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      Challenging Legislative Sessions Nears End

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      With one last chance to grab the spotlight, 17 state senators prepare for their final day making laws.

      Sen. Mike Gloor said, "We expected it to be a challenging session and it lived up to its expectations."

      Thursday brings the end of a contentious session marked by battles over mountain lion hunting and novelty lighters.

      Gloor said, "It's been a challenging session with a lot of people looking for mic time and that turned out to be the case."

      Why were they fighting for the spotlight? About half the term limited senators either are, or were, running for other offices.

      Colleagues say it's only natural candidates would use the legislature in an election year. Along the way, some would say senators wasted time debating mountain lion hunting, novelty cigarette lighters and citizen patrols.

      Gloor said, "That ate up a lot of hours we would like to have back towards the end of the session. Couldn't get them back. Too late."

      Governor Dave Heineman takes credit for $400 million in tax cuts although he didn't get the property tax relief he wanted on farm land.

      Heineman said, "There's still work to be done. I've said publicly, while they made progress on property tax relief, they need to do more. That'll be the job of the next governor and next Legislature."

      Senator Gloor agrees the tax cuts they passed will make a difference.

      "It wasn't what the governor was touting but was, and will be significant," Gloor said.

      Senators also took steps to reform the prison system and enacted what some see as landmark water policy.

      They may have squabbled over mountain lion hunting, but Gloor says they still took care of business.

      "For all the challenges and some of the contentiousness out there, it was a productive year," he said.

      Gloor's priority bill dealt with the veterans home move, but that bill failed.

      However, he thinks the bigger issue of how state facilities are moved is something that should be re-examined in the future.

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