Tuesday marks the 45th day of the Legislature’s session. That leaves 16 meeting days to complete the budget adjustments, distribute federal ARPA funds, address tax reduction proposals, and fit in as many designated priority bills as time allows.

To get through the long list, the customary 10:00 a.m. start to the week is being dispensed with, replaced with 9:00 a.m. kickoff each day, a shortened lunch break, and afternoon sessions that will extend well into evening, possibly as late as midnight. (All combining to put a dent into Public Policy’s beauty sleep and nutrition regimens.)

Tuesday begins with continued debate on the third budget bill. Each of the three measures have faced eight-hour first round filibusters, for varying reasons. Following that bill will be LB 1024, the North Omaha Recovery Act, and second round debate of LB 939, the income tax rate reduction plan. LB 939 consideration will probably take the full four hours allowed before a Select File cloture vote, as there are amendments pending that would slow its implementation and expand it to include more property tax credits.

The long-awaited debate on LB 1014, the federal ARPA funding bill, is likely to begin Wednesday morning. This will be complicated for a number of reasons.  Senators offered funding requests totaling well above the amount available, so there will be discussions as to which programming merits inclusion in the Appropriations Committee’s recommendation, and which don’t. Debate might focus on whether a specific proposal meets federal requirements, whether it is a one-time project or looks likely to lead to ongoing state funding, and whether it can be fully utilized by federal deadlines. Details on the Appropriations recommendation were released Tuesday morning.

To facilitate ARPA consideration, the Legislature’s Executive Board designated LB 1014 as a Speaker’s Major Proposal. Relatively rare, this mechanism will allow Speaker Hilgers to determine the order of amendments and motions during debate, and, if necessary, limit time for debate on each amendment. This is to ensure that amendments deemed to be most important or pertinent are given sufficient consideration.

Outside of the budget, ARPA, and the tax bill, senators and committees have their priority bills. Of the 106 designated priorities, 38 await initial General File consideration, and 24 are on Select. On the brighter side of things, 23 priorities are on Final Reading, and six have gained final approval.

The outlook?  A lot could depend on how often bills are met with filibusters. So far this session, there have been ten instances where debate went beyond “extended” and can be termed filibuster, as they required cloture motions and votes to proceed. Seven gained the votes to live another day; three did not. Regardless, floor discussion of those measures consumed 62 hours. Even if they skipped lunch and dinner breaks and worked until midnight every night, there are only 240 hours of available debate time remaining in the session. So, time will tell.

Jennifer Creager
Vice President, Public Policy
808 Conagra Dr., Ste. 400, Omaha, NE 68102
Lincoln Office: 402-474-4960

For more information, visit our Public Policy page or contact Jennifer Creager or Tim Stuart at 402.474.4960.

You can read the Legislature’s Update to learn more about the happenings in Lincoln.