- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

The Grand Island Independent. April 30, 2014.

New year will bring new leaders in state offices

Come next January, there will be a lot of moving vans pulling up to the State Capitol in Lincoln.

At least 17 state senators will be leaving office. These 17 will be leaving because of term limits. There could also be others leaving pending election results.

But that’s far from all.

There will be a new governor, a new lieutenant governor, a new attorney general and a new state auditor.

Nebraska’s state government will see a large-scale changing of the guard that rarely happens. A lot of experience walking out the door of the Capitol at the end of the year.

The domino that got all of this rolling is Gov. Dave Heineman leaving office. After 10 years as Nebraska’s governor, Heineman has reached his two-term limit.

That, of course, started the scramble. State Auditor Mike Foley and Attorney General Jon Bruning decided to leap into the governor’s race rather than safely seek re-election. That opened the statehouse up even more.

So what does all of this change mean for Nebraska? Will losing all of this experience in state government hurt the state?

Possibly. It can be good to get new blood, new ideas and fresh faces in office. It can revitalize state government.

However, an area that can be hurt is the Legislature. Since Nebraska has a unicameral, losing more than a third of the 49 state senators can be troublesome. The Legislature deals with many complex issues and getting comfortable dealing with them can take years.

Among the senators leaving are seven committee chairmen and Speaker Greg Adams. These eight senators have largely driven the agenda in the Legislature during the last two years. New people will be behind the wheel in 2015.

Many have long thought that the best way to have term limits is at the ballot box. If voters don’t like someone, elect someone new.

Nebraskans, though, instituted a limit of two terms on state senators in 2000. It has not been the disaster that many thought it would be. It seems every two years, new senators come in and capably fill the seats of the Legislature.

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