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The majority of the legislative sessions this week focused on LB22. The bill was introduced by Speaker Scheer who is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee at the request of the Governor. LB22 addresses the Governor’s expedited Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget adjustment recommendations. The Governor along with the Appropriations Committee have done a stellar job of dealing with the critical budget the State of Nebraska is facing.
Unfortunately, a vocal small group of Senators have engaged in offering several motions and amendments to delay a vote on the bill. Even after the LB22 is voted on, assuming the bill is advanced to select file, we have another opportunity to debate the merits of the bill. Given the urgency of the situation we need to debate and vote on LB22.
This intentional “delay tactics” being employed is not only holding up the debate and voting on LB22 it is further delaying the ability of your Legislature to address all of the bills currently voted out of committee and waiting to be introduced and debated. As of Thursday February 2nd, which is the twenty-first day of Legislative Session we have 65 bills awaiting debate and we have yet to adopt permanent rules for the session. Normally a new legislative session opens under temporary rules. Temporary rules are those rules that were in place under the previous session.
The Rules Committee during the current session was elected, met and put forth several changes to rules, the legislature is then supposed to vote on the adoption of permanent rules. Currently, the rule for cloture to debate requires 33 votes to close debate. A proposed rule change would require 20 votes to continue debate. This places the responsibility upon the group who desires to obstruct voting on a motion.
A successful cloture vote ceases debate and moves the bill to the immediate vote. Cloture does respect the concerns of minority while also respecting the duty of the entire legislative body to vote on bills that will benefit the good people of Nebraska. I firmly believe the filibuster has less to do about LB22 and more to do with delaying a vote on the rule change proposed and the subsequent adoption of permanent rules for this session.