Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/27/1995 03:05 PM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HJR 2 - UNICAMERAL LEGISLATURE/SESSION LIMIT                                
 CHAIR JAMES announced HJR 2, which was the next bill on the agenda            
 and she asked for at least two minutes from Representative Green on           
 this bill, before he had to leave.                                            
 Number 040                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN said this bill passed the body last year             
 late in the session and never got another committee hearing.   This           
 bill goes from a two-body bicameral to a single-body unicameral               
 legislature.   As per the fiscal note there is a significant amount           
 of money to be saved.  More money can be saved that is not shown on           
 the fiscal note, however.  Besides reducing time of session to 90             
 days, plus having only one body, they do away with the duplicity              
 that exists now.   By duplicity he was saying it was not uncommon             
 for both bodies to introduce bills that are much the same, and                
 several committees of reference will work the bill.  At the final             
 hour, the theory is that when one bill goes to the other body it              
 gets there with a track record.   Each body has its own little                
 twist, and they are forever calling conference committees to                  
 resolve these twists, all of which results from committee hearings            
 in both bodies.  His suggestion was that with a unicameral                    
 legislature such as has been in effect in Nebraska for some 50                
 years, they will do away with duplicity that now exists, and it               
 will become a more responsible legislature.  It would eliminate the           
 opportunity to finger point at the body.  This would require that             
 each person who votes for or against a bill would be visible, and             
 this would help the accountability.  Some people ignore bills                 
 thinking the other body will accept or deny it, which is not                  
 accepting responsibility, and he requested the committee vote in              
 favor of it.                                                                  
 Number 096                                                                    
 CHAIR JAMES said she was undecided about this whole process, so she           
 has not made up her mind about HJR 2.  One concern is about going             
 to a unicameral legislature without term limits.  She would not be            
 willing to do that.  If there is only one body with powerful people           
 in it, we are doomed.  Regardless of her concerns she felt                    
 comfortable passing the bill out to the next committee of referral,           
 which was the Judiciary Committee.                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated that she loved the concept of this             
 bill, and she said she knew a Senator in Nebraska who convinced her           
 that the unicameral legislature is a good idea.  She had no problem           
 moving the bill, and spoke jokingly of the new capitol building               
 they need to hold a 60-member legislature.                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS informed the committee that he was not yet           
 sure how he would vote on this bill personally.  He has vacillated            
 on this for years, and said it might be something the people of the           
 state should address.  If it got to the floor of the House, he said           
 he was not sure how he would vote.                                            
 Number 137                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he wasn't excited about the bill.   He               
 felt reluctant about it, with all due respect to Representative               
 Green, and it seemed too big to him to blow it out of committee               
 without discussion.   He personally wanted to hear the bill.                  
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said if Representative Green wished to have              
 interim meetings on the bill she would be willing to do that in               
 State Affairs.  They would move it on to Judiciary, since that is             
 what they requested, but she would leave it up to the committee.              
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated it would be his desire to have some               
 extensive review, since it is a significant change.  The debate on            
 the pros and cons should be on record.  In the interim, without               
 time constraints, we could set up lengthy, competitive discussions,           
 which he thought should happen.  It should be done, then brought              
 back and sifted through.  There is a tremendous amount of                     
 background, he said.  It will all have to come out.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON made a motion to pass out HJR 2 with                  
 recommendations and attached positive fiscal notes, and also with             
 the understanding that they all believe and want to have the                  
 Judiciary Committee have special hearings on it during the interim,           
 to get full airing of the issue.                                              
 CHAIR JAMES asked if there was any objection to that motion.                  
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he had no objections, as long as it is not           
 going to get waived out of Judiciary.                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he would go on record that he would not             
 want that either.                                                             
 CHAIR JAMES said there being no objections, HJR 2 was moved out of            

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