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This is the last week of the regular session for Missouri lawmakers. We're bringing you the perspectives of two Representatives who are leaving the legislature because of term limits...Tomorrow, we'll have comments from a democrat...This afternoon, KSMU's Missy Shelton continues her conversation with Republican Representative Mark Wright of Springfield.
Shelton: You're a supporter of term limits. One of the issues opponents of term limits often site is the notion of losing institutional knowledge. Is that a potential downside of term limits?
Wright: That is a downside of term limits. The bureaucrats around here have a lot more institutional knowledge and control and a lot of these young legislators are going up to analysts, House counsel, lobbyists to get their questions answered. The outside factors and special interests have gained a little more control. That's a negative aspect of term limits. It's probably only going to get worse. It's rare you see someone stay here 8 years. I'm number one in seniority in the House of Representatives and I'm only 37 years old and been here 8 years. That's just the way it is. With term limits, you have people staying 2 and 4 years and running for state senate. Bureaucrats around here have a lot of control. Another thing term limits have done is put a lot of power in the leadership positions.
Shelton: Despite all that, why would you say term limits are a good thing for the state?
Wright: The reason why is because...term limits are good. I don't know if 8 years are good, maybe 10 or 12 years might be better, keep people around here a little bit longer. But the reason I'm a supporter of term limits is because when you got people hanging around here 30 and 40 years, like we had with members of the senate, they consolidate too much power, too much control. It's a catch 22. If you want us out of here in 8 years, you're going to give control to other people. But if you keep around here for 30 or 40 or 50 years, you're going to consolidate power into a handful of people. Obviously, some people can't stay around that long because they get beat but the people who do stick around that long and they're smart, they gain a lot of power and you can make this place do what you want it to do. That's one of the negative things about not having term limits. I think there needs to be a happy medium.
Shelton: As far as looking back on your 8 years in the House, do feel like you've made a difference?
Wright: Absolutely. Obviously, there have been some legislative accomplishments over the years that I'm very proud of. I've got quite a few bills hanging on the wall with governor's signatures on it. But the thing I've enjoyed most is helping the people that put me here. Constituents services has been the number one factor for me being here. I've had the opportunity to help so many people over the years. I can look back at those individual requests from constituents and you've thought, "There's no possible way I can help this person." But then you do help them. To see the gleam in their eyes and how appreciate they are, that's the most emotional aspect of leaving this job. I won't be there for my constituents who really need me. Hopefully, they'll get an adequate replacement and I'm sure they will. The legislature will go on without Mark Wright. That's for sure. But that's the one thing I'm going to miss is helping people with their problems. We have chapters that open and close in every aspect of our lives. I think there are bigger and better things in store for me later on in life so I'm kind of excited to get this part done and see where the rest of life leads. I've learned so much that will help me through the rest of my life. You get to understand how things get accomplished in life. You have to compromise with the other side. I came in and was headstrong when I first came in. Now I understand if you put honey on your words, I see how much more you accomplish. So, really I've learned a lot here, just common sense manners, just how to treat people. I'm very appreciate that the people of north Springfield have given me in the legislature, I can assure you.
Shelton: Thank you!
Wright: Thank you!
Shelton: I've been speaking with Republican Representative Mark Wright of Springfield. Join me tomorrow when I talk with Democratic Representative Barbara Fraser of St Louis County about her time in the legislature and term limits.