LINCOLN — A measure that would ask Nebraskans to lower the minimum age for public officeholders to 18 has advanced, despite concerns about the measure's constitutionality and whether young people are ready to serve.
Introduced by O'Neill State Sen. Tyson Larson, Legislative Resolution 26CA moved forward Monday to second-round debate on a 27-11 vote.
Larson argued that people who are old enough to vote should be old enough to run for office.
The minimum age for state senators to serve in the Nebraska Legislature is 21. The lieutenant governor, governor and judges on the Nebraska Supreme Court must be 30.
Larson's proposal, which was discussed for nearly three hours, would ask voters on the November ballot to lower the minimum age to 18 for all elected or appointed offices.
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But Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins said lawmakers should consider how confident they would feel if they walked into court and saw an 18-year-old judge on the bench. He also urged the legislative body to think about why the founders of the United States set age minimums on federal officeholders.
"It takes some life experience to understand what's going on around you," he said.
Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln said the measure simply would give Nebraskans the choice. "There are people that are older that probably shouldn't be in office, either, but we let the voters decide."
Constitutional problems arise with ballot questions that have too many subjects, said Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher. Larson's proposal, he said, could put voters in a position where they agree with parts and disagree with others.
The measure "bundles different, separate things," Schumacher said. "And I think (the Nebraska Supreme Court's) message has been 'You can't do that.' "
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