By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Nebraska legislators voted to break a filibuster Monday on the winner-take-all distribution of presidential electoral votes.
During his weekly tele-conference call Tuesday, 44th District Senator Dan Hughes said the vote to end debate got the necessary 33 votes to end debate.
Following that vote, senators voted 31-17 to advance the bill to Select File.
Hughes said Tuesday it’s likely that another attempt to filibuster the bill will be made when it hits the floor on Select File.
He questioned whether the votes will be present to stop debate on second reading.
Hughes said he voted to end debate and voted to change the state’s electoral college votes to winner-take-all.
Presently, two votes go to the popular vote winner, with the winner in each of Nebraska’s three Congressional districts taking the other three votes. President Obama drew one electoral vote from the 2nd District in the 2008 election.
Gambling debate short
Hughes said he voted in favor of LR10CA—a resolution that would have given state voters the opportunity to vote on whether or not to remove gambling ban from the state constitution.
The resolution was sponsored by Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus. Hughes noted it was the first time that Schumacher was able to get a gambling bill out of committee.
However, a motion was filed to indefinitely postpone the bill, which in effect kills the resolution. Schumacher encouraged the vote, noting that if senators didn’t want to advance the bill, there was no sense in spending time debating it.
With just a simple majority of 25 votes needed to postpone
the resolution, 30 senators voted to postpone it while Hughes joined 17 other senators against postponing it.
Hughes said most Nebraskans have access to casino gambling within two hours of where they live.
Hughes said Nebraska already deals with problem gambling issues while revenue continues to go out-of-state.
When it comes to gambling, Hughes noted he’s a farmer, so he understands the gamble farmers take every day.
Several ag-related bills headed to final reading include LB164 and LB207.
LB164, introduced by Sen. Curt Freisen of Henderson, would give natural resource districts the authority to budget on a two-year budget versus annually.
LB207, introduced by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala, would increase the penalties for chemigation violations of up to but not more than $5,000 per day.
Hughes said he supports LB242 which would allow the Dry Bean Commission to increase their check-off fee. He said he sees a need for more funds to promote their product.
This week, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on LB329. The bill would reduce landowner liability if they are compensated for allowing people on their ground for hunting or outdoor activities.
Hughes addressed a question on giving schools the ability to collect local income tax.
He said he’s not in favor of giving local entities access to a state tax already in place.
He said he’s closely watching LB351, which would return 20 percent of income tax collected back to the area that it was paid from.
The school funding formula used to have that provision but it has been reduced to just 2 percent being returned.
The change would keep more local income tax dollars at home which could help offset property taxes to pay for schools, local and county governments.
Priority bills due March 11
Hughes said senators have until Wednesday, March 11 to select their priority bills for the session.
Prioritization almost insures the bill will be heard this session.
Tuesday marked day 37 of the 90-day session, meaning the session is more than one-third complete.
Sen. Hughes holds a weekly tele-conference with constituents each Tuesday morning during the session. Locations for the tele-conferences include the Imperial city council chambers, Southwest Public Power in Palisade and Midwest Electric in Grant. The phone-in tele-conferences start at 7 a.m. MT each Tuesday and are open to the public.