Floor debate on priority bills continued this week. The speaker established the “Late Night” schedule to begin soon, so the legislature will be in session well into the evenings. This was a busy week, and things will only get busier. The White Clay Hearing at the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission was held this week. Closing arguments will be April 14th and they will render a decision on the Liquor Licenses in White Clay by May 2nd. The hearing on the challenge to Sen. Chamber’s residency was Friday, April 7th. He prevailed.
LB 68 was heard on the floor this week. This bill would enforce Nebraska State Law on the carrying of guns State-wide without exemption by cities and towns. An amendment for Omaha was included. This was a hotly debated measure. It wasn’t immediately clear if the votes to break a filibuster and invoke cloture (33) were available, so the bill was taken off the agenda.
On that point it’s important to note that this very same thing will happen again and again with other controversial bills this session. If the introducer “doesn’t have cloture” (33 Senators who have pledged to support a motion to end debate) then the bill simply won’t be back on the agenda. Given the first third of the session was spent on the rules argument, there just isn’t any time left. It’s not fair to other priority bills waiting in the queue for the body to keep arguing on a bill there isn’t the votes to stop debate and take a vote on. I support Speaker Sheer’s decision to enforce this policy. It’s a good idea.
The Revenue Committee reported a bill I co-sponsored, LB 640 (Sen. Groene, North Platte), to general file. Keep an eye on this one. This is a GREAT bill to reform education funding and take pressure off property taxes. LB 338 (The Governor’s AG Property Tax Bill) is also out of the committee after being heavily amended with language from other good bills. It is now called LB 461 and it has an amendment AM 954. Keep an eye on these too. The staff and I are currently analyzing these bills. There are a few important changes to some of the language I have in mind, so I will be discussing an amendment to the amendment with the Governor’s Policy Research team and members of the Revenue Committee, but we are really close with this bill. The Committee and the Governor’s office have worked very hard on this, and it is a night and day difference from what was first introduced. If we can pass these two measures, I think real property tax reform for agriculture ground is really going to happen this session. I was very pessimistic about this happening until I saw LB 461 and AM954. Now I am cautiously optimistic about it. Now is the time to call and write every Senator in the legislature and urge them to support these bills. We need the “33” Senators I spoke of to get these passed and we cannot do it without YOU!
I want to thank everyone who contacts my office letting us know where you stand on bills before the legislature. Please keep your calls and letters coming. I wish you could see how important citizen involvement is to this process. The “2nd House” of the Nebraska Legislature is vital. Please contact the office if you would like to set up a time to visit with me, or you have any concerns about what is happening in YOUR legislature.