Legislators return to the Capitol this morning for the last day of the legislative session, postponed so that they could consider whether to overturn four gubernatorial vetoes.
The last day had been scheduled for last Thursday. Speaker Mike Flood of Norfolk delayed the end so that the legislature could react to the governor’s action on bills sent to his desk. Four motions will be made to overturn the vetoes of Gov. Dave Heineman, but much of the talk the past week has centered on two, with the majority of the controversy resting on one.
That one is LB 599, a bill that would extend Medicaid coverage to the prenatal needs of the poor, including illegal immigrants. The governor has spared little in his criticism of the bill, flatly rejecting the arguments of supporters that it is pro-life because it meets the needs of the unborn child, insisting instead that it siphons tax dollars to mothers in the country illegally.
The delay gave time for lawmakers to thoroughly consider their vote and time for both sides of the issue to mount last-time lobbying campaigns. The legislature approved LB 599 31-15-3, one vote more than needed to override a veto, but reports have surfaced at the Capitol that one senator who favored it has switched.
Gov. Heineman told reporters earlier this week that lawmakers need to listen to Nebraskans.
“I know they’re hearing from a lot of people and I hope they respond in a favorable way by sustaining my veto,” Heineman said during a news conference in his Capitol office.
The second vote to earn the legislature Heineman’s wrath was the 30-15-4 vote in favor of LB 357, which would allow cities to ask residents to raise the local sales tax by a quarter to half a cent. Supporters say it will give cities a revenue source for local projects. Heineman calls it a tax increase.
Heineman cautioned lawmakers to carefully consider whether to overturn his vetoes.
“These are votes that will be remembered for a long time,” Heineman stated.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]