Effort to launch review of occupational licenses stalls, appears dead for session

February 22, 2018

LINCOLN - An effort to review the occupational licenses the state issues has apparently died a quiet death.

Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete, sponsor of LB 299, says she was disappointed when Speaker Jim Scheer told her the bill wouldn’t return to the legislative floor, because she couldn’t assure him she had enough votes to break a filibuster.

“A little bit. I would have like to have at least seen it through to the full three hours to see if we could have gotten a vote on the committee amendment and had a chance to move it,” Ebke tells Nebraska Radio Network.

The measure came close. Debate ended Tuesday after lawmakers rejected by one vote an amendment which would have removed health care professionals from the bill. Ebke estimated she had about 20 minutes to go before she could call for a cloture motion to ended debate and go to a vote.

LB 299 would have created a mechanism to analyze the effectiveness and need for the nearly 200 occupational licenses issued by the state.

Ebke says her bill would have done more than cut red tape.

“It engages the legislature in an on-going review process,” according to Ebke. “We have shown we have turned these boards, these licensing boards, loose and we don’t pay any attention to them unless someone brings us a specific one. I think it’s important for us to continue to review. I mean, we’ve delegated our authority to these boards for licensing. So, we ought to make sure we follow up on it.”

Ebke says the opposition during floor debate Tuesday caught her off-guard.

“Things were coming at us from a lot of different angles,” Ebke says. “It wasn’t entirely clear to me why.”

Debate seemed to have turned into a full-fledged filibuster. It would have required 33 votes to break the filibuster and go to a vote on the bill.

Ebke says the legislature needs to review the effectiveness of occupational licenses.

“Personally, I think that most of the licenses that we’ve got aren’t going to be messed with, even in a review process,” according to Ebke. “But, I think that it’s a good thing for the legislature to on an on-going basis review those licenses and make sure they’re doing what we want them to do.”