Channeling the Senate.

That Washington model of delay and filibuster seems to have invaded the Nebraska Legislature.

It was always available to state senators, and sometimes used; now it appears, at least to an observer from the outside, to be more strategic and organized. 

The budget package recommended by the Appropriations Committee was challenged and slowed down, subjected to roadblocks and check points, but so far not halted and held hostage.

Not the case with proposed expansion of Medicaid, which was captured by a filibuster.

And, it appears, probably not the case with Sen. Ernie Chambers' bill to abolish the death penalty. The threat of filibuster has been placed in its path. We may find out more Monday when debate is scheduled to begin.

It's been a good month or more of theater in the Legislature, and there will be more the rest of the way.

Seventeen senators can take legislation hostage in the 49-member Legislature. 

And we are told 17 have signed a pledge to prevent Medicaid expansion from even being discussed again, acting on Speaker Greg Adams' stated intention not to return the bill to the agenda this session until he receives assurance that the required 33 votes are there to break a filibuster.

In an open legislative process, it is odd that we apparently have not yet seen the list of senators who signed that pledge. Or did I miss something?

Reading in a biography of Huey Long the other day, I noticed that when the Louisiana state senate considered impeachment of Long in 1929, the governor and his supporters shortly after the trial began acquired the signatures of 15 members of the Senate who said they would not vote for impeachment. That was a sufficient number to block impeachment.

The state senate thereupon asked each of the 15 senators to stand and individually affirm that he -- not sure there would have been a she or two at that time in the Louisiana Legislature -- had signed and was prepared to honor that pledge.

They all did. And the state senate quickly adjourned, ending the impeachment proceeding. Huey held a big party.

And, a bit later, jobs were awarded to some senators and roads were built in some legislative districts. 

* * *

Comprehensive immigration reform looks like a hard-sell in Nebraska's all-Republican congressional delegation.

In the Senate, Deb Fischer has said no to a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who have settled in the United States illegally. Mike Johanns is an almost-no, reserving his final judgment until later.

Big change from an earlier Nebraska Republican senator.

In 2004, Chuck Hagel stepped out front with a bipartisan proposal for immigration reform that included a pathway to earned legal residency for undocumented workers and their families.

Hagel partnered with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in offering a plan that would apply to immigrants who were settled in the United States for at least five years and who had been working here for a minimum of four years.

Later, a broader, more comprehensive Hagel immigration reform plan was crowded out of the spotlight by a measure co-sponsored by Republican John McCain and Democrat Ted Kennedy.

* * *

Fischer appears to have staked out a position supporting missile defense weapons and missile defense sites as defense spending comes face to face with mandated budget cuts.

At a hearing last week, Fischer expressed concern about the termination of a missile -- the SM-3 block IIB -- that was intended to be deployed in Poland to provide some protection for the United States against a missile attack from Iran.

Fischer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee's strategic forces subcommittee, said she is open to considering arguments for an additional missile defense site in the United States.

* * *

Christopher Geary of Omaha apparently has entered the 2014 Republican gubernatorial race.

"Christopner N. Geary for Governor 2014" is on Facebook with pledges to "ease the tax burden on families and businesses (and) cut wasteful spending."

Geary, a self-described patriot, teaches martial arts.

In 2012, he sought the 7th District legislative seat held by Jeremy Nordquist.

Results: Nordquist, 4,211; Geary, 1,792.

* * *

TV and radio ads play a big part in most elections now, but they're not the only way to win.

Trent Fellers won a City Council seat last week with yard signs, direct mail and door-to-door campaigning. No TV or radio.

Social media and online communication, of course, also played a role.

Finishing up

* Bill Orr always was a joy to encounter, engaging and informed, a man who knew what he believed, an encouragement to me.

* Heath Mello, who is guiding the Appropriations Committee's budget plan through the roadblocks on the floor, appears to be at the top of his game.

* Dave Heineman has me guessing. Governor, are you going to run for the Senate?

* Even better than expected: "42." The movie, which is terrific, and the Hall of Fame closer, who remains terrific.

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or  dwalton@journalstar.com.