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The election on the 8th was an upset in more ways than one. You have plenty of places to read about the national election, but there were some surprises for the Nebraska Legislature as well. In addition to the 12 new senators who will be joining us in January due to term limits, five new senators will be replacing ones who were running for re-election. When you consider the fact that there were 17 new senators, including myself, who entered the legislature two years ago, that amounts to 34 out of 49 senators with two years of experience or less. This is possibly one of the unintended consequences of term limits: institutional knowledge is extremely limited in the Legislature as we face down a budget shortfall of over $900 million, something which none of us have experienced anything close to. I have never been a fan of term limits, as I have always believed that Nebraskans have an extremely effective term limit mechanism – elections. We have seen that this year, in five of the thirteen districts which had incumbents running for re-election. Limiting the number of elections in which the people can choose their own representative to continue to serve them is, in my opinion, unnecessary, and it produces some serious consequences.
Nearby District 44, there will be two new senators joining the Legislature in 2017. In District 43, which starts just north of Lincoln County, retired US Army Colonel Tom Brewer of Gordon will be replacing Senator Al Davis. Prior to his election, Colonel Brewer spent 36 years in the military, including six tours in Afghanistan. In District 47, comprising all of the panhandle except for Scotts Bluff County, Steve Erdman of Bayard will be replacing Ken Schilz, who was term limited. Mr. Erdman is a former School Board member and County Commissioner and has been farming for over 40 years.
I am happy to welcome another senator who I believe will be a true advocate for agriculture. Tom Briese of Albion will be replacing Senator Kate Sullivan in District 41. I have sat down with all three of these senators-elect, and have begun building relationships with them which I am eager to see continue into the legislative session. I look forward to adding to the coalition which is the voice of rural concerns in the Nebraska Legislature.