By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
A powerful northwest Missouri senator, who returned to Jefferson City after serving as Andrew County Clerk, says the legislature has changed over the years and not always for the better.
Sen. Dan Hegeman of Cosby, a Republican, served in the minority during his time in the Missouri House – from 1991 to 2002 – but in the majority when he was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2014. In between, from 2002 to 2008, Hegeman served as Andrew County Clerk.
The is the second part of our two-part series produced from our in-studio interview with Hegeman.
Hegeman leaves the General Assembly due to term limits. He says prior to term limits, state senators cooperated more with each other since senators might serve for 20 years or more.
“And so, they had to learn how to work with each other, to accomplish what they needed to for their specific senatorial districts and their regions,” Hegeman tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post. “With term limits, all you have is eight years. It tends to make legislators look at the next job, the next position that they might want to run for, rather than working together toward long-term goals.”
Hegeman insists limiting senators to two, four-year terms has weakened the legislative branch of state government.
“To the benefit of the judicial branch and the executive branch of government and, quite honestly, the institutional memory is within the bureaucracy of state government and the lobbying corps of state government,” according to Hegeman. “So, the legislative branch has lost some of those powers, some of those skills. I have seen the legislative branch diminished, because of term limits.”
Hegeman spent his entire tenure in the Missouri House as a member of the minority party. Though he returned after Republicans had seized control of both the state House and Senate, he became frustrated and disappointed with Republican in-fighting in the Senate.
Hegeman worked to become Senate Appropriations Committee chair when he returned to the legislature, saying he wanted to bring a sound, reasonable approach to the budget process in Jefferson City. He rose to become one of the most powerful legislators in the state Capitol, a key player in deciding how the legislature spent taxpayer dollars.
“So, I’ve been happy that my stature has allowed me the opportunity to have a bit of an outsized voice on how we’ve directed the state of Missouri,” Hegeman says. “And I’m pleased that the citizens of northwest Missouri have given me that opportunity.”
Hegeman will leave the legislature at the end of this year. He says his focus will shift to local matters, volunteering with area nonprofits as well as becoming more engaged with his local church. He says the congregation hasn’t asked him to be budget chair, yet.