Major Legislative Business Finished for Session


Hello from a recess Friday, where Senators and lobbyists alike are recovering from last night’s sine die party, the traditional end-of-session celebration where skits and songs recount the hilarious highlights of the session. There was no shortage of material from this long session, and this past week was another eventful one. The Legislature won’t actually adjourn sine die until next Tuesday, but all major business of the body is now behind us.

Governor Vetoes $56.5 Million from State Budget

The week started with a press conference from the Governor to issue his line-item vetoes of the budget. The Governor vetoed a total of $56.5 million in spending from the $8.9 million state budget. Governor Ricketts pointed to the state’s continued decline in revenues in recent months and cautioned against taking the minimum cash reserve lower than 3 percent to allow more spending.  

His vetoes included:  

  • $10.7 million from certain agency operations (a decrease of 0.5 percent in General Fund appropriations for certain agencies, boards, and commissions), including:
    • $5.7 million from the University of Nebraska
    • $524,042 from state colleges
    • $1 million from community colleges
    • $1.4 million combined from Supreme Court operations, probation services, specialized court operations, and juvenile justice
    • $1.1 million from Department of Health and Human Services operations
    • (Programs excluded were those already cut by 3 percent, those excluded from reduction in LB 22 (the spending reduction bill for the current fiscal year), and those reductions calculated to be less than $1000)
  • $33.75 million from provider rate funding, including: 
    • $23.6 million from Medicaid
    • $1.3 million from child welfare aid
    • $2.4 million from behavioral health aid
    • $6.4 million from developmental disability aid
  • $11.06 million from a capital construction bill meant to pay for a portion of the replacement of the state capitol heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system

The spending increase in the 2017-19 budget sent to the Governor was 1.1 percent. With vetoes, Governor Ricketts reduced that increase to 0.6 percent. 

The Governor stated his vetoes would ensure the gas tax would not increase by two-tenths of a cent. He reduced the highway construction appropriation for the Roads Department by less than did the Legislature, which transferred $15 million each year from the Roads Operations Cash Fund to the General Fund. Governor Ricketts' veto would transfer $7.5 million each year.

Legislature Sustains All Line-Item Vetoes

On Tuesday the Appropriations Committee proposed overrides of $32.7 million in vetoes, which were taken up by the Legislature on Wednesday. Specifically, the committee proposed overriding four line-item vetoes to restore funding to Medicaid, developmental disability aid, behavioral health aid, and probation services. Additionally Senators offered their own motions to restore funding to certain programs.

All the motions failed to get the 30 votes needed to override the veto.  Here is a breakdown of the override motions offered:

  • Appropriations Committee (override veto of $300,000 for probation services) – Failed 23-25
  • Appropriations Committee (override veto of $32.4 million for Medicaid, developmental disability aid, and behavioral health aid) – Failed 27-21
  • Senator McCollister (override veto of $26,828 for specialized court operations) – offered and withdrawn
  • Senator Crawford (override veto of $1.3 million for child welfare) – offered and withdrawn
  • Senator Krist (override veto of $716,682 for juvenile justice) – offered and withdrawn
  • Senator Morfeld (override veto of $5.8 million for the University of Nebraska) – offered and withdrawn
  • Senator Bolz (override of $23.6 million for Medicaid) – offered and withdrawn
  • Senator Bolz (override of $2.4 million for behavioral health aid) – offered and withdrawn
  • Senator Krist (override of $6.4 million for developmental disability aid) – Failed 27-21
  • Senator Krist (override of $6.4 million for developmental disability aid and $1.3 million for child welfare) – offered and withdrawn
  • Senator Chambers (override $1.3 million for child welfare) – Failed 19-23

Horse Massage Bill Remains on General File, Will Carry Over

The bill allowing horse massage by non-licensed individuals remains on General File.  While the bill was advanced out of the Health and Human Services Committee this session, it was not selected as a priority bill and so was not scheduled for debate by the full Legislature. When the Legislature reconvenes next January, the bill will still be alive for consideration.

Here is the chart of bills of interest to NVMA members.

Happy (almost) sine die!

Michelle Weber

Zulkoski | Weber

725 South 14th Street

Lincoln, Nebraska 68508

o: 402-975-2195

c: 402-984-5009