Speaker of the Legislature Galen Hadley says time is running out on this session and he’s willing to use whatever power he has to move legislation, even if that means confronting Sen. Ernie Chambers.
Hadley, a state senator from Kearney, says he doesn’t have the power Speakers have in other states.
“I can cajole, I can kind of threaten a little bit of where their bill will come up, but in absolute power, I don’t have that kind of power,” Hadley tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
This legislative session erupted in controversy after Chambers, a state senator from Omaha, compared police to the Islamic State and implied that if he carried a gun and was confronted by police he would shoot first and ask questions later. Chambers made the remarks during a Judiciary Committee meeting and claimed police are trained to shoot first and ask questions later.
Several senators called on Chambers to apologize. He has steadfastly refused. Chambers lashed out at opponents, calling them a mob.
Tension in the legislative chamber ratcheted up a little higher when the Unicameral derailed a bill sponsored by Chambers during final reading, an unusual step.
In wake of the defeat, Chambers threatened legislation, even the entire session.
Hadley points out such threats from Chambers are nothing new. Chambers is a master of the rule book, using it to his advantage to kill legislation.
But Hadley is quick to add this year might be different, because Chambers has bills he wants passed. Hadley says the one power he does have is deciding what legislation gets to the floor of the Unicameral for debate.
“He makes the comment quite often that he doesn’t care about what happens to bills,” Hadley says. “Well, you know, if we get down to crunch time, decisions have to be made about what bills we hear.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]