Editor’s Note: There are actually four proposed Amendments which will appear on Nebraska ballots statewide on November 6. To read the full text of all four, click HERE. To read an article about proposed Amendment No. 4, which would increase State Senators’ salaries, click HERE.
In 2000, Nebraska voters approved Initiative No. 415 by a vote of 50.2% FOR, to 39.7% AGAINST, which limited Nebraska Legislators to two consecutive four year terms in office.
The limitation on two consecutive four year terms means that term-limited State Senators can sit out for four years and run again. Readers will note that former State Senator Ernie Chambers, for instance, was term-limited in 2008, and is running again this year in District 11.
This year’s Proposed Amendment No. 3, would ease that voter imposed restriction and allow Nebraska’s State Senators to serve for three consecutive four year terms.
Proposed Amendment No. 3
A vote FOR this constitutional amendment would change the number of terms a member of the Legislature may serve from two consecutive four year terms to three consecutive four year terms.
A vote AGAINST this constitutional amendment would retain two consecutive four year terms asthe number of terms a member of the Legislature may serve.
A constitutional amendment to change the limit on legislative terms to three consecutive terms.
This article provides an overview of the basics about this proposed amendment. We believe Amendments No. 3 and No. 4 require deeper inquiry and discussion by Nebraska’s voters. If you agree, we encourage you to join us for a presentation on two available dates we have scheduled. Click HERE for more details.
- Amendment No. 3 would change the language in the State Constitution at Article III, Section 12, Legislators
- Has been included on the ballot through the Constitutional provisions which allow the State Legislature to propose amendments (click here to read an explanation of all the ways).
- LR358CA, the Legislative Resolution which initiated the measure, was introduced by District 38 State Senator Tom Carlson on January 4, 2012.
- Senator Carlson made LR358CA his priority bill (each Senator gets one such bill) for this year’s Legislative Session.
- LR358Ca was passed by Nebraska’s State Senators by a vote of 31 ayes, 14 nays, 4 excused and not voting, on April 4, 2012. Click here to see the detailed roll call vote.
Number of new State Senators elected in each election since the initiative caused Senators to reach the current two term limit:
- 23 – 2006
- 17 – 2008
- 11 – 2010
Since 2000, there have been three attempts to extend or otherwise change the term limit approved by voters, prior to this year[1. The source of information that there were three such attempts, come from State Senator Tom Carlson’s statements before the Unicameral’s Executive Board of the Legislative Council on February 1, 2012 (see p.18 of the hearing transcript) as the introducer of LR358CA, and again when he spoke about his resolution on the Unicameral floor on February 22, 2012.], in:
Searching for past legislation that was introduced, but didn’t succeed, is a frustrating and time consuming proposition, so I’m not going to look into each in detail. I will simply provide information about the 2003 effort as just one example: LR7CA, proposed an amendment to extend the limit from two to three terms; the measure would have appeared on General Election ballots in November 2004. The legislative committee which held the hearing on the measure, voted to indefinitely postpone it on February 6, 2003.
With two terms, other entities have more power and influence at the Unicameral than State Senators:
- Executive Branch
- Political parties
- Legislative staffs
Two terms do not afford a legislator the opportunity to:
- Learn how to do the job in time enough to do it as effectively as three terms would allow
- Serve on enough committees
- Join in regional and national legislative organizations
ADDITIONAL ARGUMENT MADE BY ADVOCATES:
Here at GiN, we have long been aware of the prevailing opinion within the Unicameral that the only Senators who understand the State’s budget are members of the Appropriations Committee. Besides citing the reason that new State Senators “need” essentially or nearly their entire first term to “learn” how to fulfill their role as a State Senator, citing the lack of knowledge of the budget is the most frequently stated reason.
“Editorial, 10/9: Amendments: Yes on 3, yes on 4” – Lincoln Journal Star. Note: You may or may not be able to view the LJS article due to their newly imposed monthly visit limits by non-subscribers. I don’t know what the limit is, sorry. And yes, we are annoyed. LJS made this change in a very sloppy and foolish way – those of us who link to their website – and thereby drive additional traffic they would not otherwise have received (duh!) have been caused needless work.
Organizations which testified at the Committee hearing in support of LR358CA on February 1, 2012:
- Nebraska ACLU
- Nebraska Farm Bureau
- Nebraska State Fire Fighters Association
- Nebraska Bankers Association
- Nebraska Chamber of Commerce
- Nebraskans for Civic Reform
QUESTIONS WORTH PONDERING
- Has enough time passed with the two term limit to make informed judgements about the impact?
- The 2000 initiative that was passed did not count any time serving in the Unicameral prior to 2001, so impact didn’t truly begin until the 2006 election.
- Should individuals running for State Legislature know enough about their state government to operate competently in the office from Day One on the job?
- Is Nebraska’s government so extensive and complex that is beyond the abilities of intelligent, competent citizens to understand?
- Should candidates for office possess the knowledge, judgment, and moral character necessary to discern from whom they should obtain information, guidance, and support before they are elected to office, so that they don’t require four years to figure those matters out?
- Should a candidate for State Legislature know before they are in office the motivations and purpose of lobbyists?
- What procedure should a State Senator follow in determining who to hire as staff in their offices?
- What procedures have Nebraska’s legislators been following such that they are more powerful than the people for whom they work?
- How many committees, on average, do State Senators serve on?
- How many committees are there in the Unicameral?
- What are the functions of committees?
- What are the duties involved in serving on a committee?
- Are all of the current committees necessary for the proper functioning of our government?
- Haar, K.
- Harr, B.
Excused and not voting:
Return to: BASICS on AMENDMENT 3
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