Gov. Dave Heineman says he can work with legislative leaders, even those leaders who have been critics of the governor in the past.
The Unicameral began a new session Wednesday. The election of committee chairs raised a few eyebrows. Even though the Unicameral is officially non-partisan, Democrats won some key chairmanships in a legislative body controlled by Republicans.
Sen. Heath Mello, a Democrat and long-time critic of the governor, won an extremely close raise for chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee.
Heineman, a Republican, pledges the two will work together to draft a solid state budget.
“I expect to have a very good and very strong professional working relationship with Sen. Mello,” Heineman tells reporters. “We’ve already talked a couple of times. We’re going to talk frequently in the future. The legislature chooses its leaders and then I work with every one of them. So, I look forward to the opportunity.”
Governor Heineman says it doesn’t matter that the Unicameral has elevated more than a few Democrats to key committee chairmanships. An unofficial tally has eight Democrats, seven Republicans and one independent heading the legislature’s 16 standing committees.
“I’ll work with whoever they choose,” Heineman states. “That’s the way the system works here in Nebraska and its worked very well for us over the years.”
Heineman will outline his legislative agenda during the State of the State address on Tuesday.
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman discusses the new leadership in the Unicameral. [1 min.]