Legislative hiring part of Nebraska turf war

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Earlier this month, members of the Legislature’s Executive Board huddled under the balcony in the legislative chambers and announced plans to hire a guy — Larry Bare, former Gov. Dave Heineman’s chief of staff.

Bare wasn’t held over by Gov. Pete Ricketts — aside from a brief stint as acting director of the Department of Administrative Services. But Sen. Bob Krist, R-Omaha, had an idea: Hire him to be the Legislature’s “senior research consultant,” with the primary task of overseeing a $76 million upgrade of the Capitol’s 55-year-old heating and air conditioning system and other building repairs.

But why would the Legislature hire Bare for $65,000 annually when the state already has a Capitol administrator, Bob Ripley, who earns more than that and just oversaw a 12-year, $57 million makeover of Nebraska’s ornate Capitol?

After all, the renovations won’t even begin until 2017.

Well, it comes down to a bit of a turf war.

Krist said he led the charge to hire Bare because he doesn’t think the legislative branch has been well-represented in past Capitol renovations.

“I had several meetings with Mr. Ripley and talked to the Capitol Commission on a number of things,” he said. “I made it very clear that senators should not be out of this building for a session. And his plan of taking a quadrant out of service for a time and moving it elsewhere in Lincoln is not acceptable for us.”

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