Proposal to lower age for public office stalls

After two days of discussion, select file debate stalled Feb. 18 on a measure that would allow an 18-year-old to hold public office in Nebraska.

As introduced by O’Neill Sen. Tyson Larson last session, LR26CA would place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2016 general election ballot that would change age eligibility for public office in Nebraska to the federal voting age.

Currently, an individual must be 21 to serve in the Legislature and 30 to serve as governor, lieutenant governor or as a Nebraska Supreme Court judge.

Larson said the change would ensure that more Nebraskans could be involved in the democratic process.

“Let’s make sure that everyone has a voice and that everyone has the opportunity to serve,” he said.

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers opposed the bill and offered a number of motions in order to extend debate and compel a cloture motion—an attempt to cease debate and force a vote on a bill.

“We’re talking about the constitution,” he said. “We should be the guardians and protectors of the constitution.”

After four hours of debate, Larson offered a cloture motion that was defeated on a 26-18 vote. Thirty-three votes were required for adoption.

A failed cloture motion results in debate on a bill ceasing for the day. LR26CA is unlikely to be scheduled for further debate this session.

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