SPEAKER SCHEER PRESIDING
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the George W. Norris Legislative Chamber for the twenty-sixth day of the One Hundred Fifth Legislature, First Session. Our chaplain today is Pastor Ed Milligan from the Douglas United Methodist Church in Douglas, Nebraska, Senator Watermeier's district. Would you please rise?
Thank you, Pastor Milligan. I call to order the twenty-sixth day of the One Hundred Fifth Legislature, First Session. Senators, please record your presence. Roll call. Mr. Clerk, please record.
There's a quorum present, Mr. President.
Thank you, Mr. Clerk. Are there any corrections to the Journal?
No corrections this morning.
Thank you. Are there any messages, reports, or announcements?
Mr. President, there are. Your Committee on Enrollment and Review reports LB22 as correctly engrossed and placed on Final Reading. Committee on Health and Human Services reports LB425 to General File with committee amendments. That's all I have this morning. (Legislative Journal page 451.)
Thank you, Mr. Clerk. Senator Harr has asked for a moment of personal privilege. Senator Harr, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President and members of the body. Yesterday we had a Revenue hearing and I want to give you a little background and then I'm going to talk about it. So we had two bills. The first bill was introduced by Senator Smith. It was a revenue tax cut down the road. Senator Smith introduced the bill, he took his seat, he then led the committee. He gave the Governor unlimited time, which since Senator Smith introduced on behalf of the Governor was probably the right thing. He then gave Commissioner Fulton unlimited time. He then said, I'm going to give each side a half hour, proponents, opponents. Now I was confused because I thought it would be...and neutral. I thought we would do a round robin, but apparently it was just one. He then gave proponents approximately 45 minutes which meant proponents had an hour and a half. He then gave opponents a half hour on a bill that by his own admission was a billion dollar tax cut. I walked out of the room after the opponents to go use the restroom. I had four people come to me and say, hey, I want to speak. I said, well, I think you'll get your chance. I was wrong. When I realized I was wrong...well, I did something I shouldn't have done. And for that, I apologize. I probably got a little too angry, and I didn't handle myself in a proper manner. What we do is important, folks, and how we present ourselves to the public is very important. And I screwed up. I do believe the public should be heard, but the way I handled it was wrong. And so to that, I want to apologize to Senator Smith, and I want to wish him a happy birthday. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Harr. Senator Smith, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. I'm out of breath, I just ran up the stairs. I heard Senator Harr's voice. It's tough getting old. But I very much appreciate your remarks, Senator Harr, and I, too, wanted to make a couple of comments about the public hearing last night. You know, I made that decision to run that committee the way I did and it was my intent to get people through so they could be heard in support or opposition before the evening got too long. And I did have people come by the office that had to leave because the meetings were going long and they had to get back to feed their cattle. So I was working with the best information I had to try to get every voice heard. So, if I did not allow folks to express themselves, for that I apologize, but I was working with the best information I had. So, thank you, Senator Harr. Apology accepted. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Smith. And Senator Krist for a moment of personal privilege.
Good morning, Mr. President, colleagues, and good morning, Nebraska. I have never tweeted. I am a twit sometimes, but I have never tweeted. I have never used a twitter account, but it seems that someone thinks that I should have one and thinks that I should look at porn. Now I can assure you and I think making this promise that Senator Brewer will be able to back me up on this, having spent my life in the intelligence community, I will find the IP address that set up the false account. I will make sure that person is brought to some kind of justice, if not just the justice on this mike. I have followed the Tom Osborne formula, an example, real men don't need porn. I will find the IP address that set it up, and I will expose the person. And I'm also asking the Chairman of the Executive Board to use his IT process, the IT folks he has in place to make sure that the rest of you are not exposed to this indecency, this immorality. Occasionally, we get fired up about things. Occasionally, we get stabbed in the back, but that's all politics, and it all happens right here, for everybody to see. Those people that want to put together a Facebook page that makes fun of three senators as they're combined and we've seen that in the past. We've also seen people who have been exposed to these kinds of things. I will find the IP account that set up this account. It's not that difficult. So if you're out there in Nebraska watching in TV land and you're a part of it, stop it. Don't take advantage of the 49 of us. We already take advantage of ourself, $1,000 a month and all you can eat. We do this because we serve our state and because we serve the 39,000 plus or minus three or four thousand in our district and the 1.9 million people across the state. Find some other way to get your jollies. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Krist. Mr. Clerk, first item. I'm sorry, Senator Chambers, you're recognized.
I would like to make a point of personal privilege. Members of the Legislature, I understand...I think I do with Senator Krist is talking about, but I as somebody who knows and I do it cautiously, only how to turn on and off the gadget. I have had more of these pages put up there in my name than I think all the others put together. There are pages, there are some that are insulting, some that are degrading, some that call themselves me. Others that give information about what I do. There was one that even said, what would Ernie do and they were selling t-shirts, sweatshirts, onesies for babies, things for women. They were really selling them, and none of it makes me any difference and I'll tell you why. First of all, after you've been in the world a certain amount of time, you know that there will be things that happen concerning yourself that you can do nothing about. So I adopted as my credo, not my mantra, Popeye gave me the mantra, I am what I am and that's all that I am, but my credo is based on what something Abraham Lincoln said. I'm paraphrasing, but I'll get as close to what he said as I can remember. If I took the time to respond to, let alone read, everything negative that was said about me, I would have to shut this office down because I would spend time doing nothing else. So these kind of things in the technological age are going to happen. I invite people to do anything with me that they please. Jonathan Swift may have been the one who made the comment that if great writers, playwrights, artists, and others in the public domain did not spend so much time griping about critics, future generations would never know they had any. Critics don't exist on their own. They're parasites that take a ride on a host. Not all parasites are bad. They're little birds that you find around rhinoceroses, or is it a hippopotamus? But anyway, they eat ticks and other things off these animals. There are crocodiles which will allow little birds, butterflies, and some insects to drink their tears, and they don't bother them. So we in public office are going to be targets. We're going to be pinatas, and even the law recognizes this by saying that a person in public life does not have the protection when it comes to privacy, attacks made, and other things that a common citizen would have. I do not fault anybody for trying to track things down in the way that Senator Krist is going to try to do. I don't know whether people have linked me to pornography or murder or plots or being an agent of ISIS, or whatever, but how could I stop them? Why should I stop them? This final point. I don't know which one of these pages it was, but I get calls from people in other parts of the country about things they have seen about me on whatever these pages are. But none of those responses have been negative. So I'm almost tempted to find what that page is and read it.
But I've read none of them. I will not read them. It's beneath me in terms of the time I have to waste. And one message I'll give. Some person wrote to me and said that I should get an e-mail or whatever they call it where people can send their silliness through the gadget. I'll never do that. If people want to reach me they can use the telephone and my phone number is in the book. I have an answering machine. That's my bow to high-tech, or they can write me a letter, but that's the extent of it. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, brothers and sisters. Thank you, all of my children.
Thank you, Senator Chambers. (Doctor of the day introduced.) Mr. Clerk, the first item.
Mr. President, under consideration is the motion to adopt permanent rules. The issues have been considered previously. There was a motion to amend Rule 7, Section 10 from Senator Larson. There was a Larson amendment to his amendment that was adopted. There was a motion from Senator Chambers to reconsider. That item is now before us.
Senator Chambers, would you like to refresh us on your reconsideration motion?
Mr. President, I need to be told what that motion is. I didn't realize mine was the first one up.
Yours is the reconsideration carried over from yesterday, if you'd just like to refresh your memory from yesterday in relationship to the adoption of Senator Larson's amendment.
Thank you. Members of the Legislature, there was so much going on yesterday and I was paying attention to some of it. Then I began to digress. What I understand is that this proposal that Senator Larson offered that we were discussing at great length was adopted and the impact or effect of that was not to add it to the rules, it was to take the place of an underlying amendment that he had offered previously. So what he succeeded in doing, if I am putting things in proper sequence, was to substitute for his original amendment this material that he tried to get done by a unanimous consent agreement to allow him to make the substitution. So, what we discussed yesterday was that substitute language, and that is what was adopted. So, we are really no further along at this point than we were when he made his motion to substitute. The rules have not been changed. The extended debate provision remains in the rules. I think it was a mistake to have adopted Senator Larson's proposal. I'm not going to go around and poll the body, as is sometimes done with a jury, to find out if everybody had voted the way the verdict indicated, nor will I call on the senators to ask them any questions. But what was done was a mistake. There will be two shots at what Senator Larson has done to the body or persuaded the body to do to itself. This is the first chance to undo that error. When he attempts...if this is not successful, to finally have his motion to amend the permanent rules with this that he has done, then we'll have a chance to talk it again. There are people, I understand, ransacking the rule book. The one who is the authority on card playing is Hoyle. Some call him "Hoyley" and there's some other book that is supposed to be an authority on legislative or parliamentary procedure. I understand that the pages of one of those or several were being emulated, incinerated, burned, as the geniuses among us find a way or seek a way to have their way. I don't care what the Legislature does, and I have to say that statement is made on two levels. I do care what the Legislature does if what it does denigrates the institution, compromises the integrity of the institution, destroys public confidence in our ability to function according to rational rules. I care in that area about what the Legislature does. I don't care what rules or changes to the rules they adopt that they think will stop me. They continue and by they, whoever that 27-plus the hangers- on and the droppers-away are, talk of an amorphous group of 17. Obviously, none of the 17 would be "Replicans". They've all been harnessed. They've all been given their marching orders. So if what I read in the paper is correct, and I haven't tried to identify who they are, there are 15 Democrats. There is one "Librarian" or "Liberteen", somebody who is not a Democrat nor a Republican, but a tertium quid, the third thing. Then, of course, there is moi. So the rest of you all can do whatever you want to do to each other, but it's not going to have any impact as far as being able to stop me. I looked at the agenda today, and there's some very innocuous appearing bills based on the one liners. But in some cases, I will have to borrow these bills for my purposes, not to kill the bills if they truly are innocuous, but as they come before us and are analyzed, scrutinized, and discussed, I can determine whether or not, from my position, I would support them. I would suggest that my colleagues who may be listening, wherever you may be, you mark well what is done today. There can be a fleeting sense of exhilaration if you can get your way. You ought to look at what it is you get if you get your way. You cannot through anything Senator Larson fronts for, for that also amorphous 27, plus the hangers-on and tagalongs, to get your way ultimately in this body. There are some on this floor who have served with me long enough to know that I will state, as I've done before, what it is I intend to do, ultimately. But as to exactly when and precisely how is for me to know, you to wonder about, and you to suffer under when that time comes. Fortunately for you, you do not have to sit here and go through it. You can depopulate the Chamber and go where you please, and allow people to see that I am the only Senator at work because all the other desks are empty. From time to time because as I have stated before, you all are my children, and I don't want you to be too grossly misjudged. I will point out that you all are somewhere, that you're watching, that you're listening. And if the right statement is made on this floor or metaphorically speaking the right button is pushed, they'll return to this Chamber like swallows returning to Capistrano, only they will be jet-propelled, not just moving here by beating their wings and moving through the air at a leisurely pace. So, this motion is the opportunity to undo what may be done if you stick with the decision that was made earlier. There were 25 votes based on what I read in the newspaper this morning. Will Rogers said, I only know what I read in the newspaper. Let me say I know at least what I read in the newspaper, but there are other things that I read also. On this particular vote, I had not marked in my mind that it was a vote of 25 to, I think, 19.
We know that whoever comprised that number of 19 would include some "Repelicans". I didn't vote. So if all the Democrats...I don't even know if all the Democrats voted. I know the "Liberteen" didn't vote. She's sitting over there acting like she doesn't know who I'm talking...uh, huh. See, I can see her. She can't see me until she turns around and looks, but I'm like Argus. Argus was a mythological creature that had eyes all around its head and it could see all directions at the same time. Mr. President, thank you, and I'll turn my light on.
Thank you, Senator Chambers. Going to the queue, Senator Crawford, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning, colleagues. Good morning, Nebraska. We have before us, friends, a motion to reconsider and here on the 26th day, it's a good time for us to take this pause and this motion to reconsider seriously. We've had a contentious session, and this motion to reconsider gives us a chance to ask who we want to be, what we want this session to be. I've had the privilege of serving here for four years prior to this session, and seeing the way that we can operate when we have strong coalitions across party lines, efforts to work together on bills where those coalitions shift from bill to bill as we find common ground and strong relationships built, personal relationships, and time spent with senators from all backgrounds and all parties and a collegiality to work together and fight hard fights but get things done. And it feels very different this year. And I urge you to consider the importance of a rule change, and to ask whether a rule change of this magnitude that passes by the narrowest of margins is an appropriate way for us to move forward. It's important that we build agreement on our rules, and again, in this case we had an amendment, had 25 votes which is enough to win. So it is true that we with 25 votes if those votes stay together, you can move forward in terms of adding this to the permanent rules, but I'd ask you during this motion to reconsider, to reconsider and ask if that's a good idea. Is it a good idea to push through with a rules change that has a bare margin? What are the benefits of pushing through with a rule change that has only the barest margin of winning, doesn't have broad support in the body? Is it worth that change to continue to push just because you can? The changes in the rules will not change the number of filibusters. It changes the rules in terms of ending a filibuster. But to push through a rule at the barest margin creates a climate that continues to encourage filibusters if people feel that a majority is going to push through whatever they can get passed and the minority feels pressured to use the tools at their disposal instead of having more time and trust to build those agreements and get to agreements where we can without a filibuster. So I'd argue that pushing through this rule change actually is more likely to encourage a greater number of filibusters as opposed to being some tool or decision that would help reduce the number of filibusters. And so again, at this time we have a motion to reconsider, I ask you to take that motion seriously and give some thought...
Thank you, Mr. President...to whether this is the way that you want to proceed. We still have time to reconsider. We still have an opportunity to move through and adopt permanent rules that are the rules that came out of the committee process and delivered of debate that have broad support by the body. And I urge you...I urge us to adopt the permanent rules with the amendments that were vetted by the committee and have broad support of the body so we adopt permanent rules that have that...with those provisions that have broad support and that we wait and not adopt a provision that has only a very narrow margin of support. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Crawford. Senator Chambers, you're recognized.
Thank you. Mr. President and members of the Legislature, the thing that marks the bully is cowardice. A bully will pick somebody he knows or believes is not on a par with him when it comes to fighting. So if a bully correctly picks the 97-pound weakling, kicks sand in his face, humiliates him, then all the bully has done is to reinforce the rule of bullying. What the bully needs to consider is that there's going to be somebody who will choose not to be bullied. So let those 27 behave like the bully in this instance. Let them get their amendment to the rules. Let them amend the rules. Then let them kick sand in the face of an 80- year-old weakling whom they might misperceive as a weakling. It will not trouble me in the least if these people in the Legislature do something that undermines their institution, that shows a disrespect for it, a disregard for what rules are designed to do, and a lack of concern about facilitating the operation of the Legislature as an institution. There was a man mentioned in the New Testament and his name was John and he was described as the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Often, that's what happens when a person with more clarity of vision than those around him or her will come on the scene. That person must be imbued with enough stick-to-it- tiveness, enough intestinal,--I would rather say internal fortitude-intellectual strength to understand the weaknesses that beset most people. And when those who are weak behave as those who are weak, it is no more surprising than when a bully behaves as a bully. So decimate your rules. Gut your rules. Turn things over to this temporary coalition, which I refer as a clack/ clique, and we'll just see what happens for the rest of the session. If this indeed is the 26th day, that's almost a third of the way through the session. We're almost down to what would constitute a 60-day session. Those are the short sessions. I can do those in a full, flat-out sprint. So if Senator Larson, Senator Murante, Senator Friesen, Senator Groene, and the rest of them have their way today, the sun also rises. Tomorrow will come. And as we said in Macbeth, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow...
...you cannot find another person who has been on this floor more of the time than I. You may not find anybody who has been here as much time as I have been. That is a tribute to my staying power, my seriousness of intent where there's something on the floor is trifling and trivial or momentous, profound, and serious, I will be here when that takes place. You all won't. You've already shown me your weaknesses. So, do as you will, but you should think very carefully about this opportunity being presented. Unlike opportunity in the ordinary sense, I knock more than once. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Chambers. Senator Morfeld, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. I rise today to ask that we all seriously reconsider their position on the motion to reconsider. There are very few issues that I am willing to filibuster and take time on. I have taken that opportunity on one issue before, and it was actually a bill that I thought that had more time been allotted that maybe we could have found a compromise and perhaps maybe if cooler heads had prevailed we could have found compromise. That was Senator Ebke's gun bill. I think it was a year ago. But changing the rules that impact hundreds and thousands of bills moving forward in the future is another one of those issues. Would Senator Chambers yield to a question?
Senator Chambers, would you please yield?
Senator Chambers, with this Larson amendment that was just passed yesterday being adopted, how far are you willing and how long are you willing to debate the rules this session?
Until the 12th of never, and that's a long, long time.
Thank you, Senator Chambers. Would Senator Larson yield to a question?
Senator Larson, would you please yield?
Senator Larson, if the rules are debated because of your amendment until day 90...
That's up to you.
That's up to you and Senator Chambers.
That's true. It's also up to you since you put the amendment on there...
No, that's up to you. The amendment to the amendment has passed. It is up to you if you want to continue to talk.
So, I'm assuming you will not pull your amendment regardless of...
Thank you, Senator Larson. So, colleagues, it appears as though we're at a stalemate. And if I were the one getting up here and saying that I alone would take us to day 90, I think most of you may not believe me. And I'm not quite sure if I could take it to day 90 myself. But I will tell you one thing. Senator Chambers can take it to day 90, and I'm pretty sure he will. And given the seriousness of changing the rules and the impact that it has on policy, I think there's a lot of us on both sides of the political spectrum that are willing to assist him to take it to day 90. We have an opportunity with this reconsideration motion to turn a new leaf, to give the body the opportunity to work together under the existing rules and move forward with policies and policymaking that I know is important to all of us and our constituencies. What is also important to our constituencies is ensuring that we have rules in place that protect both urban and rural minority rights. This rule change is shortsighted. I think it's ill-informed. I think it's informed by mistruths. I don't only think that, I know that for a fact given the statements that have been made on this floor that are just factually incorrect. But we have an opportunity as a body and many of us in here that are new and have not seen how this body can work together and be effective, we have an opportunity as a body to adopt the reconsideration motion and move on with the session. If we don't, then we can sit here until day 90...
...and debate the rules. And we won't just be debating the rules. As Senator Schumacher said yesterday, we'll be debating some very substantive issues that will be amended on to the rules that I know that we can all debate for quite some time because I've done it before. Whether it be on LGBTQ rights, whether it be on Medicaid expansion, or a whole variety of other issues that we care about in Nebraska. So I urge you to adopt the Chambers' motion to reconsider and adopt the permanent rules as passed out of the Rules Committee. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Senator Morfeld, Senator Larson, and Senator Chambers. Senator Ebke, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. Every time I touch that. This is going to be sort of a scattered discussion perhaps, but I wanted to get a few things on the record. Yesterday, between the time I came up here and the time that we took the vote on the adoption of the Larson amendment, my office was inundated with over 100 phone calls that were coming from one particular group, special interest group, an issue group, that was trying to make the case that a vote against the Larson amendment would protect the nonpartisan integrity of the Legislature. I have no problem with constituents calling. I do have a problem with special interest groups from Omaha calling, and that rubbed me the wrong way for better or worse. I think it's important for us to take a look at the history of the cloture rule. For most of our history, the Nebraska Legislature had no cloture rule. It didn't come into existence until 1991 and it came into existence in large part because there had been in the previous sessions there had been a move...the only way to end debate was to suspend the rules and there had been an abundance of those. And the problems with suspending the rules is that it's not a priority motion. But this isn't the first time that the effort to move things from 33 to 30 or to 25 has ever occurred. To go back into the records, in 2001, Senator Brashear introduced an amendment to the rule which would have reduced the cloture number to 25. That did not succeed. But then again in 2003, Senator Chip Maxwell introduced a move to reduce the cloture number down to 30. And in both of those cases, it was a result of, as Senator Williams suggested the other day--I don't know if he's here-- but he suggested a behavior problem, not a rule problem. And the incidence that we use the filibuster on anything that we disagree with, as opposed to those things that really have a deep visceral and perhaps logical reason for stopping. Senator Maxwell in 2003 said that his amendment is to change the cloture rule to reduce the number of votes needed to invoke cloture from 33 to 30. He talked about Senator Brashear's reasoning in the two years before and his comment was, we're no longer functioning...a functioning healthy...functioning healthy as a majority rule body. And, unfortunately, I find that's the direction that we seem to be going. We aren't functioning as a majority rule body. We aren't functioning very well as a body at all. But, you know, we have to realize that anytime that we have an effort to change the rules like that, there's a reason for it. Yesterday, I dropped a few trial balloons with some friends. I was trying to split the baby, so it would seem, in terms of the rules. I suggested to a few that perhaps what we could do is we could create a 33...keep the current rules as they are for cloture, but limit the number of cloture votes that could be taken. And then at that point we would then move to a suspension of the rules on any beyond that. That wasn't met with a great deal of enthusiasm. But we've got to remember that in the two years that I've been here, we've had 36 cloture motions; 12 in 2015...
...which was a record, and then last year we had 24, double the previous year. So, we shouldn't be surprised that there are efforts to change the rules when we seem to be...but be unable to limit the number of filibusters that we engage in. Folks, just because we disagree with a bill doesn't necessarily mean that we should be able to go to cloture or to a full filibuster on it. We need to show some level of restraint, save those truly nuclear options, if you will, for times when it is the most critical to our debate. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Ebke. (Visitors introduced.) This morning's cookies that are being handed out are presented to us by Senator Smith in honor of his birthday. Happy birthday, Senator Smith. Senator Chambers, you're recognized.
Mr. President, members of the Legislature, what Senator Ebke did not find in the record was how many of those attempts to change the rules revolved around me specifically and when the editorials were written it was made clear. They tried to avoid mentioning me by name in the Rules Committee meetings. They tried to avoid it out here. Then sometimes a person would become so frustrated that he or she would admit what it was all about. There were two or three senators who would point out that this had been tried any number of times while they were here, that they were aimed at Senator Chambers, they have never worked. One time they put in place what they called a nuclear option and because of the possible fallout and consequences, they never invoked it. And in January of the very next session, first thing, they repealed it. I had something brought to my attention today which shows that oftentimes there's a confluence of good minds when they have not even directly contacted each other. This is February 9. It was called to my attention that February 9 in the United States is stop bullying day. When I mentioned the bullying, I wasn't even aware of the fact that this was the stop bullying day. So I guess I fulfill many things, huh? There was a lady senator here and she used to ask me because she knew contrary to what people suggest, that I would not engage in extended debate on every bill that I did not like. Many of them were beneath my notice because some people thought they had me figured out, but couldn't figure why I wasn't discussing some bills at all, I'd tell them it's a peewee bill, or I would invoke the Loran Schmit theorem. It doesn't hurt anybody, it doesn't help anybody, it doesn't cost anything, it doesn't do anything. Those I had no interest in. Sometimes the house would be almost evenly divided on an issue that was very contentious. Reporters invariably would ask me why I had nothing to say. And one time I decided to create a little slogan that I could use. The king cobra wastes no venom on dead or fleeing things. This bill is dead would be my assessment and that's what would happen. I don't have to engage in extended debate on every bill. That would make me very predictable. Maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing, huh? Maybe it would be. But I'm the freest person on this floor although because of my color, I'm probably the least free person in this country when it comes to the protection of rights and privileges under the Constitution, under various laws, court decisions and even some presidential proclamations. But on this floor, I can do whatever I want to, but this lady senator would ask me, Senator Chambers, I want to ask you a question. I'd say, fire away. She'd say, this is my bill. I know you don't like it. Is it a one finger dislike? Is it a two finger dislike? Is it a three finger dislike? Is it a four finger dislike? Or is it the full fist dislike that you will go to the mat on?
And I'd say, well, I don't know how you differentiate the fingers, but this bill isn't important enough for me to go to the mat on, and she would be happy and sit down. You all are too simplistic in your thinking and you're too simpleminded in your approach. I'm the one that you have to deal with. Even your leader, Senator Larson, told you that I'm the one who could take you to 90 days if I chose to. Suppose I choose to do something else. I'm free to do that. If I could not do what I choose to do, I would not be free. I'd be more shackled than the rest of you all. I can make an observation today, then make a different observation tomorrow. Circumstances alter cases and no two days are precisely the same. You have to be perceptive to see different gradations and be able to recognize nuances which is not recognized on this floor. Did you say a minute, Mr. President?
Actually, it's time now. I did say a minute, one minute ago. It is time now.
Okay. Thank you.
Thank you, Senator Chambers. Senator Howard, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. I want to make sure that I understand the Larson's amendment, so would Senator Larson yield to a question?
Senator Larson, would you please yield?
Senator Larson, for the amendment that we are reconsidering right now, how many votes would it take for a cloture motion to prevail?
You mean the amendment to the amendment?
The amendment to the amendment.
It would take 30 votes for a cloture motion to prevail unless there are 17 votes in the negative.
And then what happens if there are 17 votes in the negative?
The cloture motion does not prevail.
And then we continue debating because cloture is a motion to stop debate?
Exactly, but as we know when a cloture motion fails, that means debate can continue at which point historically the Speaker has always pulled the bill from the agenda.
Great. Thank you, Senator Larson. This is a session that history is not teaching us well about. So my understanding, then, is that 30 votes would prevail on the cloture, but could be usurped by 17. So, I just need to find 16 other red votes in order to keep debating. So the question now is not, do you dislike this bill? The question is, do you think we should keep debating? Which isn't...it sort of changes the dynamics because we're not voting against bills on cloture anymore, we're voting as to whether or not we would want to keep debating. If that's the case, this really isn't so bad. I don't believe in it. I don't support it. I'll certainly help Senator Morfeld and Senator Chambers try to defeat it, but if all I have to do is find 16 reds so that we can keep talking about something and extending debate, essentially that just means that this cloture change gives away the session anyway. So the session is gone if the change stands either way. So with that, I will yield my time to Senator Chambers and see what he thinks.
Senator Chambers, 2:35.
Thank you. Mr. President and members of the Legislature, I think, therefore, I am. I appreciate the time, Senator and members of the Legislature, we again are confronted with what to do today. On a motion like this, I cannot amend my motion, so I only have an allotted amount of time to speak. I don't know if the others are exhausted from what happened yesterday, if they feel that to quote that cliche, Senator Ebke, the die is cast, Caesar has crossed the Rubicon, or if they think that the votes are going to fall a certain way, therefore, it's pointless to carry on. There are any number of possibilities, but I do not care what it is that other people do in determining what I'm going to do. Now this motion may succeed. If it does, then that creates an entirely new and different dynamic as far as everything else goes. It will be a message of varying kinds to varying groups, and various individuals. There was a king who lost a significant encounter, and he said...
...my kingdom for a horse. And without a horse the kingdom could be lost. What I would say is, if I had a kingdom, my kingdom for nuanced thinking. That means that brains are functioning in the way they are supposed to, the way that brains can function if we decide to use our brain in that fashion. We should be able to weigh, evaluate, determine what is the goal we are trying to reach and whether what we are doing will carry us to that goal. Since at this point in the session all I want to do is take time. I am a success as far as what I've laid out as my goal. That is just a secondary goal.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Howard, Larson and Chambers. Senator Hansen, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. Colleagues I rise today and again in support of the reconsideration motion. As I noted yesterday on the Larson amendment that was a razor-thin vote which...and this is my own subjective opinion of that with similar reluctant yes votes. If there's ever a time in which a motion to reconsider is appropriate, it's where a large group is not voting, a large group is no and a razor-thin majority is yes, or perhaps, vise versus, but still we're talking about a razor-thin group prevailing whether or not it's advancing or failing. That's a very appropriate time to reconsider and I do implore people to do like Senator Crawford said, really reconsider and think of that vote. I do have to also compliment...or not compliment, well, compliment and agree with Senator Ebke's remarks and I'm glad she said them. I, last year was briefly, I think confused with Speaker Hadley by an out-of-state group and they thought I personally was holding bills off the agenda. And so my office had a hard time functioning for two days from calls from Colorado and some of our neighboring states before we got that resolved. So, when there's groups who...I can understand that the disruption that...kind of a call to action like that can occasionally have. And I also appreciated Senator Ebke's comments about, I believe she used the term...it's not a...it's a pattern of behavior or something of those natures. And that is something that we can do. You know, there's been times over the years where I'm trying split and look at each individual filibuster. You know there were some filibusters...there was a bill that was filibustered in General File, based on my memory, that because the introducer was not taking an amendment, was not taking an amendment, was not taking an amendment, and then after the filibuster, he won the filibuster, and then finally on (inaudible) to the reflection he goes, oh, yes, there is a rather large area to compromise. And then at Select File, the filibuster fell away because he accepted one of the amendments. There were other ones that were genuinely accidental. I don't know if everybody remembers, but I one time called the question on a bill 15 minutes before cloture, and that was not because the bill itself was going to fail for lack of votes, it passed, but we had just three hours and 45 minutes of things to say on that particular bill. There's some that are that complicated. There are some that are intense. There are some that have that many interested stakeholders on it and so frankly, some of these filibusters, you know, maybe just pushing cloture back a little bit would have solved the cloture vote problem because we were literally just trying to adopt that many technical and sincere amendments to some of these bills. Now, I'll absolutely concede some of them were filibusters and I'll absolutely admit that I supported some of them as well. You know, there are some issues where it is a very intense issue for you as a senator or your district or what have you, and that's something we reserve the right to do. And that's why I kind of find some of the votes for the changing the amendment kind of...kind of amusing. Amusing is the term I was looking for in the sense that there's people who filibustered my bills or bills that I co-sponsored, or bills that I cared about, and they had to filibuster because they had the slimmest of 17-vote opposition, and perhaps they cobbled that together down with some lucky timing to defeat bills that I cared about with passion or about, and clearly had a majority of support. And now all of a sudden after they've prevailed on some of those, this year they're coming around and like, no, no, no, no. The system we won under last year wasn't good enough. Let's do it even better. And I'm saying this as a victim of a filibuster and so just the kind of...there's some amusing arguments there.
Thank you, Mr. President. I also...I also thought it was funny a couple...yesterday, just while we're recapping last year, you know, there were several people who couldn't remember if they had ever participated in a filibuster. I guess maybe we need a definition of participating in a filibuster. I'd be shocked if there was a single person who had voted yes on every single cloture vote in their tenure. Maybe there somebody is and maybe they can show me that, but you know, if you're...you don't have to necessarily be the one making a motions and talking on the microphone to be participating in a filibuster. So I want everybody to just kind of step back and think, you know, you might not remember yourself as the type of person who filibusters, but if you start thinking about, okay, how many times was I "no" on cloture, it might be more than you wanted to admit initially. So with that I would encourage all of my colleagues to reconsider on the Chambers' motion and to vote "yes" to reconsider on the Chambers' motion. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Hansen. Senator Kolterman, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning, colleagues. I think this is the first time I've talked on the mike this year, we're in the 26th day. And as you probably know, I don't like to talk on the mike, but I think we're at a point where we need to start talking about priorities. You know, as I've listened to this go on for the last 26 days, and I have been listening very closely, I think about my priorities and where we're at here today. My priorities involve around three things in my life. It's God, my family, and community. This is part of my community, so this is very important to me and it's very important to the people of this state. I like to think I've had a successful career because I can get along with people, but success doesn't just mean dollars, it means relationships to me. When you want to get results there's way to get results, and that's not just sitting here arguing about frivolous things in my mind. We've had these rules around for years, and they've served us all well. You know, I've listened on the side that people say, well, why don't we sine die and come back and have a Special Session maybe for passing a budget. And right now that's pretty appealing. But we have a lot of important things that need to happen. We need to pass some reform for prisons or help with the prison problem. We have property taxes that need to be addressed. That's a high priority. We have income tax, pension reform, education, TEEOSA, and the list goes on and on. Two days ago, somebody came up to me and said to me, you need to stay with your friends on this issue. You need to stay with your friends on this issue. I like to think I have 48 friends in here, not 27 or 18 or 13 or whatever it comes out to be. I am with my friends. But, my friends, we need to move past all this nonsense. I had a bill last year, LB975. I had 30 votes that I know were solid with me, but we were nearing the end of the session, and I went to Senator Chambers. I knew he was going to filibuster it, and I said to Senator Chambers, give me a chance to explain myself, and I'll pull my bill, and we worked it out. Thirty votes would have passed it, at least through the first General File, but it doesn't matter. I think I still did the right thing. We had three bills last year that were on General File. They were each given 30 minutes. There was a dental bill that I carried, and it got filibustered to death. It would have helped Medicaid young kids get services that they didn't get for a year. It's sitting on General File now, and we've not moving anywhere near it. We had an acupuncture bill, we had a right-to-try bill. So when you see my name up there, you're going to see me not voting, and it's not because I don't have an interest, it's because I'm tired of the nonsense going on in here, and it's going to remain that way. I have tremendous respect for this institution. That's why I ran for my position. To the young people that are in here, Senator Morfeld, Senator Larson, Senator Hansen, I've heard...
...you talk a lot over the last couple of weeks. I'm singling you out because you haven't been around the block enough to know when to quit. Senator Chambers, I've listened to you more than anybody. I enjoy listening to you, but I want you to know it's time to move on. And you've said this before, it's time to hold 'em or fold 'em or move on, and you can sing your tune in a minute. One last thing I'd like to remind you of, though, Senator Chambers. You said it many times already this year, you own us. You might think you own us. I have a lot of respect for you, but you don't own me, and I don't own you. I'm tired of listening to that nonsense. So, it's time to move on. Let's get these bills passed, let's get these rules passed, and let's get on to the work that we were brought here to do. Thank you very much. SENATOR LINDSTROM PRESIDING
Time, Senator. Thank you, Senator Kolterman. Senator McCollister, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning, colleagues. You will look on the agenda this morning and my effort to withdraw LB419 has been on that agenda for at least seven days. That's unacceptable, unacceptable. We're not doing anything and I think people can see that. Senator Howard was absolutely correct. The Larson amendment essentially maintains the status quo. It's not going to end filibusters as we know them because we'll have actually probably more filibusters if we adopt the Larson amendment. You know, I understand the cloture rule is very important to people. We have two groups of equal size battling it out on the legislative floor. What we have is impasse. We're spinning our wheels and it's not doing anybody any good. How about we simply adopt the temporary rules up until the end of the session and fight this battle some other time so we can get to the important work this body needs to do. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator McCollister. Senator Schumacher, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President and members of the body. That may be the smartest thing that's been said all session. Do we really have to fight this battle? It looks like we have come to an impasse. And if you look at the things that have been filed, there is a long, long list of debate yet on the rules, and to what end? I think it should be pretty clear by this stage of the proceedings that unless the body cooperates and has trust with each other, things grind to a halt. That's where we're at now. It doesn't have to be that way. A real, sincere effort was made a couple days ago to try to get past that, and it worked for a short period of time. Maybe it's still going to work. We have really weighty issues looking like a billion-dollar shortfall projected over the next projection period. We heard in Revenue Committee until 8:30 last night that significant farm groups want out of this session something like $600 million dollars in property tax relief. Significant business groups have come up with a package that talks in terms of a billion dollars of revenue cuts over the next eight years, something to a tune after that of a quarter of a billion dollars a year. We've got all the things that Senator Kolterman outlined that are big issues, whether they're with retirement, or whether or not our education funding mechanism is working properly. And those things we should be addressing. The present rules have worked. This fight, brought on by a very small number of people who are very effective at instigating something, is what's brought us where we're at. We don't have to be in this spot unless we will to be here. And maybe, since it seems to work under the temporary rules, at least when we're taking up legislation, maybe that's what we should do, just extend those temporary rules out until the end of the session, let everybody pick up a little experience, make some judgments, maybe the fact that if we misbehave with the filibusters, the rule book is still open to change at the beginning of next year, and this retaliatory action can be taken then. Maybe that will bring some discipline to the body having that hanging us over...over us. We'll lose a couple things. We'll lose priority for the Planning Committee. We'll lose Senator Harr's 72-hour rule by just adopting the temporary rules, but it may be a way for everyone to get some experience, for everyone to work together as we always have on substantive bills and gain some trust, and it just could be a resolution. I'm not quite sure procedurally how we go about making that motion to just adopt the temporary rules, other than maybe just let them expire or get ready to expire next week and instead of extending them out to...
...a week or so, just extend them out to the end of the session. That's a possibility, I...there may be better ways to do that, but that's one way. But this battle is not doing any of us any good. Good people are in this body. Good people have come together, and for some hellacious reason have gotten off to a really, really bad procedural start. Let's reboot. Thank you.
Thank you, Senator Schumacher. Senator Walz, you're recognized.
Thank you. Good morning. I stand in opposition of the amendment to the permanent rules. Why would I stand in opposition to the permanent rules? To be completely honest with you guys, it's because I don't have anything to compare it to. How can I possibly make a decision to change the permanent rules when I haven't had the experience to work with the rules or even understand the rules? Rules that have been in place for many years, rules that have not been challenged before, rules that have worked in the past, and rules that were passed by the committee. How can I consciously push a red or a green button when I haven't even had the opportunity to experience how a process works? I really want the chance to understand the permanent rules as they are before I make a decision. I want to be informed, and I think it's my responsibility to be informed. Freshmen, I really want to talk to you and no disrespect to anybody else, but I really want to talk to the freshmen right now. We have the unique opportunity to think for ourselves today and make decisions based on what we know, not who we know. The first day of the Legislature when we were choosing our committee chairs, I looked around the room, and, as a teacher, I was really, really disappointed. I looked around the room and noticed that probably more than half of the people were not here. And I also noticed that those who were here were not paying any attention to those who were standing up to tell you about their passion, about their experience, and about what qualified them to be a chairperson for a committee. So in that first day, I learned a quick lesson that minds are already made up because nobody paid any attention to what people were saying. And that first day was a disappointment for me. Number one, I found that very, very, very disrespectful to those who were standing up. I distinctly remember Sara Howard finally getting the chance to speak, and her face was just like, "why am I even standing up?" "What difference is this going to make?" But thank you, Sara, for standing up. And number two, you all made decisions based on information that you didn't have. Nobody was informed. They were just doing what they were told to do. I kind of wonder what would have happened if we were all blindfolded and we couldn't see who was speaking, we could only listen to what they were saying. How might that have changed our minds and how might the committee chairpersons been different if we could only hear what was being said, if we could only hear the passion and the qualities a person has to be in that chair's position. How would that have changed things? Freshmen, we have the ability to think on our own, and the people who voted for us expect us to do that. They expect us to make informed decisions.
We also have the opportunity to change the ugly political climate here and perhaps in this country. We live in the middle of the United States where all eyes are on us. We have that opportunity, but only if we make good, informed decisions and work together. Throughout the rest of this discussion, I want you to ask yourself the question, why am I voting to change the rules or any other thing if I know nothing about them, and become informed. Thank you.
Thank you, Senator Walz. Senator Hansen, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank, actually, everybody who has spoken so far today. I've been very pleased and surprised and happy with how floor debate is going today. Obviously, I've been called out on the floor, so that's not necessarily something I always expect to say after that immediately happens, but I appreciate Senator Kolterman's comments. I appreciate that. I know he hasn't spoken much and I know he doesn't like to. Before this session, I didn't speak much and didn't necessarily like to, and I know he called on me and Senator Larson and Senator Morfeld to, I believe, stand down or quit was one of his terms. Well, unfortunately, when we're on two sides of an issue, you can't necessarily both quit. We're going to have one side or the other on this eventually. But I do think in kind of spirit of what Senators McCollister and Senator Schumacher said, maybe a break is in order. We could certainly take a break for a little bit. This session, colleagues, this session has been already this year, I am just getting home more tired and more worn out and with less hair and frankly more gray hairs, and I'm the young one, already this year than my first two years, I think, combined. I, too, would love to get to...move on to the agenda. You know, Senator McCollister mentioned his motion has been hanging out in the agenda. I've noticed one of my bills in General File order has made an appearance at the very last line. I, too, would like to get that. I, too...that is a situation that I've worked with the city of Lincoln on and the Lincoln municipalities on for a lot of the summer, and it's a very, very...been just a long process and I feel that I would love to have the opportunity to explain it and consider it with you. But I also appreciate that, you know, even though we're having disagreements on what we should do as an institution, disagreements that we should do as a body, I made the comment of I'm not sure if anybody who has never voted no on a cloture motion and if we're defining that as a filibuster. And Senator Murante came up and came over to me and said he has actually looked at this. And over the past sessions, I can't believe the year he started, I think maybe 2008, but he said there was a trend in cloture votes, and whether or not you were likely to vote "no" in cloture, sure, it had some on, you know, the conservative- progressive spectrum, but he said the issue that kind of threw that sideways a lot of the time, that he noticed trends about was gambling. If you were for or against gambling, that was a considerable motion on whether or not you were going to vote yes or no on cloture anytime. So with...and that's something this...I know even in my first couple years, that's been some of the things we've seen if some of bills have gone to cloture or some of the bills that have been, frankly, filibustered by people who are friends in many other issues are things like that. And that's something we've seen of, you know, and I think we will continue to see when we have an opportunity to move forward. There are going to be issues that divide us in ways we don't expect, and somebody who is your best friend on this floor is going to come up to you on day 55 and say, actually, I have a big problem with that one. And you'll have to decide whether or not you're going to work it out, whether you're going to move on, whether or not you're going to see who can get their votes faster, but that's how we are. And then two days later, you two will be back to being very collegial, back to being working together on issues and probably have other bills you've co-sponsored and worked on the year. And that's something I hope we can get the opportunity to experience soon, that's something I really relished as a freshman. You know, frankly, as a freshman, I served on committees where I was the odd man out a lot of time. I served on the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee and I have to compliment Senator Murante on how he ran that committee...
...but there were a lot of 6-2 votes, a lot of 7-1 votes in those kind of early days and, you know, we were able to talk about where we stood, what the lines were, and, frankly, have very productive discussions, you know. There were some things that we were able to move forward, move on. I remember, oh, there were some things on the floor that looked like they were on the verge of filibuster, and we were able to be like, oh, actually, you're upset about provision A? Provision A is the one I don't care about, I care about the least. Like, yeah, we'll change it. And it just took that enough debate to kind of focus on whatever was worried about. You know, provision A is the problem but B and C are what I really care about, sure I'll compromise. You don't always get that or always have the consensus of that until you experience a little bit of floor debate. And that's just how our process works and how our process should work. So I'm hopeful we can find some more collegiality in these long, early days. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Hansen. Senator Morfeld, you are now recognized.
Wait. I yield my time to Senator Chambers if he likes it.
Senator Chambers, you're yielded 4:48.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Senator Morfeld. I heard Senator Kolterman. He and I have always been able to talk even when we were at odds on an issue, but he's wrong when he says I don't own you all. He said I don't own him. I never pointed to one person, but maybe I could Senator Larson because I know what he's going to do because I know who owns him and what they have to do. But what is going on now is not my doing. This is being carried on by the "Repelicans", by the 27. I saw Senator Friesen speak the other day for the first time, so it's something that they are doing. They are working against their own interests because they don't like me. That's how I say I've won and that I own them. And even if they get this temporary fix today, it's not going to be forever. If somebody has a tremendous pain and taken...they'll take an opioid, that hides the pain, it masks the pain, but it does nothing about the cause of the pain. I'm the cause of the pain. I am the pain. And you all can win momentarily, but that's all it is, a momentary and a Pyrrhic victory. What Senator Walz said will not be heeded because they use the term dog whistle now to mean that only those who are sensitive enough to hear it will respond to it. You are operating at too high an intellectual and ethical level to be heeded in this body based on what their orders are, and they are acting in pursuit of their orders. This thing that Senator Larson brought was hatched by Senator Hilgers. They got a book called parliamentary procedure. I guess that word comes from parliament and the way they do things. They don't have votes as far as I know which are determined by who does not vote. When a motion is made or anything is on the floor, the outcome is determined by those who do vote, not those who do not. What they're trying to do is simpleminded, they say I'm going to make you vote no, and they feel that they are triumphing. You make the Legislature look like a gathering of fools. Even children, who have their little organizations and they vote, know that the outcome is determined by how many do vote. You don't say if seven don't vote or they are against it and they choose not to vote, they have to put a "no" vote up there. That's stupid. But that's what we're dealing with and I want the people who are dealing that way to know what I think of them and it does make a difference because some of their people call me, and some of the things they say would probably shock you all. You'd have to take an aspirin or something, but it just lets me know that I'm striking near the nest. Whenever the vipers are hissing, the louder they hiss the more successfully and the closer I'm striking to their nest, so I tell them hiss on. Somebody used the term stalemate. That comes from chess, as most of you all know. Nobody can make a move. Nobody can win. Nobody can lose. It's like a draw that they finally call. It's a point where nobody can make a move. That's what "stalemate" means. You're at loggerheads. You all talk about robocalls. Governor Ricketts and the "Repelican" party were making robocalls when we were discussing the death penalty, and they were told, mention to these people that those who vote to abolish the death penalty are lining up with Senator Chambers. That's what the robocalls were saying. They're being said to the senators and to others, playing the race card.
And then they want to say they're not racist. Their actions speak louder than their words. Now, I had said that taking time is my secondary goal. My primary target, my primary goal is to reach the point where the Legislature will regain its senses and function like a Legislature. Keep the rules as they are with reference to extended debate, and I've had bills that were...they were filibustered because the people doing it didn't know anything. If they're intelligent, whether I agree with them or not, that is extended debate. It has happened on my bills, and I've never said change the rules. That's a part of being here. And going according to the rules is the way the game is played. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Chambers. Senator Williams, you are now recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President, and good morning, friends, and good morning, Nebraska. I'm standing here today not to talk about the rules, I'm standing here to say some special words about a former senator that represented my legislative district, Jim Jones, from Eddyville. Jim served in the Legislature from '95 to 2006, and Jim lost his wife yesterday, Pat Jones from Eddyville, at 84 years old, passed away at home. She will be buried next Monday at Fort McPherson National Cemetery. And in the midst of what we are doing and the important work that is in front of us, I would ask that each one of us take a moment to think about those things that are even more important than what we are doing here. Faith, family, and friends. So please keep Senator Jim Jones in your prayers and your thoughts, as this is a tough week for the Jones family with Pat's death. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Williams. Senator Pansing Brooks, you are recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. Well, I just wanted to get on the record, because I think this is such a shame, such an abysmal state of affairs for our Legislature that I have been so proud about when I go to meetings across the country. People want to understand how our Unicameral works, and it has worked, it has totally worked. As of...I looked up and tried to find the information regarding what happened my first session here, and by this day on my first session we had...there were 20 bills on General File. We currently have 87 bills on General File. We had 20 bills on Enrollment and Review. We have zero right now. We had 23 on Select, then Enrollment and Review, for engrossment, we had 25. We have one right now on that. And on Final Reading we had nine bills. So that was a total of 34 by this point. We've got two. Let's see. It was just working terribly that first year in 2015. I don't get what it is that people think wasn't working. It's so disappointing. And to toy with something as precious as our unique and productive Unicameral, I just don't get it. I'm so surprised, because this is led by people who want less government. I would think that meant less laws, certainly less bad laws. Certainly that would mean more laws where we could work together and make a decision that was positive for the state, yes, listening to various voices. I know that's really scary. That's something we learn in law school: be able to argue both sides of an issue, be able to look at both sides of an issue, be able to work together and mediate with one another and find something positive for both sides of an issue, not try to gut and skin alive one side. That is not what's best for our state. And, again, I cannot tell you how surprised people are about our ability to work with each other, our ability to find common ground. I don't know how often I need to say this, but I guess I'll just keep saying it. I have worked with all sorts of people in this Legislature. It's not just one group. And, yes, I came in here with some certain ideals that I know some other people believe in. I am a strong advocate for LGBT and the ability for people to work based on their qualifications and not based on the person that they love. I am a strong advocate for women's healthcare and for women's rights. I know who in this body also believes that, and I will work with those people on those issues. But I'm also...my husband and I have a law firm that does mostly corporate and business law.
So guess what? I can understand a lot of the arguments of the people who are probusiness and working to grow the state. So I can work with people on those issues. And it doesn't mean that I'm only working on battling for people in the margins of our society, which is something I really do care about. I care about poverty. I'm going to fight for people who don't have enough to be able to feed their kids. I'm going to fight for public education because I believe in public education so much. I was educated by the public schools, my family was; my mother was on the school board for public schools. I will fight for public schools. I think a lot of people in the western part of the state want public schools and don't believe that we can afford to siphon off our precious state dollars to all the different interest groups that want to...
...put their foot into educating our children. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Pansing Brooks. Senator Crawford, you are now recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. I rise again to...or just to reconsider, as we have the reconsider motion up. I do know there continue to be conversations about a way forward, and so I do want to note that that is happening and people are taking seriously the issue of trying to move forward. And again, I think, as I've said before, we have permanent rules proposal that has other amendments that were vetted by the committee process, and those amendments that were vetted by the committee process and debated here on the floor are changes for which there's broad agreement and support, and I think that's valuable. If you have your rules, it's valuable to have broad agreement and support on the way, the path forward. And it is challenging to the body if there's a rule change that's made that's passed by a very narrow margin. Obviously you can pass something by a very narrow margin, but I think in terms of assuring that there's a good path forward for the body and good working relations for the body, it's valuable if there is agreement on rules and a good path forward where there's broad agreement, as opposed to a rule change that is pushed through by a bare majority that then, again, doesn't really have that support and legitimacy. And one of the key features that makes rules work is if they have legitimacy and if people are on board with those rules, and so that's why I think it is a mistake to push through a rule change that just has a bare majority of support, because it's important that we work and identify ways to move forward with rule changes that have broader support and, if there are changes that need to be made, that we find a way to come up with those changes so that we can build that support and not push a change simply because we have 25 votes to do so. And, as I said, I know it's frustrating for people who may be watching, paying attention, to see us still engaged in this conversation, but it is the case there are still people working, talking, and trying to get past a stalemate. But I think this motion to reconsider is an important window for us to reconsider, and I hope that we are able to move forward and really make sure we're moving forward with those changes that have wide support, broad support, and not push changes that are supported by a bare majority of the body in this case. And so, again, I urge my fellow members to take this pause, reconsider what are the changes we want to make in our rules, and let's move forward with permanent rules, with changes that have broad support, and I hope that we're able to do that and do that soon so that we can, following those rules and under those permanent rules, get back to many of the bills that we have on our agenda and get an opportunity to work together on those issues.
Thank you, Mr. President. I do think we're going to have an opportunity to get back to working together if we can move and adopt permanent rules with provisions that have broad support, and that will lay the foundation for us moving forward and building broad support and having the discussions and debates that we need to have to move forward on many of the issues that we have before us and many of the bills that people have worked so hard to build support for. And so I look forward to getting to that...those debates and discussions, and look forward to working with folks from all backgrounds, and as we work on those bills, and I do believe we will be able to do that and function effectively and get those things done if we're in a parameter, you know, of rules that have pretty broad support. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Crawford. Senator Kolowski, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. I also stand in support of the members that have talked earlier fighting this reconsideration. I hope we'll be able to move on and make some great progress in the days to come that will get us where we want to be. I want to thank Senator Walz, Senator Pansing Brooks, Crawford, and others for both their heart and eloquence that they spoke to this morning about this place and how important it is to get our work done to represent to the people of Nebraska, to make a difference for our state. I also want to remind people I've had nine now, nine straight years of working with Senator Chambers, more than anyone else in this body. The work over the years that I've had with the Learning Community, with Senator Chambers--and Senator Wayne was on that committee as well--have been productive. When he talks, I can only tell you I hope you're listening. You're going to be missing something in the big picture of things if you don't truly home in and listen carefully to where Senator Chambers is coming from. He knows in our relationship, when I was chair of the Learning Community and working in this body as well, the things that he's willing to share and the care, the caring that he has about this place is the heart and soul of where Senator Ernie Chambers is coming from. People use different terms in talking about owning him or his owning us and all this back-and- forth. I just kind of chuckle at all that, because I know he owns the process. He knows the process here. He knows how to get things done, how to get things tied up, how to make progress and be productive as a body. And I hope collectively we can all learn from that and apply the things that we all know and want to do to make a difference, understand how much he cares about this place, as I care about this place, as many of you have spoken that you care about this place, that we get productive and do the things we're here to do. I hope we can continue in a positive way to make a difference, and I hope we can make that difference in this session for the state of Nebraska. I'll yield the rest of my time to Senator Krist. Thank you.
Senator Krist, you have 2:00.
Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning, colleagues. And again good morning, Nebraska. I will take these two minutes on a separate subject and then I'm punched in for my own five-minute period that I will elaborate on some other comments. I don't believe, again, as I said on the mike several times, that demonizing your opponent is the way to get to a point of winning or losing; however--I don't mean this in a demeaning way at all--when we have heard the comments we have heard as of just late from freshmen, from brand-new senators, I want all of the new senators to ask yourself a question. Have you ever had a death threat? Have you ever had a tough vote, either in your prior life...
...on the education boards that you were on, or on the county commission? Have you ever had hundreds of e-mails on different sides from your constituents? Have you ever had to make a tough decision, green or red, on the mike? I want you to think about what Senator Larson proposes that you do, because he will be taking away one of the options, voting green for, voting red against, or abstaining from vote if you're here, or having your vote counted if you're not here. Think about that. And I'll elaborate on my own time on the mike as we go on. Thank you.
Thank you, Senator Krist and Senator Kolowski. (Visitors introduced.) Senator Krist, you are recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. Again, I will continue. You will find yourself at points where you are confused and, quite frankly, looking for answers. Your research will tell you one thing; your gut will tell you another. The citizens that you represent will be clamoring and pulling you in different directions. And then there will be the death threat either against you or your family. It's going to come. That's the job that you have. It's happened several times to me in the eight years that I've been here. You cannot group think the process. You have to reason through the things that you know; and the things that you don't know, you need to gather the information. I think the old saying is a well-educated man knows about 60 percent of what he needs to know, and he knows where to find the other 40 percent that he doesn't know. The percentages may change. The point is we don't all know everything that we need to know to make a decision. I said earlier this week I see no compelling reason to change the rules that we've been operating under. Now, if the 17 new, or 18 new people, I guess, after having some experience that you can draw back on decide that they need to be changed, the Rules Committee can form at any time, and I would suggest in the interim that you think about how the session has gone, if we ever get to tough debates and stop talking about rules, and that you look at changing the rules if that's what you want to do. I don't think you have enough information to do that right now. I wasn't here yesterday. I didn't have the pleasure of coming to this beautiful building and serving because I had a family issue I needed to take care of. But I can assure you one of the most helpless feelings is sitting watching live streaming of you all talk and not having a green or red button or, particularly, the button that signifies that I would like to say something. I invite you to take advantage of that sometime, all for the right reasons, just sit there and look at it, or in your office and look at it if that's what you choose to do. It's frustrating, it's complicated, because there are things that are going through your mind that you wish you could convey. But the other part of that is you miss what's happening around you, the negotiations that are going on under here or over there. You don't see all that. So you have missing information. Senator Williams, I think, said yesterday--I won't...I'll just paraphrase--you may not know enough to make a good decision at this point, you've never made a tough decision. That's the theme of what I say today, what I'm saying right now. I can't imagine myself going into several of the debates that I have experienced over these years my first year, and knowing definitively the way that I should come down on the issue, because even today I don't know definitively sometimes where I'm going to come down on something without the proper amount of study and without asking experts. We need to get on with the business of the state, with the business of Nebraska, and we need to stop talking about rules. Again, I see no compelling reason to change the rules... SPEAKER SCHEER PRESIDING
...from where they're at right now. I don't know if I'm going to get back up and talk about this again. I think that we've said everything we need to say, and I made mention of it earlier in the week. At this point I think we could just stand up at the first of the day and say question, question, question, question, because I think everyone has said everything they're going to say on the issue. Please just consider leaving the status quo where it is. Stop drawing the line in the sand and saying this is where I am, this is where you are and we need to change and go one side or the other. Let's just leave the rules the way they are. There is no compelling reason to change them right now. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Krist. Senator Schumacher, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield my time to Senator Chambers.
Senator Chambers, 4:55.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, "Professor" Schumacher. Members of the Legislature, Senator Walz, I feel your pain. Look around the Chamber now. See all the empty seats? That's the way it goes around here. When we get down to the real bones, marrow, muscle, blood, nerves of an issue, they're gone. Where are the chairpersons? They're the ones who should be here if anybody is here. They were supposedly voted into those positions based on their leadership ability. They have followership. They are out there getting their orders someplace now. To show you all--and you have to take my word for it, which means you probably won't--every Speaker, with the exception of our latest Speaker because we haven't reached the point where that kind of relationship had to develop, I was the one that the Speaker would come to, to facilitate what needed to be done on this floor, and he knew that I'd find a way to do it. I offered the reconsideration motion this morning because everybody needed time. We're talking now based on a motion that I offered, and I offer things for a reason. And it's not always what it looks like on its face. We had reached a stalemate during one of the legislative sessions, and it was a stalemate because I was against everybody and everybody was against me. We had at that time what was called consent calendar: bills that had no opposition in the committee, they were deemed noncontroversial, and some other doodads added to it which would not take a lot of time to debate. Each was given 15 minutes. If at the end of 15 minutes the person whose bill it was, was not closing, then everything would stop and a vote would be taken. They came to that way of doing it because if I didn't like a bill or I was upset about something, I would run out the 15 minutes on every bill, and none of them would be dealt with. So we had reached that impasse, and the Speaker told me: We need some of these bills, what can you do? I said, why do you think I would have something to do? And you have to take my word for it. He said, because you always have something to do. He had watched me and had seen what I do. I have a track record. You all don't. You couldn't even be chairmen if you didn't get involved in a deal. I've always been the outsider because I have creativity. So here's what I did. I went around to some of the people that I got along with the least, and they had a bill on consent calendar. I said, I'll tell you what we're going to do if you agree, I'm going to make a motion to move all of the bills on consent calendar to Select File, on one motion, on one vote. They said, well, can we do that? I said, I'm saying that that's what we're going to do, and if you agree, we're going to do it. And guess what happened? They agreed. And the first and only time in the history of the Legislature, over...well, several dozen bills were moved on one motion on one vote. I've had Speakers come to me and tell me that things are about to spiral out of control but some of the senators on different sides are talking, will you carry on the debate long enough...
...for them to do what they're going to do. I said, well, you know that I'm not going to have enough time. He said, I've already lined up people who will give you their time and that's the way I cooperated with Speakers. I could do things they couldn't do, because they were not so simpleminded and petty that their dislike for me interfered with them seeing that the business of the institution was carried on. You've heard me say that over and over and over, and I mean it and if you take the time to read it, I'd give you all documentation of how many times I've done it, and I'm trying to do it now. But there are too many new people who came here having signed oaths and sworn to do certain things a certain way, and they cannot get free and do what's right. So we're just going to have to take the plodding, step-by-step method, and I'm willing to do that. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Chambers, Senator Schumacher. Senator Morfeld, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First I just...I want to rise and commend Senator Kolterman's comments. I have a great deal of respect for Senator Kolterman. I have a great deal of respect anytime he speaks, which he rarely does but when he does, I listen. I also want to note that as a young Nebraskan, I feel as though in many ways I have a lot more to lose than a lot of the people in this body because, unless something unfortunate happens to me at an early age, I'm likely going to be around a little bit longer to see some of the impacts of the decisions that we make here. And so I think I have just as much at stake and that, in fact, I take the responsibility that I have here very seriously. I would also note that this is not just being led by myself and Senator Larson. I know for a fact because I've been in the negotiation rooms with people that it's Senator Larson and several older members of this body, and then of course Senator Chambers, who has been around since the Capitol was built or something of that nature. But I just...I wanted to get up and first say that I support Senator Kolterman's comments and I have a great deal of respect for him. That being said, as a young Nebraskan, I think we need more young Nebraskans here and I don't think that my decisions on this floor in this body, representing my constituents, should be any more or less valuable based on my age. With that being said, I want to let that lie and just make that comment and I'd be willing to yield the rest of my time to Senator Chambers if he so chooses to use it. Thank you.
Senator Chambers, 3:10.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Senator Morfeld. Considering whether I would take time is like asking an addict who is in the throes of withdrawal does he want a fix. All the time I can get I will make use of. I understand what Senator Morfeld and others meant when they praised Senator Kolterman's words. But I listen to everything. I'm constantly learning. I learn from everybody. He didn't take the right approach. I have to start with the one you all pray to every morning: Jesus. He said, I would that you were hot or that you were cold, for if you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth. Yea or nay, but silence is lukewarm and you're spewed out. I'm not the one who says I'll just sit because I'm upset with what's happening or I'll go in my office because of what's happening. I stay here because that's why I came here. I will spend every minute of every day that we're in session doing the job that I was sent here to do and I'm paid to do it. We're not paid well but we are paid to do it. I have been here every day and listen to you all whine and gripe about how slowly we're moving, how hard things are, then I look around and seats are empty. And I'm the one who can look around because I'm always here. The watchman is always here. The sentinel is always on duty. Argus sees everything. There was another god called Janus, a face on the front of the head, a face on the back of the head. And that is why you have the month of January. It connotes the future and the past and Janus could see both at the same time. There is a lot in mythology. All of these things that human beings come up with, even though they're based on superstition, have their roots in something that is very profound if we look at it. But I think some of the things Senator Kolterman...
...said would probably resonate with everybody except me. He gets tired of the foolishness. What do you expect when you're in a body where there are a lot of those who engage in foolishness? I don't expect things in the Legislature to run smoothly. Shakespeare said the course of true love doesn't run smoothly. Somebody you love you'll give your life for. Jesus said that greater love hath nobody than he'll give his life for his friends. You'll give your life for love. But that course doesn't even run smoothly. So when you're like me, you have all these fractious children, all my children. Senator Brasch, look at your godfather when he's talking to you. Thank you. I look at all my fractious children. I cannot leave you to your own devices because I should be an example, not just tell you what you ought to do, not just lecture you but show you by what I do, the way I think the job ought to be done. That doesn't mean you're going to follow it, but you'll never be able to say...
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Senator Chambers, Senator Morfeld. Senator Harr. Is Senator Harr on the floor? Do not see him. Senator Hansen, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. Colleagues, I again rise in support of the reconsideration motion and in underlying opposition to the two Larson amendments. This wasn't part of my prepared remarks but it popped into my mind when Senator Morfeld started off...
And, Senator Hansen, excuse me, but this is your third at the mike as well. I apologize.
Not a problem. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Senator Morfeld got up and was taking about the kind of age dynamic and possibly the connection between him and Senator Kolterman and he used the word "commended," which just...I have to share it, forgive me. My grandfather, whenever he sees something of mine--he doesn't watch the Legislature but he reads the Omaha World-Herald very often--and whenever I get mentioned or whatever, he...the next time I see him he always goes up and said, oh, I saw the quote about you in the paper, you should be condemned. And then he gets a wry little smile and says, did I say condemned? Oh, I mean commended, commended, commended. So that's my grandfather's joke for the day. I'll save the one with the penguins at the zoo for another time. I do rise in continued discussion of how to do...how kind of this body has worked in the past, including cloture counts. I know that this is kind of an opportunity to hear. We're basing a lot of potential changes this year in our permanent rules, since we've gotten so few bills done, on kind of experience from last year's which, you know, for me, I only have two years of experience. I know Senator Chambers has 40- some. I know other people are at six and whatnot throughout the body. We're kind of all scattered. But I wanted just to kind of make sure we talk about and think about kind of different options and different ways filibusters or debate on the floor has gone. I know I've mentioned on the microphone earlier today that there was a time last year where we were getting close to a bill in which we were frankly doing too much on the floor and just...we had a couple amendments that we wanted to do. One was a cleanup amendment. I believe one was attaching another bill. And just in the normal course of debating those, that went close to a filibuster and we did have to pay some attention to that and realized...I think the cloture vote would have been fine but it was very easy to just kind of get the amendments adopted, move on, wrap up discussion, call the question, move on. And that's something we could just be mindful of. You know, there's going to be a lot of times where that floor debate is very, very beneficial. I know sometimes we're a little too quick to accuse somebody of wasting time on a microphone, and I know I'm guilty of that, probably both wasting time in people's minds and accusing people of wasting time, so I take this with a bit of self-reflection. But there are a lot of times in which floor debate, people getting up and speaking on the microphone, does change the course of the body, does change minds, and I really support and think that's important. You know, and frankly sometimes it's just what you have to say, just what you have to get done. I think of actually a bill Senator Schumacher brought dealing with Medicaid expenses and long-term care last year on the floor that was something that ultimately hit a cloture vote and failed. And we heard a similar bill again in committee this year in Judiciary Committee. And Senator Schumacher gave what a lot of people considered the longest opening of a bill I've ever heard. Personally I think it was second to another Schumacher bill about his constitutional amendment on gambling a year ago in General Affairs. Weâ€™d have to go run the numbers to see what was longer.
But the consensus was, of the committee members--and I know one of them spoke in the committee--it was like, wow, you know, once you take the full 45 minutes to explain it, it makes sense. That's kind of some of the issues we deal with here in the body and sometimes where, you know, things are extended debate, things are at risk of hitting a cloture motion, but they're not necessarily being filibustered. There are some things that frankly, just to get it through what's happening, what the implications are, it takes a lot of time. I think unfortunately some of the filibusters last year, what we're calling filibusters, cloture votes last year, were frankly that, is we had that many opinions on the tax structure of the state of Nebraska, liability thresholds, and just took that much time to get to that result. So I would caution to think that some of those last year where it maybe could have been headed off just by, I don't know, more discussion, you know? I don't necessarily want to raise the time limit...
Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Hansen. (Visitors introduced.) Senator Harr, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you for recognizing Ms. Berg. She is also the mother of my LA, so I appreciate the recognition. What we're talking about today, a motion to reconsider on Larson's amendment, folks, we have to figure out what direction we want to go in. And sometimes making legislation is like making sausage, as the old saying goes. You don't want to see how it happens. We're working on it, but I think it's important that we remember we are a young body, and so we're going to have some growing pains as we go along. I think this is one of the growing pains and I also think that it's good for us to have this conversation to realize why we do what we do and what are the beliefs of the body and how did those who came before us come up with the ideas and the compromises that they did. We've had no filibuster for a long time. Thanks to Senator Chambers, we got a rule on filibusters in about 1990. Prior to that it was cloture, right? And so that wasn't a priority...or, excuse me, there was suspend the rules. It wasn't a priority motion and it took 30 votes, but they decided we needed something to move it up a little quicker because he was able to keep debate going much longer than eight hours, which is the current rule on General. So we came up with cloture. I've asked NCSL to research what do other states do. I know what the U.S. Senate does as far as 60, used to be 66 in the glory days of the U.S. Senate. Now it's down to 60 and they seem to be doing really well. I don't know what other states do for cloture. I know there are a number of states that do it. I don't know what the requirement, if it's 60 or 66 percent. I will get that information for the floor. But we have to think about what we're doing. Why do we want to change the current process? Well, because we're worried about filibusters. Okay, that's fine. We're worried about legislation being delayed. Okay. We're worried about my bill not getting a hearing date, whoever "me" is of the 49 of us. But guess what we're doing here today? We're not talking about legislation. We're not talking about bills. We are spending time so we don't have to spend time spending time. Think about that. Are you sacrificing this session and what is the endgame that you want? Is it to move the state forward in a collegial manner, in a way that forces everyone to come to the middle? If that is your goal, if that is your aim, then you want to keep it at 33. If you want to jam it down someone's throat, my way or the highway, then, for goodness' sake, lower the amount. And today you may be in the majority, tomorrow you may not. Yesterday I asked all the members of the senior class, I said--well, except for Senator Krist who wasn't here, who I don't see right now--have you participated in a filibuster? And to a "t," every person agreed they had. So you will at one point in your legislative career, more likely than not, be on the, quote unquote, minority side of a filibuster. And think about what that means when you are. What do you want the rules to be?
Thank you, Mr. President. Do you want people to come and negotiate with you or do you want them to just run roughshod over you? That's the question we're asking ourselves. Those are the fundamental questions. How do we want to be a debating and deliberative body? And I don't know what the answer is. I know what I'd like to see but I'm not sure. Each one has to make that decision for themselves. And those who have been here for awhile, think back on bills. If the idea is to, you know, if the idea is that I want to be able to get my bill passed, fine. But there are ways of slowing down this body besides the rules. Senator Larson right there gave us a prime example yesterday with his dry beans bill. He ran 43 amendments. He ran it almost eight hours on...introduced, he did not pass, introduced 43--I apologize--amendments.
Thank you, Senator Harr. Senator Bolz, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. I had wanted to discuss further Senator Kolterman's idea. Is Senator Kolterman on the floor?
Senator Kolterman. Yes, he is. He's behind you. Just a second. We'll leave him time to get to the mike.
Senator Kolterman, would you please yield?
Thank you, Senator Kolterman. I find your idea and your proposal intriguing. And forgive me, I was downstairs in the Fiscal Office when some of the debate on the floor happened. So will you just briefly tell me what your perception of some of the benefits of extending the temporary rules for a period of time might be?
I didn't suggest that we extend the temporary rules.
Okay, maybe tell...
I...my goal was to get...let's get past all this one way or another.
One way or another, okay.
Let's start prioritizing what needs to happen on this floor.
I see. And so you didn't bring up the suggestion of extending the temporary rules.
No, I did not.
Okay. Senator McCollister made that suggestion. Well, I find the idea of extending the temporary rules for a period of time intriguing, whoever brought it up on the floor. I think some of the benefits might be able...be for us to be able to keep working and keep thinking and showing each other that we can work together as a body. I think I've said on the mike before that my underlying question, the question that I'll ask myself about every rules proposal, is, does this or doesn't this contribute to the ability of our body to work in a diplomatic way or not? And so now I see Senator McCollister out of the corner of my eye. Senator McCollister, will you yield to a question?
Senator McCollister, would you please yield?
Yes, I will.
So, Senator McCollister, it was you who brought up the idea of extending the temporary rules for a period of time, is that correct?
Very good. Will you tell me what some of the benefits in your mind of doing, using that strategy might be?
Well, as I indicated, we are at an impasse. We're spinning our wheels without any...producing any positive result. All I am suggesting we do is that we use the temporary rules for a period of time, whether it's a month, maybe longer. Initially I suggested to the end of the session, but I think month would be a good amount of time to do that. We pass a number of bills. There is perhaps 80 percent of the bills that we consider are noncontroversial and we can take care of those bills and move forward and deal with the impasse that we're in at a later time.
Very good. And so my underlying question, the question that I always ask myself as it relates to rules, is, does this contribute to the diplomacy of the body as a whole or does it work against the diplomacy of the body as a whole? Do you think that this encourages diplomatic strategies?
I do indeed. When the parties can work together and I think we can establish a more positive working relationship among the members, I think that will foster a culture and a result that will be good on this rules debate.
Um-hum. Thank you, Senator McCollister. I appreciate that. There is a part of me that would like to be able to move on from the rules and start focussing on the policy issues in front of the Legislature and in front of the state as a whole. My tension here is that with an extension this tension doesn't go away. We will have to deal with the underlying problem at hand eventually, so I am still grappling with the idea of whether this contributes to diplomacy, whether this eases tension or just builds up tension. And I'd be curious to hear from other members on the floor what they think in terms of the functioning of the body moving forward...
...with the idea of extending the temporary rules. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Bolz, McCollister, and Kolterman. Senator Pansing Brooks, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. I am going to give the rest of my time to Senator Morfeld because I thought he had a thought he was finishing.
Senator Morfeld, 4:50.
Thank you, Senator Pansing Brooks. I have lots of thoughts that I am finishing. Unfortunately, I don't actually have a thought at this point, so I am going to yield the time. Thank you.
Thank you, Senator Pansing Brooks and Senator Morfeld. Senator Quick, you're recognized.
Yeah. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is the first time I have spoke on this issue, but I felt like I needed to be on record on how I feel about it. At this point I am supporting Senator Chambers' motion to reconsider and I'd like to talk a little bit about the reasons that I feel like we shouldn't change the personal...or the permanent rules. And one of those is that I've negotiated a lot of contracts in my time and, when we had contract language, you didn't give it up. You kept that contract language because it benefited both sides for the most part. And I know people are passionate about their issues. Going door to door, I heard about a lot of those issues. And in my district, I won by 75 votes, so I know there are people on both sides of that line and it took a lot. My wife and I went to 10,000 doors talking to people, talking to voters. And that's the whole reason that we won was talking to them about...on a personal level, talking about my issues, talking...they were talking to me about their issues and it meant a lot to me to hear their stories. And it's just so important that we keep that in mind that there are people on both sides in our districts. And if there is something they are passionate about, I am sure that they would not want to see something passed that would really hurt them. And that's just how I feel about it and I'd like to give the rest of my time, yield the rest of my time to Senator Chambers.
Senator Chambers, 3:05.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Senator Quick. Members of the Legislature, I like to draw people into the discussion who haven't been in it before, but with whom I have had discussions before. I would like to ask Senator Briese a question if he's willing to yield.
Senator Briese, would you please yield?
Yes, I will.
Senator Briese, in my right hand is a shiny, new United States penny. Now, based on the contact you and I have had before, where would you surmise I got this penny from?
Wouldn't have any idea.
Do you have any idea of a person from whom I did receive a penny this session?
I believe you received one from me at one point.
Yes, I did. Now, if people wager--we don't gamble--wager and a person loses, often that loser would like to have an opportunity to make the record straight. Are you one of those people who would like to get back what I took from you?
I would make a wager with you, but first I've got to ask you a question. How many English kings can you name right off the top of your head? Quick, quick! How many?
I bet you can name at least seven. I'll bet you a penny you can name at least seven. You want to bet the penny?
You think I can show that you know at least seven English kings when you think you know none?
Well, you might be able to, sure.
Thank you. That's all I have. Suppose he started with Henry VIII, Henry VII, Henry VI, Henry V, and right on down. I could have let him know he knows the name of 15 French kings, and you would, the same way: Louis XV and then count backwards. Don't underestimate anybody. And when somebody has a brain that's working, a mind that is fertile,...
...there are many things that can be produced. Some people are wise enough to see, others are not, but there are things that we should stop saying here if we really mean the things we're saying. We talk about all getting along. Then why don't we just get along? That's what I ask you all. I'm always going to be on the outside. I don't want to be a part of what you all are doing. You need somebody on the outside who can crack the whip, who doesn't care about other people getting upset or whatever, for the greater good for the greatest number, and the greatest number would be the people of the state. But I have something to say on that expression, too, when I get a chance to speak. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senators Chambers, Briese, and Quick. Senator Howard, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. I would have started with "Mad" King George. And with that, I will yield my time to Senator Chambers.
Senator Chambers, 4:50.
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Senator Howard. There was a fellow who would always...he was a philosopher. He always said...people talked about in philosophical circles what's the greatest good. So this guy always said the greatest good is the good for the greatest number. So he was at a banquet and a guy came up to him and he said, I've heard you say that and I'm curious to know what you mean by that. He said, mean by what? He said, well, I'll ask you the question, what is the greatest good in your opinion? He said, the greatest good is the good for the greatest number. So then he thought he had him. He said, well, what's the greatest number? He said number one, and that's the way it is with most people. Number one is the greatest number. And sometimes people cannot see beyond number one and that's what's happening now. Is Senator Larson here anywhere? I'd like to ask Senator Larson a question.
Senator Larson, would you...
And as he goes to his desk, this is not going to be one tangled and all mixed in. I'm just going to ask him a yes or no question.
Senator Larson, would you please yield?
Senator Larson, before I ask you the question, if you go by what I say, then I'm not a gambler, am I?
I know on a few occasions you've wagered a penny or a dollar but usually no.
Okay. You do know something about gambling. I'm not saying you're a gambler either, but you deal with a lot of gambling issues in your committee, correct?
And you've discussed at length certain activities that some people call gambling that is illegal, but you say it's a game of skill, therefore, it should be constitutional, is that true?
Did I ever teach you on the floor a very important lesson about gambling? Can you remember?
I'm not sure what you're referring to.
Well, if I taught you the lesson, you'd remember. Can you think of any lesson that I taught you about gambling?
Thank you. Members of the Legislature, I'm going to reproduce it. Senator Larson and I were having a question about gambling, so I said: Let's say that I want to make a demonstration here. I'm going to wager a dollar and you're going to wager a dollar on this thing. He said, okay. I said, my dollar is here, put your dollar there. So neither of us put up a dollar, but for the sake of the example, he put his dollar there. I said, okay, now, your dollar is there, my dollar is there, here is what I am going to do. I put two jacks here. I put two queens here. I put two kings here. I put two aces here. I said, which one of those pairs would you take? He said, the two aces. I said, I'll take the two dollars. That was a pair also. That was the lesson. Sometimes there are basic fundamental things that people need to consider even when they think they know a lot about something. If somebody asks you a question that seems to have an obvious answer, and they want to wager you on it, don't take the bet. They know something you don't know. Let me correct that. They know something that you also know but you don't know that you know it but they know that you know it and they know that you think you don't. That's why Socrates was so successful. He asked people questions. He would elicit from them enough information to answer the initial question he asked to which they thought they didn't know the answer. But here's why that wouldn't work without a good teacher.
If you don't know the answer to the question, no matter how much information is elicited, you don't know when you've answered the question because you don't know the answer. So then the next step was in teaching. I don't know that he ever did this, but I imagine he would. Socrates would say, the question was such and such, here is the answer, now did you ever give that information to me in response to my questions? And the person would say yes. Socrates would say, so you answered the question but you didn't know it, did you, right? He said, that's why you need a teacher. If you have a teacher, pay attention to your teacher and you will learn things. If you have a good teacher, the teacher knows that there is a difference between the student and the teacher. Senator Scheer is my student. His knowledge is here. I'm the teacher. My knowledge is there. I'm doing good teaching, Senator Walz, when I...
...can reduce the difference between him and me. When he gets up here, I have taught...
Oh. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Chambers and Senator Howard. Senator Vargas, you're recognized.
Thank you, Speaker. So I stand...well, one, I want to start off, I remember a couple of days ago I had Senator Larson say that he considers me a friend. I also consider Senator Larson a friend and I think that's one of the hallmarks of this body that I have learned. Actually yesterday I spoke at an event and, you know, I talked about what has been happening in the Legislature. And one of the first things I said, and I have it right in front of me, is: I go to work and believe in the intrinsic goodness of every one of my colleagues and that they are here to do good work and to serve the state to the best of all of our abilities. I do operate with this in my heart and in my mind every day that I come here. And sometimes it is hard because we don't always understand the perspectives of others. We don't get as much time as I think we need and both want to have these discussions and see where people are coming from and what their rationale is. And I believe rationale matters a tremendous amount when we're having conversations about the rules that help us operate and work with one another. And so I do commend Senator Walz for beginning this conversation. Everyone else has been adding into this that as freshman senators we are learning. There's a reason why some of us--I won't speak for other people--for myself, we haven't talked as much. It's because at times I believe, you know, we are coming from our own individual experiences. But they are outside of this body. We could see things on the screen, on the television, but it still is outside of this body. There's a level of institutional knowledge that I am tapping into from all different walks of life to every single person, whatever letter is next to their name. But at the end of the day, when we don't have a rationale as to why we're doing something and it's not grounded in, you know, what's best for the body, it concerns me, which is why I haven't been in support of the amendment and the change to rules in this arena because I believe that if things have been working and there...this isn't necessarily underlying root cause as to why we're having what people consider to be this prolonged conversation, debate, filibuster, that there's sometimes other causes as to why this is happening. And we've had these conversations. Sometimes it has to do with relationships, our ability to rebuild and I think, you know, rebuild trust and repair relationships, our ability to understand the perspectives of other people and what they actually believe in, where they're coming from, the constituents they serve, their values, and that is really, really difficult. And to make a decision that is so deeply engrained in this institution and not have enough of those conversations, and I'll be the first to say I haven't had that conversation with every single one of my freshman colleagues, and I think I have to, but to make that decision without having more of those conversations and then also them not having the conversations with me yet and with more senior members of the body, means we're doing a disservice to this body. And so with that, I just wanted that to be said because it's been percolating in my mind. It's important that we have more people that add their perspective to this, that it's okay that we don't always understand the unintended consequences that's going to come out of really, really large changes to the rules and how we work with one another. With that, I'd like to yield the remainder of my time to Senator Chambers.
Senator Chambers, 1:25.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Senator Vargas. Members of the Legislature, I often use analogies. When Senator Friesen used to sit right in front of me almost, we got along better than we probably do now. We haven't had an out and out contentious anything, but he knows he's put himself in a camp and I'm in a camp where it's not like it used to be. I still like him. He's a likable person. Look at that smile: cherubic.
But anyway, Mother Nature and I have talks and I was standing by this giant redwood, looking at it. Mother Nature said, Chambers, I want you to fell that redwood. I said, Mother Nature, surely you jest. She said, no, I don't jest. You don't fool with Mother Nature. She gave me a fingernail file. She said, I want you to fell that tree with the fingernail file. I said, you must be out of your mind. She said, give me the file, fell it with your fingernail. I said, Mother Nature, you know I cannot fell that tree with my fingernail. She said, well, son, do the best you can for as long as you can. That's what I say to you all: Do the best you can for as long as you can. I'm achieving my goal, taking time. Keep that in mind. That's all I want to do and you all are helping me. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Chambers, Senator Vargas. Senator McCollister, you're recognized.
Thank you, Mr. President. When we came upon this year, 650 bills were introduced by senators, approximately 650 for our consideration. And as we know, committees are churning out bills every day that they meet with an effort to move those bills to General File. This body, this body, the Nebraska Legislature is the bottleneck, as we will soon see. Unless we get to business here, we're going to be the laughing stock of the state. We have some champion negotiators in this body. Perhaps one of the most experienced negotiators in this body is Senator Dan Quick. Would he yield to a few questions?
Senator Quick, would you yield?
Yes, I would.
Senator Quick, have you been involved with labor negotiations in your previous life experiences?
Yes, I have.
When two bodies or two groups have difficulty reaching a decision and it could derail the whole process, what have you done in those instances?
Well, one of the things...and I know we were at an impasse on a couple issues with my previous employer. And at one point the other...I would say the HR director was so angry I finally just said, you know, this isn't personal, this is about me doing the best job I can for the people that I represent and I respect you for you doing the best job you can for the people that you represent. And we...everything settled down and we were able to work together. And I didn't get everything I wanted and she didn't get everything she wanted, but in the end nothing got changed in the contract language, because that's what she wanted to change was the contract language.
So you moved on. Thank you.
We moved on.
Thank you, Senator Quick. Would Senator McDonnell yield to a question?
Senator McDonnell, would you please yield?
In your previous work experience, have you done any serious negotiating?
Can you enlighten us on what that experience was?
I was ten years the president of the Omaha firefighters union, Local 385; I was four years the state president for the Nebraska Professional Fire Fighters; and I worked for the International Association of Fire Fighters covering Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri as a field rep.
Thank you. When you reached an apparent impasse between two bodies, how would you typically handle that?
To settle any kind of agreement, you have to have willingness from both sides. You have to have the willingness to come to a resolution and both sides have to be willing to give and take.
Thank you. Thank you for that. It says, in a book that we're all familiar with, blessed are the peacemakers. And that's what we need to move forward today and perhaps the best exemplification of that is Senator Kolterman. So I appreciate his efforts and all the other peacemakers in this body and let's move forward. I would relinquish the balance of my time to Senator Chambers.
Senator Chambers, 1:30.
Thank you, Mr. President. Senator McCollister, thank you. When we just hear words, they can sound like other words. If we see them written, then we know which one they mean. He said blessed are the peacemakers. The ones who brought us to the condition we're in now are the piece makers because we've been broken into pieces. But he meant p-e-a-c- e. What I think when I listen to Senator McCollister asking about negotiation is what I call...
...Al Capone's school of persuasion--you can get more done with a kind word and a gun. And that's what Al Capone said and that's true. So right now we're in the gun stage before we tried the kind words. Some of you have tried to pour oil on troubled waters. And if people have ears to hear, they will listen. But as long as it goes on like this, you're in my territory, you're on my side of the court, and I like it. I enjoy it. If you want to really upset me, come together, reason, and reach a logical conclusion which is to leave well enough alone. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator McCollister, Quick, McDonnell, and Chambers. Senator Larson, you're recognized.
Do I see five hands? I do. The question has been called. Shall debate cease? All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay. There's been a request for a call of the house. The question before us is, shall the house go under call? All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay. Record, Mr. Clerk.
37 ayes, 0 nays to place the house under call.
I'll let the call of the house go first.
The house is under call. Senators please record your presence. Those unexcused senators outside the Chamber please return to the Chamber and record your presence. All unauthorized personnel please leave the floor. The house is under call. Senator Larson.
On the question I would request a roll call vote in regular order.
Senator Stinner, Williams, Watermeier, McCollister, Geist, Linehan, Chambers. Senator Chambers, would you record, please? Brasch. Senator McCollister, could you record, please? Senator Stinner, the house is under call, would you please return to the Chamber. Senator Stinner, would you please return to the floor. The house is under call. We are all accounted for. Mr. Clerk. The question before the body right now is to cease debate.
(Roll call vote taken, Legislative Journal page 452.) 27 ayes, 21 nays to cease debate on the motion to reconsider, Mr. President.
The motion carries. We have...debate is ceased. We will vote on the Chambers motion to reconsider the vote on Larson's amendment. Senator Chambers to close.
Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. All things come to those who wait. I know that I get the chance to close. But when you're the train master and a lot of trains are running in different directions, some things you may miss. But we also have others who kind of remind all of us the way things should go. And the person who makes the motion always is entitled to close. I did not put a line in that Al Capone statement. Somebody who may have heard me give it before I thought would stand up and point out that I did not give the complete rhyme and would I then give it and they would have given me more time. But that wasn't said so I'll give it. It says you can get more done with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone, quoth Al Capone. So there are ways and there are ways. I wanted to take all of this morning, one way or the other, and burn a day off the clock and hope that some people would come to their senses. We can continue doing this. And as I stated when I first started this morning, there are people trying to find all kind of ways to bring to an end what--I won't put anybody else in it--what I've been doing for 26 or 27 days, whichever it is, and I've expressed an intention to continue doing it until a certain point is reached. That point has not been reached. So if they don't come forth with their brilliant stratagem between now and noon, when we'll probably leave here, the thoughtful people never win on the vote to adjourn. The thoughtful people never win on the vote to adjourn. The thoughtful people are always in the minority. On the vote to adjourn, I'm always one of those in the minority but I'm not the only one. On this issue, has progress been made today? I'll know that when I hear some of those 27 people tell the one they've put out in front, you've led us out of the wilderness into the swamp, now you get us out of it. I hope you don't do that. I hope you keep going just like you're going. Four mare days and we will have burned off at least 30 days, maybe 31. A short session comprises 60 days. We are nearly in the short session territory. One bill has been put to Final Reading. Not one bill has been passed this session. I take that as a personal victory. My way is prevailing. And I tell you that in the beginning and I told you all that the beginning when that deal that they made the first day was being consummated. Do whatever you want to do and it's not going to work the way you want it to work. You all have got everything. You got the chairmanships. Show your leadership not by eating sandwiches at a public hearing like Senator Larson. Maybe he's got a contract with Jimmy John. And for all we know, we'll turn on the television. There will be a senator sitting at the desk where they're having a public hearing. And in front of the senator will be the name...
..."Larson," and then suddenly somebody will appear and it will be Jimmy John. And the Senator will say, Jimmy John, what took you so long? Maybe that's a commercial he's working on. How do I know? It certainly doesn't lend any dignity to the proceedings. And when people do those things, they give me grist for my mill. As long as you all are going to let Larson lead you as he is, then I'm going to continue talking the way that I talk. He likes this. You all like it. I should be the most popular man on this floor because I'm giving everybody what they like, even Senator Groene. One time I told him to give me a smile and he had to fake it. He cannot stop smiling now, and that's a genuine smile. He understands some things. There's not a great deal of difference between Senator Groene and me. He's in the North Pole. I'm in the South Pole. But we still are on the same planet. We still...
...are under the same big sky. Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Senator Chambers. Motion before us is the reconsideration motion. All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay. Have all voted that wish to? Record, Mr...been a call for a record vote. Mr. Clerk.
(Record vote read, Legislative Journal pages 452-453.) 22 ayes, 25 nays on the motion to reconsider.
The motion fails. Any announcements, Mr. Clerk? Raise the call.
Yes, sir. Your Committee on Urban Affairs reports LB455 to General File. Exec Board reports LB376 to General File with amendments. Banking Committee reports LB384, LB476, LB549 to General File with amendments and LB406 to General File with amendments as well. LB181 is offered by the Business and Labor Committee; LB203, Business and Labor; and LB172, those to General File. Amendment to be printed to LB22 by Senator Krist. New resolution, Senator Scheer offers LR35. That will be laid over. Senator Albrecht would like to add her name to LB661 as cointroducer. (Legislative Journal pages 453-456.)
LB455 LB376 LB384 LB476 LB549 LB406 LB181 LB203 LB172 LB22 LR35 LB661
Mr. President, a priority motion. Senator Craighead would move to adjourn the body until Friday, February 10, at 9:00 a.m.
You've heard the motion. All those in favor say aye. Any opposed vote nay. The ayes have it. We are adjourned.