Legislature adjourns sine die, 15 senators depart

The second session of the 108th Legislature adjourned sine die April 18.

Senators leaving the Legislature due to term limits are: Thurston Sen. Joni Albrecht, Bellevue Sen. Carol Blood, Brainard Sen. Bruce Bostelman, Gordon Sen. Tom Brewer, Bayard Sen. Steve Erdman, Hastings Sen. Steve Halloran, Elkhorn Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, Kearney Sen. John Lowe, Omaha Sen. Mike McDonnell, Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas, Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne and Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart. 

Dunbar Sen. Julie Slama is not seeking reelection and Sen. Fred Meyer of St. Paul, who was appointed last year, has chosen not to run for election. 

In his address to lawmakers, Gov. Jim Pillen said senators should be proud of their accomplishments during the 108th Legislature, which included passage of two “fiscally conservative” budgets, investments in Nebraska’s health care system, improvements to child care access and protection of Nebraska infrastructure from global adversaries. 

He said the Legislature’s decision not to pass a property tax relief package, however, was “unacceptable,” and he vowed to call senators back for a special session later this year. 

“With this Legislature’s failure to enact meaningful property tax relief, we’re behind at the first half, but we’ve still got a second half to go,” Pillen said. “I will call as many [special] sessions as it takes to finish the long overdue work of solving our property tax crisis.”

Additionally, the governor said he would convene a special session to enact “winner-take-all” legislation to end Nebraska’s split system of awarding electoral votes if there is sufficient legislative support.

“Enjoy halftime,” Pillen said in his closing remarks. “We’ll see you again here soon.”

La Vista Sen. John Arch, Speaker of the Legislature, thanked senators for their hard work during the 60-day session, which resulted in the passage of 370 bills. 

“Within those pieces of legislation are good government policies that will grow our economy, workforce and our community, strengthen our K-12 education, provide more support to our families, reform our criminal justice system, protect our valuable resources and improve the physical and mental well-being of Nebraskans,” he said. 

In addition to legislative accomplishments, Arch said, senators also should be proud of their efforts to increase public accessibility to the Legislature. Improvements include the addition of an “easy-to-follow” bill tracker on the Legislature’s website and updates to the online public comment options, he said. 

Finally, Arch praised senators for successfully hitting the “reset button” after last year’s acrimonious legislative session that resulted in prolonged filibusters and division among lawmakers. This year, senators improved communication and worked together to find compromise in order to pass legislation, he said.

“We took the 60-day opportunity to define ourselves as a solutions-focused, problem-solving Legislature,” Arch said, “and for that, Nebraskans will benefit.”

The first session of the 109th Legislature is scheduled to convene Jan. 8, 2025. 

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