ZW Legislative Weekly July 31, 2020
Friday, July 31, 2020
Budget Bills Pass
The Legislature started and ended the week addressing the budget adjustment bill. The extended debate included discussion on a CARES Act-related amendment that would have given legislative approval to the projects and programs already funded by the Governor’s use of the funds, and it would have directed any funds remaining from the CARES money in November to be used as grant funding for human service-related programs. The amendment was not adopted, and the Governor will retain nearly unfettered control of the funds. Senator Friesen also presented an amendment that would have stricken increased or new funding contained in the budget bill, including a number of provider rate increases and other aid-to-individuals-type spending. The pushback on the introduction of the amendment was so strong, Senator Friesen withdrew the amendment before the vote was taken.
As passed (43 ayes-3 nays-3 present not voting), the budget leaves nearly $90 million in money that could be spent by the Legislature on bills remaining on the floor. The budget will now be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature – he now has five days (not counting Sunday) to sign the bill or return the budget with any line-items vetoes.
Gang of Ten, Super Seven, Spectacular Seventeen
The Legislature continues to try to find the right group of Senators that will be able to break the impasse currently standing in the way of this session’s headline issues. The original Gang of Ten has now been replaced by what is being colloquially referred to as the Super Seven. Senator Wayne has also entered the fray and is slowing down the progress of the session, asking for a group of 17 senators who will be able to stop the rest of the body from moving any other bills until certain budget items are addressed. Whether or not Senator Wayne has succeeded in building his group to 17 members, he has been able to throw a wrench in the progress we enjoyed last week. Wednesday the Legislature was able to move only one bill – a pace that cannot continue if we are to get the work done this session that needs to be done.
Interim Studies to Watch
One way to tell that the end of a session is nearly upon us – a huge uptick in Interim Study Resolutions introduced right before the deadline, which in this year’s case was Tuesday. We have been sending daily updates with Interim Studies of interest, but below is what your entire list of potential studies looks like. Not all interim studies will be acted upon this interim, especially now that the interim is starting four months later than usual, and in-person meetings aren’t a given. We will keep an eye on these and other studies and be involved as appropriate on your behalf.
- LR380 (Brewer) Interim study to examine the feasibility of creating a state meat inspection program
- LR435 (Halloran) Interim study to examine and document the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency on the agricultural sector of Nebraska
Best news of all
Only seven legislative days remain!
Katie and Michelle