Legislature Nears Half-Way Point, Senators Say Session Had Slow Start

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Only 3-percent of the 460 bills proposed have the signature of Governor Dave Heineman to become law. Some state senators say this is one of the most sluggish starts of a session they've seen.

"We've spent a lot of time on some peripheral issues," said Sen. Scott Latenbaugh.

"It's gone very slow for some reason and I think it's because some people go on to discuss budget issues coming up and so this is very contentious," said Sen. Norm Wallman.

Some of the bills approved so far include a ban of the sale of novelty lighters and a bill to increase the penalty for manure spills in metro city limits.

"This one is probably a little slower starting than most knowing that we have so many big issues yet to get to," said Sen. Jeremy Nordquist.

Many of these bills were filibustered. Sen. Lautenbaugh's amber lights bill which would put yellow flashing lights on citizen patrol vehicles was talked about for four days before eventually getting killed on the floor.

"I mean it's frustrating because it was a relatively insignificant thing and that would have been helpful to some, it didn't warrant a filibuster," said Lautenbaugh.

For other senators these filibusters tell a different story.

"Like the helmet bill, it took a lot of time but showed how the state is pretty well 50/50 on this thing so we learned something," said Sen. Wallman.

But are legislators actually behind or is this just how it works? 10/11 News compared this session to the last short session in 2012. As of Feb. 17, 18 bills have been passed by the legislature, 16 of those have been signed by the Governor Heineman. By day 27 of the 60 day session in 2012, nine bills had been passed by the legislature and Heineman hadn't signed any.

With major issues like medicaid expansion, prison and tax reform on the docket, these senators have their work cut out for them.

"Out of the 49 senators there are probably 49 different ideas on each of those and so we will have a lot of debate and a lot of discussion," said Sen. Nordquist.

Nordquist says next month is when the legislature should start seeing these major issues hit the floor.