A shot at Gov. Pete Ricketts’ administration comes from the chair of the Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete laments interference from the executive branch in consideration of a package of bills dealing with the Department of Correctional Services, interference that she says nearly derailed the legislation.
“I’ve allowed myself to forget that separation of powers enshrined in the constitution means separation of powers,” Ebke tells colleagues during a speech from the floor. “You and I didn’t take an oath to even care what the executive branch thinks. We took an oath to the constitution which means that we must uphold the separation of powers and act as a separate, equal branch of government.”
Ebke claims the difficulties the legislation faced grew out of her concern about what the governor’s office thought about the legislation.
Ebke changed parties since her election to the Unicameral, switching from Republican to Libertarian. The governor backs a Republican challenging Ebke’s re-election. Despite that, Ebke insists she has attempted to work with the administration’s Policy Research Office (PRO).
Ebke tells colleagues her approach has changed.
“My new rule is this, for however long I’m here: if PRO calls me out to the lobby, my first look is at who’s bill they want to talk about and I’ll go to the introducer of the bill and to the committee chair that brought the bill out of committee, and I’ll ask if they’ve both been talked to. If the answer is no to either one, I will not go out to talk to the governor’s state paid lobbyists,” Ebke says.
Ebke says she sent a text message directly to Gov. Ricketts, requesting time with the governor to discuss the legislation. Instead, the governor sent staff members to speak with her staff about it, according to Ebke.
Ebke says she now will keep her focus on the legislature and the legislative process.
“The legislative branch of government is not being respected by the executive branch,” according to Ebke. “If I am back next year, I will work collaboratively whenever possible with whoever is setting in the northeast corner. But I will not allow one branch of government to continue to disrespect the legislature.”
ADUIO: Sen. Laura Ebke address to the Unicameral. [5 min.]