Legislative Roundup, Week 3

Hearings Watch, Budgets and Taxes, and Rules

While the period for bill introductions has ended and hearings are in full swing, partisan rumblings still hang in the balance over legislative rules. Although the Rules Committee previously rejected a change that would have required at least 17 senators to vote no to sustain a filibuster, there is still a possibility that the Legislature could make a change on the floor as early as today. As noted by Don Walton in his Journal Star column over the weekend, if the majority goes that direction, it “would be viewed by the legislative minority as piling on after an opening day in which they were steamrolled on a series of leadership votes.”

Medicaid Expansion

Senator Adam Morfeld has taken up the mantle on Medicaid Expansion, introducing LB441 last week to expand coverage to 90,000 more Nebraskans.

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Legislative Round Up, Week 2

Nonpartisan Legislature

After a tense first week in the Legislature over chairmanships and committee assignments, the second week saw battles over rules and referencing.

The Rules Committee defeated controversial measures that would have increased the bar for filibusters by requiring 17 votes on the floor to sustain a filibuster, rather than 33 to invoke cloture. The Rules Committee also defeated a measure to end the secret ballot for chairmanship votes. Don Walton highlights the events in the Journal Star.

There has also been tension on the floor as Senators debate motions to move (re-reference) bills relating to guns and abortion to different committees. A motion by Senator Ernie Chambers would move LB 68, (a measure that would strip local authority to regulate guns) from the Government Committee to the Judiciary Committee. Similar bills have been referenced to the Judiciary Committee in the past. Also on the agenda is a motion to reassign a bill dealing with abortion (LB 59) from the Judiciary Committee to the Health and Human Services Committee. These battles may seem mundane, but they carry significance because the Government and Military Affairs and Health and Human Services Committees are widely considered more conservative than the Judiciary Committee. Joanne Young details the battles in this Journal Star story.

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The 2017 Legislative Race Begins!

Welcome back to the blog. The Race Begins!

Race for Chairs

Tension, drama and surprises were in full effect last week as the 105th Legislature kicked off its first session. Family smiles and picture-posing were abound as the Legislature convened with the ceremonial swearing in of new and re-elected members. Those ceremonial activities quickly gave way to the serious business at hand, including the election of a Speaker and Committee Chairs. Senator Jim Scheer, District 19, was elected Speaker of the Legislature.

Controversy followed when Committee Chairmanships went in unison to conservative Republicans, as more moderate candidates in both parties were defeated. There were further tensions as the Committee on Committees made their report on Committees assignments for members. The full Legislature accepted the Committee assignments, but not before some conservative members expressed their displeasure with the makeup of committees. Senator Bob Krist, District 10, who was defeated earlier in the week by Senator Dan Watermeier, District 1, said Nebraska’s nonpartisan Legislature was “dead.”

These stories from the Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World Herald highlight some of the first-week tensions:

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