NTF worksheet: legwatch282.doc. 5-23.

The use of Present Not Voting (PNV) is a strategy often used by state senators to avoid taking a position on a crucial issue in order to avoid criticism by adherents of both sides of an issue. Senators sometimes hide in their offices during a vote, so that supporters or opponents of a bill will not confront them after adjournment from the legislature floor. A PNV vote can kill a good bill. However, if a state senator changes his/her mind or was undecided during a first vote and voted NO or PNV, he or she can make a motion to reconsider that vote.*

PNV currently has several uses on the legislature floor when voting on a bill or amendment. A senator can vote PNV on a final action to adopt a bill amendment or pass a bill by calling for a reconsideration of a vote. This procedure allows for changes or amendments to a bill in order to pass it. However, this procedure does not apply to cloture votes to stop a filibuster. Cloture votes require a 66% supermajority vote. If this supermajority vote fails, this action deprives senators of an opportunity to cast votes on bills to see them through.

NTF believes that PNV never should stop a cloture motion to halt a filibuster. No bill or resolution should fail, because one or more senators refuse to cast a vote that would allow a bill or resolution to proceed. PNV on cloture is cowardly, demonstrating to constituents that a senator is too weakhearted to vote YES or NO.**

Nebraska First PAC was the first organization to propose reforming cloture rules by counting only YES or NO votes when determining a supermajority number. Timid senators still could vote PNV, but their vote would not count in the supermajority total. A cloture vote to stop a filibuster now requires 33 votes of the 49 senators. Using the reform formula, for example, if 4 senators vote PNV, the supermajority would base on 45 voting senators and require only 30 YES votes to end debate. If this formula was currently in effect, LB 626, the pro-life bill, would have passed.

Conservative Sen. Kathleen Kauth introduced a rule change in January that received no opposition in the Rules Committee public hearing. Her suggestion would reform the rule, so that cloture would require only 2/3 of senators Present AND Voting. Unfortunately, the committee did not adopt her proposal. This option would stop senators from using PNV as a strategy or to avoid voting. Using the information above, contact your state senator to change the PNV cloture rule, so that PNV votes do not count in a cloture vote to end a filibuster. Too many conservative and tax bills fail to advance and pass, because timid state senators vote PNV. It is sheer political cowardice. Email netaxpayers@gmail.com for state senator contact information and join our NTF Legislature Watch Project.

*Rule 7 Sec. 7. Reconsideration. (a) When a question has been decided, it shall be in order for any member voting with the prevailing side, or not voting, to move for a reconsideration thereof. A motion to reconsider must be made on the same day the original question was decided or on the next legislative day, except when it be to reconsider the vote on a bill which lacked the constitutional majority on Final Reading. In such case, it must be made on the same day the original question was decided or on one of the next 3 legislative days. A motion to reconsider must be disposed of by the Legislature within 5 legislative days after making the same or it shall be deemed defeated. A motion to reconsider may be withdrawn only with unanimous consent or a majority vote of the elected members. If the Legislature shall refuse to reconsider, or upon reconsideration shall affirm its first decision, no further motion to reconsider shall be in order unless by unanimous consent.

**Rule 7 Sec. 10. Cloture. At any stage of consideration, the principal introducer of the bill under consideration, a co-introducer with the consent of the principal introducer, or the chairperson of the committee, if the bill is introduced by that committee, may move for cloture to the presiding officer; however, the presiding officer may rule such motion for cloture out of order if, in the presiding officer’s opinion, a full and fair debate has not been afforded. Such ruling by the presiding officer shall not be subject to challenge. Whenever a motion for cloture is offered, the presiding officer shall immediately recognize such introducer or chairperson and shall then order debate on the pending amendment or motion to cease. A vote on the cloture motion shall be taken immediately. A two-thirds majority of the elected members shall be required for the cloture motion to be successful. A motion for cloture shall be in order except while a member is speaking, and a motion for cloture is not debatable. If the motion for cloture is successful, a vote on the pending matter shall be taken immediately, without debate. If the pending matter is an amendment to an amendment, following a vote on the amendment to the amendment, a vote shall be taken on the original amendment. If the original amendment has been divided, then the vote shall be on the original undivided amendment being considered. Finally, a vote on the advancement of the bill shall be taken. A motion for cloture shall have precedence over all other motions except a motion to recess or adjourn. A motion for cloture which fails for lack of sufficient votes shall result in the debate on the bill ending for the day. When the Speaker chooses to resume debate on the bill, successive motions for cloture shall not be in order until two additional hours of debate on the bill has occurred. If the presiding officer rejects a motion for cloture on a bill due to lack of full and fair debate, successive motions for cloture on the bill may be offered at any time.

Research, documentation, and analysis for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. This material copyrighted by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission granted for its use by other groups in the NE Conservative Coalition Network. 5-23. C

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