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Legislature’s independent thinking a refreshing change PDF Print E-mail

By Russ Pankonin, The Imperial Republican
Nebraska’s a conservative state, no doubt about it. With the composition of the officially non-partisan Nebraska Legislature weighted heavily in favor of Republicans, one would hardly expect to see some of the legislation that’s come out of this year’s 90-day session. But frankly, it’s been refreshing!
Who would have thought a body of conservative senators would pass an increase in the gas tax and then override a veto by first-year governor, Pete Ricketts to keep it in place?
Who would have ever thought that a repeal of the death penalty could make it through the Legislature?
Who would have ever thought that senators would give the children of illegal immigrants the chance to have a driver’s license in Nebraska?
Nebraska’s conservatives never gave Medicaid expansion a snowball’s chance for passage. Guess what? They were right.
Conservatives never lost sight of creating more property tax relief for property owners and took a step closer to that goal.
If there’s ever been a poster child for the ramifications of term limits, this year’s freshman class of senators would be it. Some despise term limits while others say it’s doing just what it was intended to  supposed to.
Personally, I agree with with 44th District Senator Dan Hughes, who said we already had term limits every four years and they’re called elections.
Hughes said his freshman colleagues haven’t been bashful in bringing their views to the Legislature. These freshmen, mostly Republican, march to their own beat and vote their minds and that of their constituents versus the party line.
Long-time lobbyist Walt Radcliff may have said it best when he told the Omaha World-Herald: “Strange things happen when you elect people who can think.”
Hughes crossed conservative lines when he voted for the gas tax increase and again to override the governor’s veto. He was voting his conscience for what he thought was best for his rural ag constituents—good roads.
But when it came to abolishing the death penalty, Hughes voted against that and will likely try to sustain a promised veto by Gov. Ricketts.
And when the Legislature goes against the will of the people, the citizens still have the initiative process to put questions such as the death penalty repeal on the ballot.
As Hughes said during his tele-conference Tuesday, it will be an interesting three years with his new colleagues.  
It’s a well-needed breath of fresh air to see senators voting for what they believe is right and best for our state versus kowtowing to party machines and their politics.