State senators are debating whether voters should be asked to make an adjustment to their term limits.
Well, not exactly their term limits.
Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus tells colleagues his constitutional amendment, LR 7 CA, would have no effect on any of them, only future lawmakers who would see the limit of two, four-terms expanded to two, six-year terms.
“This question should be presented to the voters,” Schumacher tells colleagues during floor debate. “It’s their decision and it’s the only way they’re going to get to make it.”
Many senators back the change, stating experience is needed to be effective in the Unicameral. They argue a maximum of eight years doesn’t provide the time needed to adequately represent the people of Nebraska.
Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte notes he served as the treasurer of Nebraskans Against Amendment Three: Save Term Limits, which campaigned against the last proposed change to legislative term limits. Nebraskans defeated that measure by a 65% to 35% margin, though proponents of the latest suggested change are quick to point out that measure also had a salary increase attached to it.
Groene says he has become even more convinced that term limits work since becoming a member of the Unicameral.
“Eight years you stay closer to the people than you do the institution,” Groene tells colleagues. “Yes, this is a great institution, but it doesn’t exist for the sake of the institution. It exists for the sake of the citizens of Nebraska.”
Current legislative term limits limit state senators to two consecutive four-year terms. After serving eight years, senators can run for re-election after sitting out a term.
The controversy that erupted over remarks made by Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha sidetracked debate on the issue. Legislators might well return to the issue today.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]