This week, I sent a letter to the Secretary of State asking for the legislature to be called into Special Session.
The reason I did this is because once again, the legislature failed to pass a bill that reduces property taxes. This is unacceptable.
In the letter, I specified property tax reduction as the purpose for the special session. Special sessions can only be about a specific purpose.
Ordinarily, the Constitution allows the governor to call a special session. However, there is a provision in our legislative rules and the Nebraska law that allows the legislature to do this.
The legislature has never done this in the history of Nebraska.
In order to do this, a senator requests a special session in a letter to the Secretary of State. The letter must contain the signatures of at least 10 senators. My letter had the signatures of 13 senators whose districts represent more than 75% of the land area of Nebraska.
The Secretary of State then notifies the remaining senators in writing that this request has been made. Other senators who also wish to have a special session have 10 days to reply in writing to the Secretary of State.
The Speaker announced today that the 10 day deadline for senators to add their name to the list is 5 p.m., Monday April 23.
If 20 more senators sign, for a total of 33, the governor must call a special session within 5 days. By my reckoning, the earliest that could happen would be Monday, April 30.
This special session idea has made everyone running for re-election concerned.
It conflicts with their re-election campaigns for the primary election coming up in May. While I understand their concerns, I also understand the need to finally resolve the most serious issue facing our state.
Year after year, nothing happens. Senators leave the session and declare the other side is to blame. They encourage their constituents to keep voting for them so they can “keep up the fight.” The reason we never “win” the fight is because we fail to compromise.
Since I’ve been here, we’ve had multiple good bills that address this issue die on the floor. Many good bills also remain trapped in committee. There is not another issue that has been more thoroughly studied.
We’ve been over this problem ad nauseam. Senators being called into Special Session with an election looming and a campaign to get back to will be empowered by a sense of urgency that I think has been missing.
During my Army career, I was always amazed by what could be accomplished by a group of highly motivated people. The property tax solution could come from the shortest Special Session in history.
I encourage Nebraskans to contact every senator in the legislature and urge them to sign the letter for the special session before Monday the 23rd of April.
This link contains the information you need to contact them: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/senators/senator_list.php
The other reason I took this approach is because I cannot tell my constituents that I’ve “tried everything” to solve the property tax problem until I actually have tried everything.
This really is the last legislative tool in the tool box. We can’t wait for the next legislature. The people didn’t send us here to “keep up the fight” for property tax reform year after year. They sent us here to finally win the fight and get something done. This problem must be solved now.
If this doesn’t work, the people must pass the Property Tax Ballot Initiative in November.
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at: [email protected] Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.