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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Youth loses debate on age for service

Friday, April 26, 2002

I'm not sure if I agree with the Missouri Legislature when on Thursday they rejected a proposal to reduce the age to serve in the Legislature to 21. By a narrow vote lawmakers retained the age of service to 24 in the House and 30 in the Senate. Actually I disagree with the arguments against the proposal.

One legislator feared that young people at 21 misuse credit cards and are often "radical college kids." But if you'll recall there are a few members of that esteemed elected body who also have problems with credit and more.

A group of students at the University of Missouri had requested the age limit change primarily because of their concerns over higher education funding. But that issue was quickly lost in the discussion and the debate grew murky the longer it continued.

I agree with one legislator who pointed out there is a difference between intelligence and wisdom. And though highly intelligent, perhaps some of the younger generation lack the wisdom of service at that early point.

But the other side of the debate is just as obvious. I would agree that some 21-year-olds have a greater benefit to bring to the state Legislature than some who sit in those seats today. They may be the exception but they do indeed exist.

For now the age limit debate is over. It will surely surface again. And when it does the very same arguments will be used by both sides. At some point however, I believe the outcome will be different. That day has not yet arrived.

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