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Senator Laura Ebke, Letter to the District
Seventeen down in the 2017 Legislative Session, and this past week was full of unexpected happenings.
Sen. Bill Kintner Resigns. On Wednesday, January 25, Sen. Bill Kintner from District 2 submitted his resignation to the Speaker. Sen. Kintner’s resignation followed a flurry of controversy, which took off last August when it was announced that he had been fined by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission for the misuse of state property (his laptop computer). His remaining in the Legislature after that was unwelcome by some. A week ago, he “retweeted” a “tweet” written by someone else, which some took exception to, and viewed as inappropriate in light of his earlier controversy.
Sen. Kintner had been a good friend to me, and to many of us in the Legislature. His style is certainly not “Nebraska laid back” (he grew up in Ohio, and had a long history of political activism before coming to Nebraska). Perhaps my greatest concern growing out of Sen. Kintner’s departure is this: that we not forget that we’re all humans, capable of making unfortunate mistakes. Which of those human flaws are appropriate concerns for the public, and which are better left in the private arena, are not always easy to determine.
Sen. Kintner’s replacement will be chosen by Gov. Ricketts. That replacement will serve until the election in 2018, at which time he or she can either run for election, or bow out. I would guess, given that we are in the midst of a legislative session, that the governor will make his appointment relatively quickly.
Other Happenings. Bills are starting to move out of committee now. Unfortunately, there isn’t much movement on the floor. We spent much of the past week debating rules (and in extended debate related to less significant motions, so that rules negotiations had time).
Each year, the Legislature adopts “Temporary Rules”—which are essentially the Rules as they were from the previous Legislative session—on the first day. Typically, those are in force for a week to 10 days, while the Rules Committee meets to hear ideas for Rules changes, and then the Committee comes to the floor, makes its proposals (if any) and we adopt “Permanent Rules.” The Rules define the procedures that we follow in debate, and in getting to votes on bills.
On Friday, we renewed the use of our current Temporary Rules for the second time, so that on Monday we could take up consideration of adjustments to the remainder of the budget for this biennium (which extends through June 30). I would guess that we’ll return to Rules adoption later in the week, and am hopeful that we’ll clear that off our plate, so that bills that have begun moving out of committee can start being debated.
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