Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/27/1995 03:05 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 committee.