Forty percent of the legislative session is complete and filibusters loom ahead

Concealed Carry

The 2023 Legislature is 40% done and what has happened so far?

Not much, if you’re looking at bills enacted into law.

Most of the work is being done in committees now and they are quietly determining what to send to the floor for consideration and in what recommended form.

This is a sharply divided Legislature with a strong and determined conservative majority armed with an agenda and a feisty and progressive, or more moderate, minority that is armed with the power of the filibuster.

Democrats occupy 17 of 49 legislative seats, enough to trap legislation, but only if they all hang together. 

It’s a non-partisan Legislature but the differences on issues fundamentally divide Republicans and Democrats.

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And that translates into rural and urban, although the urban vote is divided and the rural vote is essentially united. Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont is the only Democratic senator outside of the Omaha-Lincoln-Sarpy County metropolitan complex.  

There are 32 Republicans. And the magic number to free legislation from the trap of an opposition filibuster is 33.  There may be many looming on the legislative horizon.

So there is built-in drama ahead.   

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Daylight saving time arrives this weekend. 

With spring following only eight days behind.

It’s March and we can just about begin to glimpse the meadows up ahead as we finally make our way out from five months in the dark and very wind-chilly woods.  

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* When you begin to think the Nebraska Legislature may be dysfunctional, just take another look at the Congress. No contest.

* Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh’s appearance on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC was a vivid reminder that there are really strong women in this Legislature. On both sides of the aisle.  

* Big debate in the Legislature coming on Monday when senators give first-round consideration to Sen. Lou Ann Linehan’s bill to provide state tax credits for donations to private school scholarships.

* Big win for Sen. Tom Brewer as his “constitutional carry” gun rights bill headed down the track at the Legislature with votes to spare. “In the polarized environment we are in, that is a decisive victory,” Brewer said.

* On a Senate trip to the Texas border with Mexico, Sen. Deb Fischer described the leaky border not only as a humanitarian and drug crisis, but also as “a national security crisis,” noting that “you can get a tactical nuclear warhead in a backpack.”

* What if a divided and filibustered Legislature does not agree on specific voter photo ID requirements after voters have placed that mandate in the state constitution?

* Sen. Pete Ricketts has been named the ranking Republican member of the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on clean air, climate and nuclear safety and ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Europe and regional security cooperation. 

* Sen. Suzanne Geist, already doing double-duty as a state senator and a candidate for mayor of Lincoln, is getting ready to welcome her 10th grandchild into the world. And they all live in Lincoln.  

* Gov. Jim Pillen’s interaction with fourth graders who helped name Petunia, the metal pig that greets visitors in the governor’s office reception area, was a highlight of last week at the Capitol.

* Early assessment: There is some ready-to-rumble talent in this freshman class of state senators.

* A huge surplus of state government revenue fueled substantially by federal funds provides a rare opportunity for the state to be aspirational while still being frugal.

* If the Husker men somehow earn a bid to the NIT and host a game — or two or three — in Lincoln before the semifinals move to Las Vegas, perhaps an Elton John song on the PA system can make the case to Keisei Tominaga to stay one more year: “Can you feel the love tonight?”

* And in the football recruiting world: Will he really, really choose Nebraska over USC?  Dylan Raiola felt the love bigtime at PBA a week ago.

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