Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk notified senators Wednesday that 13 state senators have made a formal request for a special legislative session to the Secretary of State.
Scheer read from the letter he received from the Secretary of State, notifying him of the request. It would take 33 of the 49 state senators to agree for the legislature to call itself back into session. Each senator will receive a certified letter from the Secretary of State asking if they want a special session.
If senators favor a special session, they are to return the letters to the Secretary of State.
“Because of my position I will tell you that because many of you have asked me, I will not be returning this,” Scheer told the body during a brief address from the legislative floor. “This is well intentioned from my perspective, but I don’t believe it allows us anywhere near the time and the preparation in order to facilitate any type of solution that may be available to us.”
Scheer says if the effort proves successful, the legislature would only have a two-week turn around to re-convene, not enough time according to the Speaker to adequately consider the issue.
Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon leads the effort to call a special session. He worries opposition from Speaker Scheer hurts the effort.
“I wish he would have just let us move forward and let it be the decision of the senators and not him influencing senators,” Brewer tells Nebraska Radio Network.
What are the chances a special session will be called?
“Well, it’s probably not great,” Brewer concedes.
Brewer, though, has a caution for urban senators: their resistance could fuel a petition drive seeking to place a billion-dollar property tax cut proposal on the ballot.
“They will light on fire that ballot initiative,” according to Brewer. “So, if they want to have the ballot initiative, then by all means vote against coming back here, because the people will have given up and said alright, the second house has to control the destiny on this, because the legislature won’t do it.”
Sen. Jim Smith of Omaha is the Revenue Committee chair who unsuccessfully carried Gov. Pete Ricketts’ tax cut proposal this legislative session. Smith failed to strike the right balance of tax relief to attract the 33 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
Smith says talk toward the end of the session shifted to the consideration of increasing the state sales tax to offset any drop in property tax revenue. He sees that as undermining efforts to get the number of senators needed to call a special session.
“I have a hard time seeing that,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network. “I have a hard time seeing that there are 33 that would want to take that risk.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]