The exhausted looks in the Capitol corridors and the conversations about vacations to come conveyed the sense last week that lots of people were ready to get out of the Capitol when the Legislature adjourned sine die. But some senators weren’t ready to leave.
The final two days of the session didn’t have a lot of suspense. There were two last-minute gubernatorial vetoes, one of which was overridden and the other of which was not. LB492 (Wayne), which allows Omaha-area cities to form a new transit authority to help expand the current transit system to better serve residents, survived a gubernatorial veto. Opposition to the bill stemmed largely from the power of the new regional transit authority to levy property taxes.
Disappointing to many was the Governor’s successful veto of LB533 (Cavanaugh), which sought to create gender-neutral terminology on marriage applications, licenses and certificates. In the Governor’s veto message, he said he directed the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to change all documents to read “Groom/Party A” and “Bride/Party B.” With the additions of “Party A” and “Party B” Senator Cavanaugh felt she was able to claim some progress on the issue and decided not to attempt an override as she did not believe she had the votes.
So, What’s Next?
The Legislature will be working on a lot of big issues over the interim. Check out the list of interim studies to see what is included. In addition to those items, expect considerable discussions and attempts at compromise on business tax incentives and property taxes.
Because this was the first session of the two-year biennium, there will be considerable carryover bills that will see the light of day next session. When the Legislature convenes again next January, senators will go back to the legislative worksheet order and take up bills that advanced out of committee but did not receive priority designation. The worksheet shows there are 86 bills on General File (the first round of three rounds of debate), so there will be plenty of business to get back to when the Legislature reconvenes. Senators don’t typically introduce as many bills in the 60-day sessions. Senator Justin Wayne, who brought nearly 50 bills this year (far more than any other senator), may be an exception to that rule.
Also expect some attention this interim to prison overcrowding and sentencing reform. In addition, senators and staff will be working to bring together teachers, school administrators and child advocates to identity best practices for safe learning environments. LB147 (Groene) was pulled from the Education Committee and sits on General File. This bill is problematic to advocates because of its provisions on child physical restraint and the setting of procedures to remove a kid from a classroom. Keeping kids in the classroom is imperative for their future success. As some would way, they really do need an education.
Hitting the Wall
But for now, your Capital Fly on the Wall doesn’t need any more legislating. I’m off to find another brick on another wall.
Wishing Everyone a Nice Interim,
Your Capitol Fly on the Wall