Early Sine Die
The rumors of an early sine die became reality last week as Speaker Scheer announced that session will end Friday, May 31. He also added next Tuesday and Wednesday (May 28-29) as recess days. The condensed timeline means that bills scheduled for final reading next week could be subject to a “pocket veto” because the Governor has five days to sign legislation that reaches his desk and could wait until after sine die. After the Speaker’s announcement on the early adjournment, Senator Wayne took to the microphone to complain about the scheduling. Senator Wayne and others may have bills in danger of a pocket veto, including LB657, which would permit the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp in Nebraska.
Wednesday is the last day for senators to introduce interim studies. Interim studies often serve as catalysts for future legislation, providing an avenue for hearings and information gathering. A list of introduced interim studies will be added to the front page of the Legislature’s website, so be sure and check there later in the week if you are interested.
Education Committee Drama
Tuesday’s agenda will include a motion to pull LB147(Groene) out of the Education Committee and place it on to General File. Senator Groene designated LB147 as a Committee Priority bill, but it has been hung up on a 4-4 split in the Education Committee. LB147 is a highly controversial bill that specifically allows for physical restraint of a child in school and would allow greater teacher discretion to remove a child from the classroom for disruptive behavior.The Nebraska State Education Association supports the bill, while Voices for Children in Nebraska, ACLU of Nebraska, school administrators and others have opposed the introduced version of the bill. Progressive senators on the committee have attempted to bring stakeholders together to identify best practices so the issues teachers are having can be addressed in constructive ways. There may be an interim study in the works as an alternative to LB147.
Expect a tense debate on the floor over the pull motion. A pull motion only needs a simple majority (25 votes) to come out of committee. Insiders think Senator Groene is at least close to the 25 votes needed to pull, but most doubt he has the 33 necessary to overcome a filibuster. While motions to pull a bill out of committee have been happening about once a session, it is highly unlikely that a Committee Priority would be among those pulled. In fact, many think this move could be unprecedented. This is partly due to the fact that many chairs try to achieve a consensus in committee on the designation of Committee Priorities or try to choose more noncontroversial bills that could be a strong vehicle for an omnibus package.
Tax Incentives versus Property Tax Relief
The debate on LB720 (Kolterman), also known as the ImagiNE Nebraska Act, have exposed differences among conservatives in the body between those concerned about business incentives and those concerned more about property taxes. After three hours of debate last week, LB720 was removed from the agenda, but it is expected to return Wednesday. Progressives in the body appear split on LB720, with some attempting to use the opportunity to leverage greater nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community through various amendments. The next three hours of debate will be interesting.
Until Next Time,
Your Capitol Fly on the Wall