Nebraska Legislature Adjourned For The Year
August 21st, 2020
Update from NASL member Mueller|Robak:
The One Hundred Sixth Legislature, Second Session of the Nebraska Legislature adjourned sine die on Thursday, August 13th after completing 60 legislative days.
The session was unquestionably a unique one. After progressing as expected for a little over two months to begin the year, the session was abruptly halted due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 13th after 40 legislative days of work. The body then reconvened a few weeks later, using three legislative days to pass an emergency pandemic response spending package. The Legislature ultimately reconvened to complete the final 17 days of session on July 20th.
Another 483 bills were introduced during the 2020 session, for a total of 1222 bills introduced this biennium. The Legislature passed a total of 141 bills, although five were vetoed by Governor Pete Ricketts including bills on K-12 student discipline and FAFSA form completion, death penalty transparency, and occupational regulations for individuals who perform manicures and pedicures on natural nails.
Highlights of the session include the Legislature’s passage of the mid-biennium budget adjustment package. Although there was much consternation about whether major changes would be needed in the wake of the coronavirus, an optimistic fiscal outlet from the state’s forecasting board allayed major fears and allowed the Legislature to move forward. Even so, many Senators and others expect to have to address ongoing budget concerns as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues and the financial picture becomes more clear.
The Legislature was also able to come to a compromise on a package bill that addresses property tax relief, establishes a business tax incentive program for economic development, and provides funding for a potential major project at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. After the property tax and business incentives bills failed last session, it was unclear whether a package could be put together and obtain the requisite 33 votes needed to break a filibuster. As a result of the work of seven Senators negotiating for a few weeks during the final 17 days of the session, the package found support and passed confidently with the affirmative vote of 41 of the 49 Senators.
Another effect of the delayed session and August adjournment is that bills without an emergency clause will become effective later in the year than is typical. As such, bills passed without an E-clause become operative on November 12, 2020 (three calendar months after adjournment) unless the bill otherwise specifies an effective date. A bill with an emergency clause becomes law the day after it is signed by the Governor.
Senators will convene next on January 6th, 2021, for a 90-day budget session. In the meantime, eyes will turn to November’s General Election where we will see at least 6 new Senators elected to replace term-limited legislators and will await the outcome of a number of other competitive races.