School of Public Affairs; Marjorie E. Sarbaugh-Thompson, professor of political science, Wayne State University in Detroit; Thad Kousser, associate professor of political science, University of San Diego; and Linda Claire McDaniel, co-president of the League of Women Voters of St. Louis;.

“Fifteen states have now had term limits for about 20 years,” said Wally Siewert, director of the Center for Ethics in Public Life and discussion moderator at the conference. “This provides a rich and varied data source for the political scientists who study their effects.”

The vision of the Center for Ethics in Public Life is to advance the principles of honest, open government that enables citizens to be informed participants in the democratic process and to promote the value and practice of governance based on the merits of issues, free from corruption, undue influence, favoritism, prejudice or conflict of interest.

The center was created at the state legislative level with a broad mandate to advance the cause of ethics in the body politic of the State of Missouri. Housed at UMSL, it is a collaborative entity intended to bring together, around the issue of ethics in public life, those who study governance and those who practice it. The center’s mandate includes education, research and advocacy on public ethics issues at all levels.

“I was originally involved, along with Sen. Chuck Gross, in creating the center, motivated by the belief that an ethical political process is at the heart of the democratic exercise of governance,” Wayne Goode said.

The Center for Ethics in Public Life will present the conference in cooperation with the Department of Political Science at UMSL and the Public Policy Administration program at UMSL. The conference will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 6 in the Century Rooms at the Millennium Student Center at UMSL. Registration is $25 and includes a continental breakfast, lunch and reception. Attorneys have the opportunity to earn seven MOBAR CLE hours. Visit cepl.umsl.edu or call 314-516-5974 to register.

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Leslie Patterson

Leslie Patterson

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