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The legislative process is in full swing. Mornings are spent on the floor debating bills that have come out of early committee work, most are just technical changes to existing laws. For example, the Education Committee has sent out three bills. One, LB115 by Senator Blood, whose district includes Offutt Air Force Base, eased the early school enrollment requirements for children of military personal who are being transferred to Nebraska for duty. It only affects a few military families, but to them, it is a frustrating hurdle to clear as they prepare to move to Nebraska.
LB66 was the first bill debated this year that met resistance and was eventually killed on the floor. It would have required any city with a population of over 800 citizens to include in its City’s Comprehensive Plan an early childhood element to assess the availability of quality early childhood education, health and child care. I spoke against the legislation because it was another mandate to local governments. A town does not have the personnel to do such an evaluation and would be forced to hire a consultant, with your tax-dollars, to do the study for them. We already have plenty of existing programs that are tied to receiving certain federal and state tax-dollars for early childhood programs, available in areas of education and health and human services. City councils have enough on their hands worrying about filling pot holes and zoning regulations, they don’t need to worry about if Mom and Dad are capable of managing the early years of their child’s development.
Senator Chambers took offense to the defeat of LB66 and we found ourselves in the unlucky position of our LB63 just happening to be the following bill. Therefore, he proceeded to filibuster a bill he basically found no fault with. After every election, Senator Chambers puts on a clinic for the new freshman members on his mastery of legislative rules. In some ways his antics serve the body well. He does educate the freshmen and refresh the memory of incumbent senators on the proper way to run a filibuster, and more importantly, he slows down the process and actually unites the body on an issue. By the time he is done, everyone on both sides of the political aisle is mad at him.
Senator Chambers has made it clear that he literally stands alone (in 45 years he has never sat in his assigned chair, he always stands) and he does not seek or need friends or political allies. He is a rare individual that can do it and do it well, even at the age of 82. I will say that I used to think the longest five minutes I ever spent was the five minutes before I asked my wife to marry me, but 34 years later I have come to understand I was wrong. The longest five minutes in the world is the proceeding five minutes after Senator Chambers hits his light the third time to address the body.
After three hours of political pontificating, LB63 was passed to Select File 41-0. As I mentioned last week in the column, LB63 is a simple local control and property tax relief effort concerning rural fire districts.
Next Monday, what we refer to as our teacher/student protection act, LB147, will have its hearing in the Education Committee. The bill gives teachers a tool to better control the overall behavioral climate in their classrooms and gives administrators and teachers guidance to address student behavior directly with parents and students.
Next Tuesday, LB695, our attempt at long term property tax relief through a fix of the state’s school funding formula (TEEOSA), will have its hearing on Tuesday in the Education Committee. The bill would create a reliable state aid source through the creation of public school foundation aid for each student. The source of the aid would be based on 25% of the state’s total income and sales tax receipts.
The road to success on any major legislation is long and tedious. We see a path forward for property tax relief, but there will be bumps and branches to clear before we get there.
Contact Sen. Mike Groene: firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2729.