This week, the Politically Speaking podcast team – Chris McDaniel, Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies – host state Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, currently the longest-serving member of the state House.
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Kelly, 67, served 12 years in the Missouri House from 1982-92, before term limits went into effect. A lawyer, he then served as Boone County associate circuit judge, chairman of the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission and Boone County clerk.
Kelly, who returned to the Missouri in 2009, is retiring after the 2014 election. That will have given him 18 years in the House.
Kelly, the vice chair of the Democratic caucus, is considered among the House’s budget and legal experts.
Among other things, Kelly said on the podcast:
- He laments term limits, believing that the eight-year limit in each chamber has prevented legislators from becoming familiar enough with state government: “There are too many things they don’t know.”
- He believes that the limits have increased the power of lobbyists, bureaucrats and staff – and also the political parties. “In the bad old days…no one in their right mind would allow the political parties to tell them what to do legislatively,” he said.
- He sides with Gov. Jay Nixon on the tax-cut fight, agreeing that the bill on the governor’s desk would eliminate income taxes on income above $9,000 a year because of a “fatal flaw.” Kelly adds that he doesn’t believe most legislators were aware of the provision when they passed the bill.
- He is critical of the governor’s actions, or inactions, on many other issues. Kelly said that Nixon has used his knowledge about the state budget, and legislators’ lack of it, to expand the power of the executive branch.
- He chides the governor for failing to support a comprehensive bill, which Kelly helped draft, to overhaul the state’s criminal code. Kelly says the effort, which has been underway for years, could die after this session because most of the main sponsors are leaving the General Assembly.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Chris Kelly on Twitter: @repckelly