No Big Changes To Unicam Rules, But Senators Limited To Introducing 20 Bills


     The Nebraska Legislature finished debate Friday on its operating rules for this year’s session without making any big changes, including no moves to make it easier to end filibusters like those that overshadowed last year’s session. 

      Lawmakers did approve limiting individual senators to introducing 20 bills per year with supporters saying senators should focus on “quality, not quantity.”

      1,400 bills were introduced over the past two sessions, the most since at least 2008 and about a third more than the average a decade ago.

      The Nebraska Legislature’s unique one-chamber set-up has led to a rare system of requiring a public hearing for every bill proposed. Speaker John Arch has said he worries about the sustainability of that approach if bill numbers continue to rise

       Arch had made Friday the last day of debate on the rules, and lawmakers ran out of time to debate and act on several controversial rules changes proposed by State Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard, chairman of the Rules Committee.

      Among Erdman’s proposals was creating a sliding scale lowering the number of votes needed to approve cloture to overcome a filibuster. It’s currently 33, but Erdman wants to base it how many senators are present and voting

      Erdman, who is term-limited this year, thinks they missed an important opportunity for change, saying “We have run off the rails here. This session is going to be no different from the last” when almost every bill was filibustered.

      Speaker Arch says debate on actual legislation will begin Monday, starting with his own bill to change state procurement policies. Public hearings on bills introduced this year also begin Monday