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The big story of the week was the decision by Senator Ernie Chambers to slow down the law-making process for the remainder of this 104th Legislative Session. Senator Chambers was able to accomplish that by using the rules of the Legislature.
According to those rules, up to six hours of debate time can be consumed the first time a bill is debated, before a cloture vote can be taken. Thirty three votes are required for cloture (cease all debate). If the thirty three votes are attained, then the bill can be voted on for advancement. On Select File, four more hours of debate are allowed before cloture. If a bill advances to Final Reading, two more hours of debate are allowed.
With the stall tactic employed by Senator Chambers earlier this week, little will be accomplished in our remaining days. Some important, good bills will not make it in 2016. Speaker Galen Hadley has moved to suspend the rules to get some of the most important bills through final reading, including the two property tax relief bills, LB 958 and LB 959, so those bills will be voted up or down this session.
LB 958 directs $20 million to farm and ranch land owners. LB 959 removes the minimum levy requirement for qualification for state equalization aid. This benefits primarily rural school districts. I support both LB 958 and LB 959.
Another bill that will be fully heard is LB 1067, which would change the Learning Community of the Douglas and Sarpy County school districts. An important provision is the elimination of the common levy – that levy is harmful to the rural Springfield-Platteview and Douglas County West districts.
Senator Chambers was upset by the defeat of LB 1056, The Patient Choice at End of Life Act, (Die with Dignity) and the passage of LB 10, making Nebraska a winner take all state with regard to presidential elections. LB 1056 had no chance and I was present and not voting.
While the Unicameral is officially nonpartisan, the nature of LB 10 was partisan. I voted for LB 10 along with the Republicans, and the Democrats voted against the bill. Senator Chambers was convinced that Governor Ricketts had contacted the Republican senators to pass the bill. Neither the Governor nor anyone from his office contacted me at all. “Winner take all” is the practice in all other states except Maine.
The Legislature ended its work week on April 7 and we come back on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 12th and 13 to try to get a few more bills across the finish line. We then recess for five days and return on April 20th. The Governor is given five days (not counting Sunday) to return any bills with vetoes to the legislature. On April 20th, the last day of session, overrides will be taken up if desired. At the end of that business, the Legislature will close out the 104th Session and adjourn sine die (the final adjournment of the session).
As we approach the end of the session, your contact is as important as ever. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2620.