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Speaker Mike Flood was a hero in 2009 when he ended the Nebraska legislative session three days early.

People who are growing weary in this long session are wondering what the prospects are for an early exit this year.

Flood said Thursday he has gotten those questions, and while senators have accomplished a lot so far -- Thursday was day 75 of 90 -- there is a lot of heavy lifting yet to do.

The CIR bill has two rounds left. Redistricting bills don't come up for a couple of weeks, and as many as two abortion bills are yet to be debated.

It seems 90 days will be needed, he said.  

But for those still holding on to hope, he offered: "It's not out of the question."

Surf's Up

A waterfall can be soothing, unless said waterfall is cascading down an elevator shaft.

That was the case Wednesday at the Capitol when the northeast elevator off the Rotunda became the escape route for water pouring from a pipe a couple of floors above.

Capitol Administrator Bob Ripley said workers were preparing to shut down the Capitol's massive steam and water-heating system and switch over to the cooled-water air-conditioning system when water began gushing from a pipe on one of the mezzanines above the Rotunda.

"We had a snafu," Ripley said.

He said the flood was caused by a worker not properly shutting a valve or by an aging valve that simply didn't seal correctly.

Either way, hundreds of gallons of water poured down the elevator shaft for several minutes, some of it leaking onto the floor off the Rotunda.

Ripley said state officials are looking at eventually replacing the Capitol's aging 500,000-square-foot heating and cooling system.

How much pipe would that entail?

"I wouldn't know how to begin," Ripley said. "You have miles of pipe in the building."

Senator says he 'stepped out of line' with comments

Debate on a bill senators were attempting to bring back to second reading Thursday in order to file amendments led to what some senators said were offensive remarks about low-income people.  

Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins, an appointed senator serving his first term, was commenting on the bill (LB628) that would allow Nebraska counties, cities and public utilities to donate surplus vehicles to registered nonprofit Nebraska organizations.

His amendment would have struck a section of the bill, which the introducer, Omaha Sen. Tanya Cook, said was an attempt to kill the bill. Bloomfield denied it, but then went on to say he didn't think the government should give away public property.

"It's time that the people that we so call poor have an opportunity to stand up on their own feet. Let's not hand away public property to people that'll probably strip the wheels off of it, sell 'em, buy a few drugs, leave it sit on the road."

He later said he did not intend to indict all poor people or say they were all going to rush out and strip the cars given to them.

"I will also not say that it cannot happen, in certain opinions," he said.    

Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad said everyone is guilty at times of being overrun by passion, but Bloomfield's comments were among the most offensive she had heard in five years in the Legislature.

Omaha Sen. Brenda Council called Bloomfield's remarks "extremely offensive." She said she resented that he made potential recipients of donated cars sound like undeserving, slothful people.

"We've been attacking poor people all session," she said. "Stop it."

Bloomfield said he never dreamed at age 65 he would be asking forgiveness for something said in "youthful exuberance."

"I stepped out of line with the comments I made," he said.

His motion failed on a 3-29 vote, and his amendment was withdrawn.

Reach JoAnne Young at 402-473-7228 or -- You can follow JoAnne's tweets at



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