Teleconference report Tuesday, May 10.
By Josh Sumner
The Wauneta Breeze
As the 102nd Legislature rapidly approaches the end of its 90-day session on June 8, Sen. Mark Christensen said there would technically be enough time to try to push a bill through the Unicameral which would dismantle the current Lower Republican NRD.
But he doesn’t see it happening. And he definitely doesn’t support it.
Christensen said the only way a state senator could introduce a bill this late in the session would be through a suspension of the rules, which he said isn’t all that uncommon, but also not likely.
“I heard this rumor from as far back as when we were still doing committee meetings,” said Christensen. “I kept saying, ‘I don’t think they’ll go that direction.’” When asked, Christensen said he and Sen. Tom Carlson, of District 38, have opposed the notion since day one.
“The lower has got to get something done,” said Christensen. “I think they understand that now better than they did before.”
Redistricting Hearing Scheduled for Friday
A hearing is scheduled this Friday to address redistricting. One proposed map has District 44 gaining Gosper and Harlan Counties, while losing Dawson County. This came as no surprise to Christensen.
“It’s as I guessed it would be all along,” said Christensen.
However, another option has been spearheaded by Sen. John Harms, of District 48, and Sen. LeRoy Louden, of District 49, in recent weeks.
According to Christensen, Lauden and Harmes are working together in an attempt to preserve District 49, which is something Christensen says, “doesn’t make sense.” Included in the plan would be a combination of District 47 and District 44, which is something Christensen says he adamantly opposes.
The west five counties that currently comprise District 44–Hitchcock, Hayes, Dundy, Chase and Perkins–would be absorbed by District 47.
“I don’t think their plan is going to gain momentum,” said Christensen. “But they are doing a tour out there. I personally don’t favor it because I would just as soon we keep our district whole.”
Abortion Drug Bill Comes Out of Committee
LB521, a bill introduced by Sen. Tony Fulton, of District 29, that makes changes to how certain drugs are used in inducing abortions, came out of committee last Wednesday.
Christensen said he expects a lengthy debate about the bill, which mandates that a doctor is present when abortion-inducing drugs are prescribed.
A system currently in place allows abortion doctors to visit and prescribe drugs to patients via video conference, with no follow-up visit required.
“There’s no supervision,” said Christensen. “We’re trying to get the bill adjusted so that a doctor has to be present in front of a patient to prescribe drugs. I’m sure it will be an 8-hour discussion. It should be a late night.”
Senators Stay Busy with CIR Bill
Debate about LB 397, a bill which would redefine the terms of the Committee of Industrial Relations, took up much of Christensen’s day last Wednesday.
“It took a lot longer than planned, and we’re still in negotiations,” said Christensen. “A number of individuals wanted to see more reform to the CIR.”
The particular amendment on which most debate was focused was geared toward making the CIR an advisory board, said Christensen.
The CIR is a committee that works as an arbitrator when unionized public employees and public entities have contract disputes.
Christensen said he believes the reason the CIR doesn’t currently hear more cases is because of the high cost to the sides involved.
Senator MARK CHRISTENSEN holds weekly teleconferences at 7 a.m. MT/8 a.m. CT each Tuesday morning. The public is invited to attend the conference calls. Hosts of the conference calls are Southwest Public Power District in Palisade and Midwest Electric in Grant. Christensen can be reached at 402-471-2805, or by mail at P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or via e-mail at