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District 38 State Senator Tom Carlson (Holdrege), was the sponsor of the legislative resolution which resulted in the appearance of Proposed Amendment No. 3 on Nebraskans’ November 6, 2012, ballots. As we explained in a previous article in more detail, Amendment No. 3 would change current provisions in Nebraska’s Constitution which limit State Senators to two consecutive four year terms in the State Legislature. Carlson wants State Senators to be allowed to serve three consecutive terms.
Senator Carlson’s statements on the Unicameral floor on February 22, 2012 (p. 39 on the transcript) urging his fellow State Senators to vote for his legislative resolution on the proposed amendment reveal he’s either of two minds about whether it’s really justified or he’s speaking with a forked tongue. You decide.
“I think with our term limits, the executive branch is more powerful and more influential. I respect the Governor. I agree with the Governor most of the time, but I believe that the executive branch has more power under our present circumstances.
I think that lobbyists have more power and influence. I like lobbyists. Lobbyists are a good source of information. I’m not against what lobbyists do.
But when you come in and have really no knowledge of the issues and very limited knowledge and knowledge of how the Legislature works, and you need information, lobbyists are a good source of information. They have a lot of influence.
I think our legislative staffs have more influence with term limits. I was elected to the Legislature, as you were. One of my first responsibilities was to hire two staff members, and I didn’t even know what they did but I hired them, and I got good ones.
I think political parties have more influence, particularly if they gave anybody money in the campaign. If they gave you money, they want you to listen. And it takes awhile to get to a point where you can sort out how much you should listen and how much you shouldn’t.
I think present term limits give our senators a little opportunity to take leadership positions in regional or national legislative organizations. Now that’s not a big item, but it does lessen the influence that Nebraska has. We don’t have enough time to take some of those responsibilities.
One of the 49 people in the Nebraska Unicameral, specifically, Senator Tom Carlson, wants the opportunity to spend an additional four years making laws that affect the lives, liberty and property of Nebraskans, after he confessed that he:
- Apparently has some sort of love/hate relationship with the Governor. What? Governor Dave is right most of the time, except when he’s wrong, and then it’s only because he’s temporarily overcome by the power of his office? Surely there’s a stronger argument Carlson could muster if he really believes in the separation of powers. THE CONSTITUTION comes to mind.
- Likes lobbyists, gets information from them, but, paradoxically, thinks they have too much influence. Which is it? If lobbyists have too much influence over you, wouldn’t it be simpler to . . . I don’t know . . . STOP LISTENING TO THEM RATHER THAN TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION?
- Didn’t know anything about the issues or how the State Legislature worked when he was elected to the office he holds. That’s curious. Why would someone run for an office for which he was/is completely unqualified? Is it really a selling point to admit to his own lack of qualification for office while engaged in an effort to persuade other senators to vote for a measure he — the one who professes to be clueless — has proposed?
- Hired people he didn’t know to do jobs he didn’t understand working in a legislative office he’s just admitted that he’s unqualified to occupy (see above). And he just really lucked out – phew! Thank you, Lord. (I have to ask: If everything Senator Carlson has said thus far is true, how credible is his opinion that his legislative aides are even competent, let alone “good ones”?)
- Accepted money from donors not understanding the usual motivations behind those donations – usually there are strings attached. And, in Tom Carlson’s case, donors could not simply have been interested in giving money to support the “known quantity” of Carlson as a candidate, such as his depth of understanding of either the issues or the lawmaking process – he stated himself – he had no knowledge of either.
- Accepted Republican Party influence when he ran for and for a long time after he came into office, having no independence of mind, apparently.
While there is ever so much more that may be said about Carlson’s February floor speech, for the moment, I will end with a couple of questions for the Senator.
Senator Carlson, if the Governor is such a great guy and is right on the issues the vast majority of the time, why decry his power relative to your own? If you like lobbyists so much and believe they give good information, why decry their influence? If you had no idea what the demands of public office were and had so little to offer your constituents, why did you throw your hat in the ring initially AND why, now, do you seek the opportunity to extend the limits of your time in office?
It’s impossible in life to “have it both ways.” The same is true in politics. Leadership requires conviction.
You’re going to have to pick one…
Devil or angel? Make up your mind.
Meanwhile, readers, ask yourselves, should we seriously consider giving Senator Carlson four years, in addition to the eight he’s already allowed, to figure out the answer?
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