State senators pass budget, proposed constitutional amendment

LINCOLN--This week, state senators filibustered a bill relating to voting and sent the governor the budget. Here are some of the highlights of the lawmakers’ actions: Budget: The legislature sent the budget to the governor March 27. The budget, made up of four different bills, would provide $17 million for child welfare shortfalls, about $80 million for higher education construction projects and $10 million for special education funding for schools, among other provisions. The governor has five calendar days, not including Sunday, to sign, line-item veto or veto the budget.LB239: This bill would have required voters to show government-issued photographic IDs at their polling places, but it was filibustered by state senators. The bill was debated March 27 and March 28. A cloture motion to cut off debate on Wednesday failed by three votes. During debate, opponents said the bill would create an impediment to voting while supporters said the bill would help prevent voter fraud. Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont introduced the bill, which was prioritized by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala. LB996: This bill, as amended, would require students who want to drop out of high school after the age of 16 to have an exit interview with the school principal, superintendent and the student’s parent or guardian. During the interview, the student’s parent or guardian would need to show that the student is dropping out because of illness or a need to work to support his or her family. The interview would include telling the student that dropping out would likely hurt the student’s potential future income and likelihood of being employed in the future. Sen. John Wightman of Lexington introduced the bill, which would have originally eliminated a provision under current law that allows 16-year-olds to drop out if they have signed, notarized parental consent. The bill, as amended, advanced to the final reading stage. LR40CA: Nebraska voters will have the chance to decide if the rights to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife should be added to the state’s constitution. The proposed constitutional amendment be on the ballot during the November 2012 general election. Sen. Pete Pirsch of Omaha introduced the resolution.