ROBERT ROSS

A Texas County lawmaker says a bill he filed that would qualify legislators who have served two years to practice law or become a judge was meant to spark a discussion on the importance of continuing education.

A statement released Friday by Republican State Rep. Robert Ross, of the 142nd District, which includes Texas County, says “it is not my intentions…to pursue further action on HB 2610.”

The bill states that “a person who has served at least two years as a member of the Missouri General Assembly shall: (1) Qualify such person to practice law as an attorney in the state of Missouri; and (2) Satisfy any requirements for a person to become an associate or circuit court judge in the state of Missouri.”

The piece of legislation was filed Feb. 23 and had its first hearing in the Missouri House that same day. A second hearing occurred Feb. 24.

Ross, of Yukon, says he sponsored the bill as a tongue-in-cheek move to show why continuing professional training is needed.

Ross noted in his statement that the bill was “filed to highlight an issue and subsequently prompt a conversation relative to the importance of education and experience necessary to operate as a professional, within any given field.”

Ross says he proposed the legislation after an attorney told lawmakers that receiving a license to practice allows lawyers to provide a range of services. Ross says further education is sometimes needed.

According to Ross, during a committee hearing on professional registration, “an attorney recounted all of the functions that they could undertake (many of which would otherwise require years of specialized education and training), as a result of passing the bar exam and becoming licensed as an attorney.”

Ross stated that while he disagreed with the premise of the attorney’s argument, “HB 2610 underscores the training expected of professionals that we trust; while reversing the situation.”

Ross noted just as watching the “Doctors” TV show does not qualify a person to perform surgery, “serving in the Legislature cannot adequately prepare one with the diverse education and experience necessary to file/try a case or represent a client before the court.”

Ross stated that he values “the expense, effort and expertise required to become licensed and practice law” and has “respect/admiration for those who have achieved the necessary qualifications to do so; in the same manner that I respect other professionals for the completion of the necessary requirements to provide their services.”

In his statement, Ross told law school students not to drop out and run for the Missouri Legislature just yet.

Legislation passed in 2007 barred public universities from denying jobs to lawmakers because they don’t have graduate degrees.

Critics at the time said it gave an advantage to lawmakers looking to work as professors after leaving office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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