The Interim Approaches
As the Nebraska Legislature prepares to adjourn Sine Die Wednesday, the pace around the Capitol is already starting to get less hurried. That’s not to suggest that senators and staff don’t work during the interim. However, the work takes on a different tone as returning senators and staff focus more on research, events and strategy/outreach meetings. Interim studies also help prepare an agenda for the next session. Senators who have tough reelection battles will spend a lot of time on the campaign trail this interim, while term-limited senators will run out the clock. Staffers who work for senators whose return next session is uncertain will be watching the primary and general election returns with keen interest. The Governor’s race is going to make for an interesting election year, as will the ballot measure on property taxes, which has a lot of people nervous due to the potential financial implications for the state and its ability to fund priorities.
So, what should advocates be doing in the meantime, amid all this flux? As someone who works on the inside, I suggest getting a head start in laying the groundwork for next session. Meet with senators and staff to figure out how to move forward strategically on issues that are important to you that did not gain traction last year. What were the pitfalls? Who else can be engaged? Were there gaps in research, data or personal stories that could help build the case next session? How can bills be restructured creatively to address concerns? Where are the opportunities with new incoming senators that might be joining the body? Where can you build on this session’s successes? Most importantly, what do your legislative champions need to move forward next session?
No doubt, everyone should take a breather after this exhausting session. Sometimes a vacation is all we ever wanted, right? But my advice is to start planning early for next session. It may make all the difference.
Wednesday’s agenda will include a number of bills on Final Reading and could also include veto overrides, if the Governor chooses to veto any of the bills that passed on Final Reading last week. It is important to note that if the Governor chooses to veto any of the bills that pass this Wednesday, the Legislature will not have the opportunity to override because it will be after they adjourn sine die. This type of veto is known as a “pocket veto.”
Despite some disappointing losses this session, including Title X funding restrictions for women’s health clinics, there were a number of other victories for Coalition members. But what many may remember the session for the most is successful defense on issues like Voter ID, Convention of States, Tax cuts and private school tax credits. Sometimes success can be measured in what you stop as well as what you get to the finish line.
As I type my last sentence on this blog, I just want to say it has been my pleasure to be your “Capitol Fly on the Wall” this session and I hope you all have a wonderful interim.
A Fond Farewell,
Your Capitol Fly on the Wall