Contentious to the End, Legislative Session Ends


Senators posed for photos, even selfies with the governor. But instead of a farewell to 17 outgoing senators, one lawmaker who will return stole the spotlight.

Senator Ernie Chambers led a final day filibuster, delaying votes as he has done all session.

"I was concerned we weren't going to get to some of the things we deemed important," Sen. Kate Sullivan said she had worried at times.

Chambers denounced mountain lion hunting one last time. Despite that, senators say they met their goals, like prison reform.

"How can we reform it so we're not spending money for people in jail that aren't a threat to the community," Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial said.

Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha said the goal is simple. "To make the public safer by making inmates access to programming by reducing the prison population and we're on the road to getting that done."

They also cut taxes, something the governor praised. Sen. Sullivan was part of that.

She said, "Although some people perceive it as maybe not enough, when you look at the bigger picture and $500 million in tax relief over five year period, I think those are significant things."

They also put money aside to confront water issues.

"This is a bright spot," Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege said. "This is a real accomplishment and I'm real thankful for the support I received on LB 1098 and all the people that worked toward that."

Because of term limits, a third of these senators are done. Several are running for offices including auditor, attorney general, and governor. Add in Chambers, the longest serving lawmaker and likely most knowledgeable, it was a difficult year.

Sullivan said, "I suspect we've had sessions like this before. When it's all said and done, I believe the Legislature got done what it's supposed to get done and that's the most important thing. How we got to that, varies from year to year."

Senators like Annette Dubas and Greg Adams gave emotional farewell speeches.

And unlike two years ago when the governor declined to make final remarks, he thanked senators for enacting tax cuts.