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Term Limited Lawmakers Reflect on Their Careers, Part 3

This is the last week of the regular legislative session in Missouri and we're bringing you the perspectives of two senior House members who are ending their legislative careers because of term limits...On Wednesday, you heard from a Republican...Today, KSMU's Missy Shelton talks with Democratic Representative Barbara Fraser of St Louis County.

Shelton: You are term limited out. This is your last final week of session.

Fraser: Yes it is. My actual duties as a representative don't end until December 31, 2006. But yes, in fact this is the last week that I will be making laws in a session other than during veto session in September.

Shelton: How do you feel about that?

Fraser: It's really very sad. I have loved being able to get involved in the legislative process. My background has been that of a history teacher. I've studied other lawmakers in the history of our country. This has been an opportunity to serve our state in a way that is a true honor and I've been very humbled and very thrilled to do what I was able to do.

Shelton: You came into the House at a time when democrats were in control. And of course, as you're leaving now that has changed. What has that process been like to be here during a power change?

Fraser: It's been a very interesting experience throughout this whole time. There's no doubt it would be much easier to pass legislation when the democrats or one's own party is in control, as is the case in my case. On the other hand, I think the best time I had as a state representative were years 3 and 4 when in fact we had the House democratic and the Senate was republican and the governorship was democratic. We worked together so well. Everyone was eager to get the most important bills passed. I was fortunate enough to get a bill passed having to do with children's health insurance and made a difference for 70,000 children. I was so happy that passed but everybody had to work together. I had to work with my republican and democratic colleagues in the House and Senate and it just felt like we were all behind the same things. Of course there were subtle differences. I really felt we worked very well together.

Shelton: Now as you leave, what's the climate like for you in the minority party?

Fraser: The most discouraging two years was the third term. The republicans had newly gained control of the House and Senate. As a result of their need to make sure their agenda passed, democratic bills weren't recognized and often democratic legislators weren't even allowed to speak. I think my last two years here, my seventh and eighth year have been very fruitful. We have worked well within our own party and with the majority party. I'm pleased about some of the legislation that has passed. On the other hand, because the governor is the same party as the House and Senate, many pieces of legislation have been pushed through without any opportunity to offer dissent. So, much majority legislation has been barreled through and there's been no opportunity to have democratic pieces to it. I don't think that's not healthy for our country and our state that we don't have that shared view and working together as well as it could be.

Shelton: Join me this afternoon when I continue my conversation with Democratic Representative Barbara Fraser of St Louis County. If you missed my conversation yesterday with Republican Representative Mark Wright of Springfield, it's online at ksmu.org