Mountain lion hunts remain legal in Nebraska.
Yet, fallout from a second vote on a gubernatorial veto of a bill that would ban the hunts could have an impact on the last week of the legislative session.
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha threatened lawmakers with retribution after his second attempt to overcome the veto of Gov. Dave Heineman fell short.
Chambers first asked legislators to reconsider an earlier vote that sustained Gov. Heineman’s veto of LB 671, which would strip authority from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to schedule mountain lion hunting seasons.
Chambers opened debate by stating the mountain lion should be respected, not hunted.
“I have applied the term regal. That means kingly, of royal bearing,” Chambers said. “There are so few of them that there is not even a necessity for Game and Parks itself to quote, manage, unquote, these animals.”
The Unicameral voted 30-17-2 on Chambers’ motion to reconsider, but on the vote to override the governor’s veto, it voted 28-21, two votes shy of the total needed to enact the law over the governor’s objection.
After the vote, Chambers accused some colleagues of lying to him about how they would vote on the override.
“I feel there was a breach of trust and a breach of faith. You all got your pound of flesh. You tricked me,” Chambers said from the floor of the Unicameral. “I put myself in that position, though, by trusting, not completely, knowing that there could be betrayal.”
While Sen. Russ Karpisek followed with an apology, saying that he intended to vote with Chambers, but made a poor split second decision, Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege took offense at Chambers’ remarks.
“He’s called into question my character. I don’t appreciate that,” Carlson told colleagues. “It hasn’t changed my view on Sen. Chambers. I hope that as time passes that he and I can correspond, that he and I can communicate.”
Carlson said he only told Chambers he would reconsider his vote, but Chambers said he took that to mean he would vote to override the veto since he had vote earlier for the bill.
“And I told him that you’re changing, as I had it explained to me because you’re running for governor and you had a lot of pressure from people and you can’t withstand the pressure,” Chambers stated. “That’s what I said to him.”
LB 671 initially passed on a 31-5 vote. Opposition mounted against the measure, though. An agreement ended a threatened filibuster against it on final reading, a rarity in the Unicameral. It eventually passed on a 28-13 vote.
The legislature gave authorization to the Game and Parks Commission to hold mountain lion hunts in 2012 on a 49-0 vote.
Two male mountain lions were taken in the first hunt authorized by Game and Parks this year. One hunter paid more than $13,000 for one permit. A teen-ager won the second permit through a lottery. The second hunt ended when a female mountain lion was taken.
AUDIO: Sen. Ernie Chambers speaks from the Unicameral floor after the unsuccessful veto override vote. [17 min.]
AUDIO: Sen. Ernie Chambers and Sen. Tom Carlson debate after veto override vote. [17 min.]