The Speaker of the Legislature is pleased with the pace of the legislative session, despite a slow start.
Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk acknowledges the session got off to a slow start, as legislators argued about what rules the session would operate under.
“But, once we started working on legislation and especially with the priority bills, both from a senator’s standpoint or a committee or the Speaker priorities, we’re moving well,” Scheer tells Nebraska Radio Network. “The end’s in sight.”
An attempt to change the rules under which the legislature would operate this session became highly contentious, taking up most of the first month of the session. It ended in a truce with the Unicameral sticking with the rules which it has been operating for the past number of sessions.
That, though, left lawmakers with around 60 days left in the 90-day session; 90 days so legislators have enough time to deal with the next two-year state budget.
Debate on the $8.9 billion biennium budget begins this week and likely will take up the next couple of weeks, leaving little time for regular legislation.
Scheer expects both skirmishes and outright battles as lawmakers attempt to close a revenue shortfall which at one time was projected to be approximately one billion dollars.
“But, from my perspective, only speaking for myself, I suspect what I’m going to find out is that although I may not like a lot of the things that are in the budget, there’s really no alternatives to us,” Scheer says.
Scheer says all bills should see floor time, though all won’t pass. The Speaker shortened the amount of time a bill can be filibustered from the traditional eight to six. In addition, the Speaker is requiring sponsors of controversial bills to assure him they have the necessary 33 votes to cut off a filibuster before he allows debate to extend past three hours. If the votes aren’t there, the Unicameral moves on to other legislation.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]