The first session of the 106th Legislature adjourned sine die May 31, the 84th day of the scheduled 90-day session.
Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk said among the accomplishments this session, senators passed a strategic and balanced budget and enacted legislation to assist active duty and retired military families, increase government transparency, spur economic development and address ongoing problems with the state’s corrections system.
“Thanks for all your hard work, your dedication to this session,” he said. “It will pay off. The citizens of Nebraska were well served and they will be better off than when we started.”
The speaker congratulated senators on collaborating with other branches of government, most notably on a package of bills developed with the state treasurer to expand access to and strengthen the state’s college savings plan.
“Because of the multi-branch collaboration, Nebraska children will now have a 529 account opened for each one of them at birth … to help kickstart their own college savings plan,” he said.
Despite passing 294 of the 739 bills introduced in an “ambitious” session, however, Scheer noted that several major issues were left on the table.
“It certainly was not all blue skies,” he said.
Two of the most contentious proposals were not brought to final votes this year. LB183, a property tax relief proposal, and LB720, which would create a new business tax incentive program, were subjected to filibusters. Bill sponsors were unable to garner the 33 votes necessary to cease debate on either bill.
“Instead of working together to ensure that both sides could achieve a victory, when one bill failed the other quickly followed,” Scheer said. “In the end, we all walked away empty-handed again.”
He encouraged senators to spend time learning to trust one another before the Legislature convenes next January so that they are able to tackle tough issues during the 2020 session.
“I ask all of you to take a step back over the interim and get to know each other again,” he said.
Gov. Pete Ricketts, in his address to the Legislature, thanked senators for taking time away from their families to serve their fellow citizens. He also applauded their efforts to help Nebraskans recover from the year’s historic floods.
Ricketts thanked senators for passing a bill to provide property tax relief for victims of natural disasters and providing a total of $11 million in aid to the governor’s disaster program.
“Because of [those] efforts, we will rebuild bigger, better and stronger than ever before,” he said. “I know that when you go home, you’ll continue to work to help the people of your districts [to] recover.”
Senators voted 37-9 to adjourn sine die. The second session of the 106th Legislature is scheduled to convene Jan. 8, 2020.