In 2008, State Senator DiAnna Schimek’s 20-year legislative career came to an end, thanks to the term limits initiative enacted by Nebraska voters. Third time proved the charm; the state supreme court had struck down the first two citizen-initiated term-limit measures.
Without the initiative process, no term limits. That’s reason enough for Schimek and other pseudo-solons to despise the initiative — not to mention that every initiative breaks legislators’ law-making monopoly
In 2008, Sen. Schimek and her fellow unicamereleons realized the voters had won. Unable to overturn term limits a third time, they did the next worst thing: wreck the path by which such popular reforms could be instituted in the future.
Schimek introduced Legislative Bill 39, which re-wrote the rules for petitioning initiative measures onto the ballot. Illuminatingly, more than 90 percent of state senators termed-out that year supported Schimek’s parting shot to punish the initiative petition process. When the governor vetoed this frontal assault on a fundamental democratic check, legislators overrode his veto.
Since passage of LB 39 in 2008, not a single citizen initiative has qualified for the ballot.
Then, on Tuesday, after a multi-year legal challenge brought by Citizens in Charge and Nebraska citizens, a federal judge struck down the law’s ban on out-of state petition circulators as unconstitutional.
One of the chains left around the neck of the Nebraska citizenry by Schimek and that last batch of career politicians has now been removed.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.