It was a short legislative week, but one day still remains before adjournment sine die of the 102nd Legislative Session. We will return for our 60th and final day this session on Wednesday, April 18. During the two days we were in session last week, we cast votes on Final Reading on the last of the bills before us. Final votes were taken on two bills, in particular, that carried controversy.
One bill is LB 599, to provide Medicaid coverage for prenatal care for pregnant woman, regardless of her immigration status. The bill passed 31 to 15, but the Governor has indicated that he will veto the legislation.
LB 1161 also passed on a 44 to 5 vote. This bill builds upon legislation pertaining to oil pipelines passed during our special session with regards to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. Given that the pipeline permit was denied by the President, LB 1161 allows the State of Nebraska to work expeditiously and thoroughly on determining the safety of a new route through the state outside of our sandhills. The key provisions of this approved legislation are:
- A pipeline carrier must apply for approval from the governor to construct a major oil pipeline in Nebraska. The governor may approve the application or refer it to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for further review;
- Limits a pipeline carrier’s eminent domain rights to two years after approval of a pipeline application;
- PSC must make public any documents or records relating to a major oil pipeline unless prohibited by federal law ;
- Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is required to hold at least one public hearing on an application under review by the department; and
- A pipeline carrier is required to reimburse DEQ for evaluation costs of the pipeline route.
When the Legislature reconvenes for the final session day, we will take up motions to override gubernatorial vetoes. In order to override the governor’s veto, 30 votes are required. The previously mentioned LB 599 will be among the vetoed bills of which an override will be sought. Additionally, LB 357 will be considered for a veto override. Upon voter approval, LB 357 allows cities to raise the local option sales tax to 1.75 or 2 percent as opposed to current law, which permits cities to impose only 0.5, 1, or 1.5 percent with voter approval. The Governor’s message explaining his veto of LB 357 expresses concerns with the state authorizing a sales tax increase up to 33% more in already difficult economic times. The bill passed on April 5, 30 to 15, without my support.
LB 806 is another bill vetoed by Governor Heineman that passed in the Legislature 26 to 18. Four more senators must vote for the bill to override the governor’s veto. In his veto message, the governor raises constitutional questions of betting on past races, suggests improper legislative authority by tying together this new form of gambling and determinations of the State Racing Commission, and expansion of gambling deviating from live racing.
These three bills with motions to override the Governor’s vetoes will be the last votes taken for the 102nd Legislature, and it will be the final votes for nine state senators leaving the body due to term limits. Their leadership and expertise will certainly be missed.
I enjoyed company of constituents at the Cuming County Feeders Association Annual Banquet on April 14. Additionally, 4th graders from Fort Calhoun visited the State Capitol on April 11. I will have an opportunity to visit their class in person on April 16. Thank you to everyone in the District for your phone calls, e-mails, and visits throughout the session. Even with only days remaining this session, please continue to communicate with me on legislative issues of importance to you at email@example.com or (402) 471-2728.
Serving you in the Nebraska Legislature to Keep the Good Life Growing,
Senator Lydia Brasch