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Missouri to vote on term limits and ‘Cleaner Missouri’: What to know about 2020 ballot measures

In addition to voting on elected officials this November, Missourians will encounter two constitutional amendment measures on the ballot. 

Amendment 1 would impose two-term limits on all of Missouri’s statewide elected officials. Only the governor and treasurer are term-limited in statewide office in Missouri. 

The language included a provision restricting those holding a statewide office as a replacement — such as Gov. Mike Parson, who took over from Gov. Eric Greitens in mid-2018 — to run for that office for only one term if he or she served in it for more than two years.  

The amendment that began as SJR 14, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, was approved by the Senate in 2019 on the final day of session. Luetkemeyer said the amendment would “ensure there is always a fresh perspective in government.”

“Amendment 1 brings consistency to our state’s term limits by ensuring that all statewide elected officials are subject to the same limitations imposed on the governor, treasurer, and legislature,” Luetkemeyer told The Missouri Times. 

Opponents said the measure would limit the amount of work these officials could do. Rep. Brandon Ellington, for instance, argued term limits have “proven to be a hindrance” while on the floor last year

Amendment 3 would make a number of changes to Clean Missouri. The amendment would further ban gifts from paid lobbyists to legislators and their employees, enhance campaign contribution limits, and alter the redistricting process.

The language asks voters if they wish to prohibit lobbyists’ gifts completely. In 2018, Amendment 1, commonly known as “Clean Missouri,” reduced the gift allowance from a lobbyist to an official or staff member to $5.

The constitution would also be amended to decrease the cap on contributions towards state Senate races. Currently, a campaign contribution maximum of $2,500 is enforced. A positive vote on the amendment would decrease that cap by $100, without affecting the $2,000 House limit. The provision would also repeal a prior rule subjecting House and Senate races to inflation. 

Additionally, Amendment 3 would alter the state’s redistricting plan, changing the way Missouri’s districts are drawn yet again.

Opponents to the proposal said it would ignore Missourians’ 2018 vote on Clean Missouri, which put the redistricting plan in the hands of the state demographer. The process would instead go to a set of bipartisan commissions, one for each chamber, appointed by the governor. 

“Voters need to know how politicians are trying to trick them into passing Amendment 3,” Sean Soendker Nicholson, campaign director for the No on 3 effort, said last week. “The amendment only changes lobbyist gift limits by $5, and only changes contribution limits by $100. That’s not reform — that’s a smokescreen to distract voters from the real goal of the plan, which is letting lobbyists and political operatives draw district maps to protect their favorite politicians.” 

“This would give the voters another opportunity to weigh in on this monumental change that could have ramifications for years, if not generations,” Sen. Dan Hegeman, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, said early in the legislative process.