Proposal heard to change legislative term limits
LINCOLN, Neb. (KSNB) - Nebraska could be changing how long senators are in office, if a proposal makes its way through the Legislature and Nebraskans eventually vote to approve it.
Norfolk Sen. Robert Dover introduced LR22CA to the Executive Board on Friday.
The constitutional amendment would extend the current limit of two consecutive terms of four years to three consecutive four-year terms. If approved by the Legislature, the proposed constitutional change would be put to voters at the November 2024 general election.
Sen. Dover said that he favors term limits, but is concerned about the loss of institutional knowledge under the current system.
Grand Island Sen. Ray Aguilar and Kearney Sen. John Lowe join dozens more as co-sponsors of the bill.
“The government of Nebraska is a multi-billion-dollar operation that affects many aspects of taxes, business, agriculture, education, health care, insurance, natural resources, etc. within our state,” Dover said. “Having knowledgeable and informed senators who know how to address these issues is of great benefit to the people of Nebraska.”
He added that a common argument against extending it is if a senator can’t do the job in eight years than why give them 12. His response to that is that people don’t realize that it’s not 12 years of continuous service with the way the sessions are laid out for 90 days and 60 days.
“This is far from being a career politician,” he said.
Barry Kennedy testified in favor of the proposal on behalf of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greater Omaha Chamber and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
He expressed concern about the balance of power between the three branches of state government under the current system. The governor is subject to term-limits, he said, but the executive branch is filled with agency heads and long-time employees with a great deal of experience and institutional knowledge. In addition, he said, judges in Nebraska face no limits on their service.
With so much turnover in the Legislature, many new members also bring in new staff, further weakening the power of the legislative branch, Kennedy said.
Former state senator Al Davis also supported the measure, representing the Nebraska chapter of the Sierra Club and the Nebraska Farmers Union.
New senators spend about half of their first term trying to learn an overwhelming amount of information, he said, including the intricacies of hundreds of cash funds, commissions and committees as well as state and federal rules and regulations.
“Nebraska state government is an incredibly complex organism with multiple moving parts,” Davis said.
Nobody testified against the proposal and no action was taken on LR22CA.
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