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Term limits to be on ballot

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Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 8:50 am

Nebraska lawmakers have put before voters a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow voters to extend term limits for state senators from two to three.

The measure was introduced by state Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege.

Nebraska voters enacted term limits in 2000, and they went into effect in 2006. As a result, state senators are limited to serving two consecutive four-year terms. They can attempt to return after sitting out a term.

Supporters say term limits eliminate the "good ol' boy" system they say is rife with back-room deals and open to corruption.

Opponents say term limits will increasingly allow legislative rookies to be outmaneuvered by lobbyists and bureaucrats with more experience.

Carlson said most senators use a good chunk of their first term learning the ropes, including the intricacies of the legislative process and rules, how to present and carry a bill and how to juggle serving on multiple committees.

But when lawmakers are forced out after two terms, Carlson said, the Legislature loses experience and expertise.

Nebraska is one of 15 states that limit the terms of state lawmakers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

During the peak of the term limits movement in the 1990s, 21 states moved to restrict lawmakers' tenure. But courts in Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming threw out term limits, and lawmakers in Idaho and Utah repealed them.

Nebraska voters approved term limits for state senators and members of Congress in 1992 and again in 1994. Both were thrown out after legal challenges.

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