The Missouri State Constitution is going to be revised and portions of it maybe rewritten. I am one of the members of the Commission that have been assigned to take on this task. The Legislative, Executive, and the Judicial branches of government are going to be overlooked and some procedures and policies may even be rewritten. In the following report that I am about to give, I will be addressing some core issues, that should be considered for change and also some issues that should remain the same and why, in the rewriting process of the Constitution.
I will first be speaking about the Legislative department and will cover both the House of Representatives and also the Senate. In the House the term for a representative is now set at two years and that individual can serve up to a maximum of eight years in that chamber. In the Senate the term for an individual is a four-year term and the maximum they can serve is eight years also for a combined total of sixteen years in both chambers. The terms and limits for both chambers should remain the same due to the fact that one member cannot gain too much influence in their position. Both terms are the same as the national level and these terms have always worked. Because these representatives are on the state level they should not be allowed to serve any more than eight years in each chamber with a total of Sixteen in both chambers. This maximum service of sixteen is ideal so no one member can gain too much influence in their position. They are either forced to go elsewhere or to run for the national level and service our state to further their career.
As for qualifications, a House member is to be at least 24 years of age, have been a registered voter for two years, and a resident of the state for one year. Having the age limit set at 24 is ideal because it is the lowest adult age for an individual to start a brilliant career. The qualification for being a registered voter for two years should be raised to three because someone of this stature should have just a bit more of experience in elections and voting. As for being a resident for, the standard should be raised from one year to three years because one should have more background in they state he is serving than just one year. The people should feel like he or she is more involved in the state for more than just one year; someone could just move here for a year from another state just to get this position and not really have the longtime residents’ best interests at heart. All the qualifications for the Senate should be the same as the House except for the age, which should stay at 30 because this position is a little more prestigious, and should have a higher age limit.
Moving on to whether the Legislature should be kept as bicameral or changed to a unicameral legislature. The Legislature should be kept bicameral because having two houses is the most efficient way for the Legislature to work. By having two houses, we spread the power and duties and if a certain party rules one chamber, they might be able to do as they please with laws and bills. This duel-chambered policy is ideal for a system of checks and balances within the Legislative department.
The House and the Senate meet in early January until mid May each year for their session. While they are in session, each member receives ten dollars a day on top of the annual salary of $29,080.20. The session length is satisfactory enough do discuss what needs to be discussed for the state at that time. As for the salary of the members of congress, many of the representatives have other jobs besides being a representative for their area. After all, they do not even meet for a full half-year. Therefore, their salaries should remain the same.
The governor and five SEO’s head up the Executive department. The governor is required to be 30 years of age, been a citizen for fifteen years, and have been a resident of the state for a total of ten years that do not have to be consecutive. The qualifications of the governor should be kept where they are because they only seem logical to have a governor’s age at 30 because that is about mid life and because this is a prestigious position the residency and the citizenship should be greatly increased from that of a senator. The governor’s duties are commander in chief of the National Guard just as the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces for the United States. His duties are just as the President’s are for the country, he appoints his own staff, department heads, and can appoint certain judges. However; the governor cannot introduce a bill, this should be changed so that if the governor does have an idea for a bill, he can propose it to one of the chambers and they can take it from there, regardless, the bill still has to go through the same channels of both houses in becoming a bill.
In addition to the governor, he has five other elected officials that head the state with him, which are: the Lt. Governor, State Auditor, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the State Treasurer. All five of these offices serve a four-year term and have no term limits on what they can serve. Limits should be placed on how many terms each office should serve, and that limit should be three terms for a total of 12 years in that elected office. If one individual is in an office too long, they could take advantage of their office and use it unlawfully. We should place the same restrictions that are on our U.S. President and Vice President and apply them to our state officials. Certain individuals could gain too much influence and control a certain area of the state.
The Lt. Governor presides over the Senate which is rightfully so because the VP of the U.S. also is the presiding officer of the Senate on the national level. The Lt. Governor also can create additional tasks for himself, which is a good idea because he should find more duties to get more involved in the government.
The State Auditor is the only SEO that is elected at a different time than all the others and he audits all state agencies and can audit local government units upon request. The State Auditor’s duties are few but important and they should remain the same because he has a specific task that takes time and effort.
The Secretary of State coordinates elections, keeps records, and oversees the maintenance of libraries. These roles for the Secretary should also remain the same. He also has specific duties towards the state that takes careful planning and hard work and this position should not require any more activity.
The Attorney General must donate his or her full time to the office and is not allowed to involve them in a private practice and is liked to have a law degree. Being the most important office in the government the Attorney General is required to issue legal opinions to all statewide executive officials. Though the opinions of the Attorney General do not have the force of law, his opinion is highly regarded just because of the position that he is in. The attorney General defends state law when challenged on the federal constitutional grounds. This office also protects monopolies from forming and enforces the Consumer Protection Act. The Attorney General’s office should not be taken lightly because they have a great deal of power and responsibility. This position should stay a full time position due to the duties that have to be preformed. However, the requirements for the office should change. Because this office is so highly decorated the person running should at least be 28 years of age, have been a citizen for ten years, and a resident of the state for at least five years. He or she should also be required to have a law degree due to the fact that he is required to serve the state in legal matters. This position should not be taken lightly, the Attorney General is a powerful man that can powerful influences on the people and on other offices.
The State Treasurer handles the budget for Missouri and being that is his function, that should be his only function. Dealing with the state budget takes careful planning in how the money should and will be spent. They must also keep records of all the money that has been spent and how. This is a great responsibility and this should be the only one.
The Missouri Judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court then the Court of Appeals. Next are the Circuit Courts with 45 circuits in each county and then below that are the circuit, juvenile, associate, probate, and municipal divisions of courts. Trial and circuit courts use partisan selections, which allows the people to vote on a judge who is geographically close. The Appellate uses the Missouri plan that eliminates partisan politics, promotes independence, and is more competitive. In criminal cases charges can be filed either by the prosecutor or by a grand jury. Both of these plans should be kept the same because we use the prosecutor indictment mainly, but it is good to have a second form. The terms and qualifications for municipal judges are to be between 21 and seventy, and must not be a term less than two years. For associate judges, they are elected for four-year terms and must be at least 25 years of age. Circuit judges are popularly elected and serve six-year terms and must be at least 30 years of age. Appellate and Supreme Court judges are selected for 12-year terms. These qualifications and they can get re-elected into their spot if that time comes. All the judges should be elected except for that of the Missouri Supreme Court. Because this is such a prestigious position to have they should be appointed for life just as on the national level.
The Missouri government is financed through general revenue, through federal funds, and through some other small funds such as the taxing on cigarette’s, gambling, liquor, and the lottery. These taxes and sources of revenue income should be kept as they are. We may even reduce the tax on some of the small taxes since the income for the state this past year exceeded the Hancock Amendment.