Sen. Chambers slows legislative process, angry over Friday adjournment

February 28, 2018

LINCOLN - Sen. Ernie Chambers, upset about the end of the legislative session Friday, sought revenge on Monday.

Chambers filed a motion on every bill Monday as he vowed he would do after the adjournment on Friday.

Chambers became incensed after adjournment last Friday when Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk ruled the legislature had adjourned by voice vote.

Chambers loudly proclaimed the Speaker got it wrong. He reiterated that stance Monday, during legislative debate.

“The voice vote was strongly against adjourning, strongly, and the Speaker, who is sitting in the chair now, said, ‘The ayes have it,’” Chambers told the body after filing one of his motions to delay debate on a bill.

The Unicameral had been voting on final reading Friday when it came to Legislative Bill 350 by Sen. John McCollister of Omaha, which would have set aside certain misdemeanor and felony convictions. A vote on the bill had been delayed by a motion made by Sen. John Murante of Gretna to return the bill to Select File for further debate and possible amendment. When that failed, Murante filed another motion to recommit LB 350 to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee.

The clock moved toward the traditional time the legislature breaks, which is noon, and Speaker Scheer called for a vote on adjournment, ruling the “Ayes” had it.

Chambers claimed they didn’t have it and debate should have continued.

“There was a roar of ‘No’s,’” according to Chambers.

That roar, though, didn’t reflect the vote of the legislature, according to Scheer.

“I will give Sen. Chambers and others; they were louder, but there weren’t more of them,” Scheer told Nebraska Radio Network.

Scheer said the second motion filed by Murante would have taken considerable legislative floor time and that the legislature needed to adjourn to get to committee hearings scheduled for that afternoon.

The Unicameral enters day 34 of the short, 60-day session on Tuesday and Scheer said much work remains ahead of it. Scheer said the legislature needs to stay on task and stop playing with amendments to slow the process.

The bill remains on the Final Reading calendar with Murante’s motion pending.