State lawmakers wrapped up a legislative session today that, at times, strained emotions and relationships.
Speaker of the Legislature Greg Adams of York told colleagues during a brief floor speech that if he were to use one word to describe the session it would be the word “difficult”.
“It was difficult, because we took on difficult issues and we will again next session. There are things yet to be resolved and there always will be; always will be,” Adams stated. “We didn’t shy away from them. We debated them. At times, we were emotional. At times, it became very divisive.”
Adams said that lawmaking isn’t meant to be easy.
He told lawmakers to take some time off, get some rest, but be prepared to get back to work. Two important interim studies will be undertaken this year, according to Adams. One will review the state tax system and recommend changes during the 2014 legislative session. The other will study whether the expansion of Medicaid under provisions of the federal health care law makes sense for Nebraska. Neither issue came up for a vote this session.
Still, of the 661 bills introduced, 214 became law. Those are average numbers, according to the Speaker.
“That’s pretty good when you think about the tough times we had on this floor during these 90 days. And there were a lot of times, I will tell you, if somebody would have said we were going to get that much done, I would have said, ‘No, we aren’t.’”
Of the 104 bills designated as priority legislation, 71 became law.
Adams said the legislature came together on the budget, approved a $7.8 billion spending plan for the next two years. The budget is the piece of legislation that must be completed during the longer, 90-day legislative session. It increases spending on public schools as well as provide enough money for higher education for the state colleges to freeze tuition for the next two years.
Adams summarized the session simply, “We did our work”.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]
AUDIO: Speaker of the Legislature, Sen. Greg Adams, addresses the legislature on the final day of session. [8 min.]