Monday, January 14, 2013

Biting Truth

Change can be hard to get used to, at times.

Even as members of Congress swing back to Washington this week for the start of normal business, the political imbalance that existed for the last two years has begun to shift back towards the political center, a change that's already forecast to cause a different kind of congressional dysfunction.

Many state legislative bodies around the nation are going through similar rebalancing, including the Nebraska Unicameral, where some of Nebraska's Republican tea party politicos are already whining like whipped dogs, after last week's committee assignments.

To put it bluntly, the nominally non-partisan Nebraska Legislature doesn't look like it'll be playing the legislative lap-dog to Republican Governor Dave Heineman this session, as it has too often in the recent past. And we're pretty pleased about what kind of good governance that could lead to.

In case you missed it, the 2013 Nebraska Legislature already started its 2013 session last week, with a heavy list of proposed bills including state-level Medicare changes, voter registration, gun safety, criminal sentencing and social media laws.

The Legislature also chose its committee chairs, a task of serious importance that rarely receives the kind of media attention it should.

This year, it appears Nebraska's nominally non-partisan legislature really lived up to it's non-partisan designation, naming eight Democratic chairpersons, seven Republicans, and one independent to head the sixteen major committees. This is even more surprising when you consider that Republicans hold 30 of 49 seats in the Legislature.

It's the kind of balance that would make most sensible Nebraskans proud. For Nebraska's tea party pandering Republican Party "leaders" however, it's the kind of balance that has them lashing out like immature teenagers on their Facebook pages.

It's a good bet most of those politicians good enough to actually be elected to Nebraska's legislature know better than to act so childishly. After all, Sen. Ernie Chambers is back in the legislature, and he's known for having little patience with those of both parties who attempt to promote stupidity through tantrums on the floor of the Unicameral.

Gov. Heineman is not nearly so politically intemperate as Nebraska's other Republican Party leaders. Heineman has already made a very wise move toward Democratic Sen. Heath Mello - the new chairman of the influential Appropriations Committee. The governor has promised he will bargain with Mello in good faith, coming forward with the kind of deference to compromise and good sense that past moderate, sensible, Nebraska Republican political leaders have been known for.

Those unhappy with Gov. Heineman's shift towards the sensible, who think a new tea party leaning Republican is waiting in the wings to replace Heineman, received even more bad news this weekend. Both Attorney General Jon Bruning and University of Nebraska Regent Tim Clare announced they won't be running to replace Heineman in 2014.

In summary, this Legislature doesn't look to be a lap dog this session - for either side of the political aisle.

Let's hope they show everyone, across the nation, how real bipartisanship can work.

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