Inside the Rotunda, Week 19

Early Adjournment? 
With the Nebraska Legislature marching through its agenda this session and first-round approval of the budget behind us, the rumor around the Capitol is that senators may adjourn sine die significantly earlier than Day 90 (which falls on June 6). Just when they will adjourn is still a guess, but the rumor of a “significantly” early adjournment has many Capitol staffers in a gleeful mood. For yours truly, the end of session often brings back memories of summer break as a child.  I know the interim is like “summer school,” but I will definitely enjoy the slower pace for a while. 

Last Week
As mentioned above, the Nebraska Legislature passed its budget on first round last week. As part of that, they diverted $50 million from the rainy day fund to property tax credits. That may be the only development on the property tax front this session as the Revenue Committee’s tax package, LB289 (Linehan), was in limbo after three hours of debate last week. Senators Linehan and Mike Groene are still pushing for a deal and looking at possible amendments. Most insiders remain skeptical of its chances, however. 

Last week also provided disappointing news for Senator Dan Quick and his LB424, which would have allowed municipalities across Nebraska to join land banks. Land banks are a tax-exempt political subdivision that acquires, manages and develops vacant and tax-delinquent properties. It provides economic development opportunities for blighted areas. Senator Quick had strong support from the body for his proposal, but the bill was filibustered and he fell two votes short on cloture (a vote to end debate). Three progressive senators were absent for the debate, meaning he would likely have passed the measure had scheduling been different. Because the bill was scheduled for 1:30 Thursday and had already gone through an initial three hours of debate, there was no way to stall for time and push the bill off to the next day or week. Stalling for time on the agenda is a tactic sometimes deployed in close vote counts when senators are absent. 

Still to Come
A few large items still remain on the Legislature’s agenda including LB110 (Wishart), which would legalize medical cannabis, under tight regulations. The Judiciary Committee advanced this priority bill on Friday. 

Also advanced from the Judiciary Committee is LB686 (Lathrop), a priority prison-reform package designed in part to help with the state’s overcrowding crisis

Interim Studies 
With adjournment potentially coming early this session, interim studies will become a major point of focus soon. Interim studies often serve as catalysts for future legislation, providing an avenue for hearings and information gathering. More information on interim studies, including a deadline for submission, is expected from the Speaker’s Office soon. Anyone interested in approaching senators about introducing interim studies should start doing so now. 

Until Next Time,

Your Capitol Fly on the Wall