Legislature 'Absolutely' Affected by Political Campaigns


Welcoming back old friends for her final time, it's Senator Annette Dubas eighth and final year in the Nebraska Legislature.

"It's my last first day, it is starting to feel bittersweet," she said.

Dubas was among the first class of lawmakers to arrive at the onset of term limits. Now 17 senators are on their way out.

That includes three running for governor who may feel pressure to crank up the politics.

"As much as people say it won't, I think it will," said Sen. Charlie Janssen, a candidate for governor. "If you look at three people running for governor and I'm in a triangle with two people running for auditor against each other. You've got certain senators that have endorsed certain candidates. We're all human. There's a dynamic there."

Fellow gubernatorial candidate Beau McCoy doesn't think campaigning will influence the session.

"I don't think so. We've had many times in the past members of the unicameral ran for other office. First and foremost we have a job to do," he said.

Governor Dave Heineman downplays the notion he cares about a legacy that includes tax cuts. He is finishing an unprecedented ten year run.

But senators think politics is in part behind the tax push in the legislature.

"Absolutely," Sen. Galen Hadley said. "If you're running for office, you're a political person. I would be shocked if people didn't get up and use this body as a forum."

Senator Mike Gloor hopes the publicity seeking will take a back seat to policy making. But expects campaigning senators to have an impact on filibusters, and number of bills introduced.

He said, "It's going to be a challenge to have this be as productive as some recent sessions."

This is a short, 60 day session and the budget is already set.

Likely issues include Medicaid expansion, prison overcrowding, and problems with Health and Human Services.

Despite the politicking, senators say the beauty of the one–house legislature is it forces compromise.

Sen. Kate Sullivan said, "At the end of the day, the majority of is put our nose to the grindstone, we know we're here to do the citizen's work and we'll get it done."