I read an article in a newspaper today. The author said there are two days in each legislative session where all 49 Senators are friends; the first day and the last day. Despite the huge issues facing us, I’ll hazard a guess that the familiarity we didn’t have last session may produce a little more civility this session.
There is no “majority” in Nebraska’s legislature, so civility is essential. The composition of the legislature makes everyone “reach across the aisle” to get anything done. Every measure that is sent to the governor’s desk is a collaboration between factions, be it conservatives and liberals, urban and rural, big cities or small towns. Hundreds and hundreds of bills are introduced across a two-year session, yet they all boil down to the same very simple math: 33 votes.
Two-thirds of the body is required to end a filibuster so we can vote on the bill question. (2/3 of 49 = 33) Otherwise a bill that makes it out of committee to General File will get three hours of debate and then it is done for the rest of the session unless the author can convince the speaker they have rounded up 33 votes. If so, the speaker “may” put it back on the calendar for continued debate. The “Cloture Vote” (the vote to end a filibuster) is therefore the most important vote there is. Pay particular attention to Senator’s who are “Present but not voting” on cloture votes. I think this practice should be outlawed for cloture votes. “Present but not voting” has its place and is a useful tool in other aspects of legislative procedure – but not a cloture vote.
Property tax reduction has been my number one priority since I was sworn in. I’m working closely with Sen. Erdman and his property tax bill, LB 829. This bill would provide about a 30% reduction in property taxes for Nebraskans. Even though agricultural land valuation has increased 162% in the last 10 years, I’m still not very hopeful this bill will pass the legislature. This is why the people are doing an identical measure for a ballot initiative. Signature gathering for that effort will begin this month. I strongly encourage everyone to support this effort.
I’m working with Sen. Dan Hughes, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee on an amendment, possibly a whole new bill, to address concerns with LB 504, my wind energy moratorium bill from last session. I want to get that bill or something similar voted out of committee. If all that comes together, this will be my priority bill for this session.
I’ve also introduced four other bills so far this session, with a couple more I am considering. The deadline to introduce bills is Jan. 18. LB 752 would prohibit a public utility company from using its right of eminent domain to condemn private property on the behalf of a private third-party. LB 753 would eliminate some unnecessary bureaucracy in the Military Department by changing the National Guard’s Tuition Assistance Program from a “reimbursement” system to a “waiver” system. LB 754 would offer a Nebraska Park Permit for half-price ($15) when you renew your automobile registration / tags. LB 755 would update a 1987 law that prohibits the operation of all-terrain-vehicles (four-wheelers) on city streets after sundown. Fixing this would allow cities and towns to change their ordinances to permit operation after sundown provided the vehicle was equipped with necessary lighting, etc. As it is, state law hamstrings cities and towns from passing an ordinance to permit the operation of a vehicle that almost everybody in the 43rd District owns.
I’ve also got an amendment to LB 499, which was my bill to help protect Nebraska beekeepers. I am hopeful this will make it out of committee. LB 497 helps veterans by changing the law to allow for the automated use of important veteran documents. I’m still working to get that passed into law this session. As the Chairman of the State Tribal Relations Committee, I have one priority bill for that committee we are working on as well. The rest of my bills from last session remain held in committee, along with many hundreds of others.
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; email@example.com. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.