State lawmakers have rejected a proposal to alter legislative term limits.
Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus proposed expanding the current limit of two, four-year terms to two, six-year terms.
“This is a serious issue, taken seriously by people who have absolutely nothing to benefit by putting it before the voters that we should look at building in some additional experience and institutional knowledge into the legislature,” Schumacher told fellow senators as he opened the second round of debate on LR 7 CA. “And let that decision be made by the voters.”
Schumacher succeeded in amending his proposal to ask voters to change the current limit of two, four-year terms to two, six-year terms, but he fell short of the votes needed to advance the amended bill to final reading.
The final vote was 20-22-6.
Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte rejected the argument that lawmakers need more time to become effective.
“We are addressing a problem that doesn’t exist,” Groene said. “We are assuming that there will be a problem in leadership in the legislature if we don’t have seniority.”
Supporters pointed to two aspects of the proposal as big selling points. One, none of the state senators now in the Unicameral would be affected. Two, that ultimately the proposal would be decided by the voters.
Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha said that though voters have rejected proposals to change legislative term limits in the past he didn’t see it as a problem to ask them about it once again.
“I see no negative other than the fact that we go back and give the people one more chance to look at a very critical issue,” Krist said.
Supporters argued legislators need more time to truly become effective.
But, Sen. Jim Scheer of Norfolk pointed out everyone now in the Unicameral won election after their successors were forced out by term limits.
“So, my fellow senators, all of us here today are here, because of term limits,” Scheer said. “We are a functioning body. We are all doing, I think, a good job and the sky hasn’t fallen.”