First half of legislative session full of filibuster frustration

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Updated: Mon, 24 Feb 2014 08:34:53 CST

The 103rd legislature's second session is officially halfway complete.  Friday marked the 30th day of the 60 day session.  And 30 days in, it's been a legislative session overshadowed by filibusters.

"The amount of filibusters we've had the session is just unbelievable," said State Senator Thomas Hansen, District 42.

"Oh gosh, I couldn't count. Almost every bill I think has been extended debate or a filibuster," said State Senator Russ Karpisek, District 32.

The number of successful and attempted filibusters already this session?  Four.  And with hundreds of bills on the agenda, spending 3 days blocking one bill takes up a large chunk of time.

"Kind of the feeling of the body is now if we don't like something, we're just going to filibuster it. Rather than vote and see where the votes are and see what you have to do after that," said Senator Karpisek. 

The body has yet to touch the weighty issues of Medicaid expansion, prison reform, and other contentious bills.  But that hasn't stopped the filibusters from rolling in when it comes to helmet laws and electoral votes.

"When we spend eight hours on novelty cigarette lighters, yellow flashing lights on neighborhood watch vehicles, it doesn't amount to much," said Senator Hansen. 

With 30 days down and 30 days ahead, how are these lawmakers feeling about this session's lawmaking?

"Happy isn't a word I bring in to the conversation. It's a function of are we going to get things done? And I'd say we have a ways to go," said State Senator Mike Gloor, District 35. 

"It is very frustrating because we all have bills that we want to get to. We have bills that we have to get to. And we will. We'll get to those but will everybody's priority bill be heard? I don't know," said Senator Karpisek.

And 49 state senators means 49 priority bills-- and a push to pick up the pace.

The speaker I think has a certain level of control over this agenda that can help us make sure that bills that really are important to Nebraska and Nebraskans will make it to the finish line," said Senator Gloor. 

The finish line is just weeks away.  The 60 day session officially ends April 17th.