This has been a week filled with “ups and downs”. On Wednesday, the Capitol was all a buzz with excitement to celebrate Nebraska’s 150 years of Statehood. You all have likely seen glimpses in the news media regarding the numerous events in, and surrounding, the Capitol honoring our State’s colorful and meaningful history. John Gale, the Secretary of State read the historic, original proclamation during the Official Statehood Day Ceremony in the George W. Norris Legislative Chamber in front of members of all three branches of government and the good people of Nebraska. Governor Pete Ricketts gave welcome and his remarks which highlighted the qualities that make Nebraska a great state to live and work.
Ultimately, the day was a celebration of what makes Nebraska great….its people. Hard working, principled people of the past and present have created a solid foundation and future for the state which we love to call “Home”.
This 150th celebration of Statehood was the highlight of the week. Legislatively, we have been hamstrung with filibusters by Senator Ernie Chambers and a few other Senators on a bill that would allow the creation of a ‘Choose Life’ specialty license plate.
This “Choose Life” specialty license plate is simply an acknowledgement of Nebraskans respect for life at all stages. This will, if ultimately passed, be one of many license plate choices for Nebraskans. Senator Ernie Chambers has chosen to waste the legislature’s time filibustering a rather innocent bill. No one will be mandated to buy a license plate with the “Choose Life” message. Nebraskans will have the freedom to choose this plate, or some other choice of plate.
Currently 29 other states have “Choose Life” license plates and 15 states have pending legislation for Choose Life plates. As of December 2016, these various states have raised 24 million dollars from the sale of “Choose Life” plates. Here in Nebraska, profits from the sale of Choose Life plates would go towards the “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” program.
It has been a challenge for the majority of the legislative body to be patient while Senator Ernie Chambers abuses the rules of the legislature, consuming our time with these types of nonsense filibusters. We will eventually move to acting on substantive issues such as passing a balanced budget for the next biennium. Please be patient as we deal with these efforts to obstruct by a handful of Senators.
Ending this week was the deadly prison riot at the Tecumseh Corrections Facility. I will limit my remarks on this at this time, because a full investigation is underway by the State Patrol. It is very unfortunate that two inmates lost their lives. This event happened in an area of the prison housing the ‘worst of the worst’ violent criminals. If there is any good news in this event, it would be that no corrections employees were harmed or killed.