Wednesday, November 21, 2012

USA's Emperor of Statehouse Filibustering back in the saddle in Nebraska Unicameral after term-limit timeout

2012 North Omaha Billboard urging reelection of Chambers
Here's what John Gramlich of Stateline wrote about Chambers in 2010, before he defeated his successor, Brenda Council, last month in a reelection bid to represent his old North Omaha district, 11.
Among the most prolific filibusterers in any state's history is former Nebraska Senator Ernie Chambers, who served a record 38 years in the Legislature before leaving in 2008 because of newly imposed term limits. Chambers is a legend at the unicameral statehouse in Lincoln, where for decades he used stalling tactics to defeat or change legislation he didn't like.
     In 2002, when Nebraska's Legislature adopted a new rule making it easier to end filibusters, most observers agreed it was done in an attempt to stop Chambers from using them. Chambers himself believes the state's term-limits law was approved just to get him, and his delaying tactics, out of office. It may have worked, but Chambers says he has no regrets about the way he legislated during his career.
     "In the legislative assembly, where you meet for a finite number of days, time is the most valued commodity. Whoever controls or manages time is the one who wins," says Chambers...
Deena Winter of Nebraska Watchdog recalled a memorable filibuster by Chambers in 2005 against legislation which recently passed anyway, via referendum:
...He famously blocked a constitutional amendment in 2005 protecting the right to hunt and fish by introducing amendment after amendment protecting the right to do things such as create, recreate, converse, procreate, sit on the porch and drink lemonade, laugh, cough, itch, scratch, shear and “hunt for the link between Noah’s Ark, Joan of Arc and Archimedes.”
Chambers has also amended or killed laws on fetal tissue research, marriage equality, the death penalty and abortion.

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