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It had 28 votes.

That's what this year's major tax reform and property tax relief bill could have commanded in the closing days of the 2019 legislative session, according to a final tally compiled by supporters of the bill.

And that is five short of the 33 that Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk has required sponsors to demonstrate before he'll return a contested bill to the legislative agenda after its first three hours of floor debate.

It's the number needed to bust through a legislative filibuster.

Five votes short is getting closer.

And now Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn and members of her Revenue Committee already are preparing to make some changes to bridge the gap.

Most of the members of the committee huddled in a brief executive session upon final adjournment of the 2019 legislative session on Friday and Linehan's message was full steam ahead after a brief timeout, beginning with a committee get-together sometime in late June.

Let's get both the property tax and state school aid reform package (LB289) and the proposed new business tax incentives proposal (LB720) ready for prime time at the beginning of the 2020 session next January, she said.

They're both out there now sitting on the floor, ready to make an early appearance on the 2020 legislative agenda.

And now the plot thickens.

Some members of the committee appear ready to attempt to combine the two bills together so that they share a common fate.

Stalling the tax incentives bill in the closing days of the legislative session this year has given supporters of substantial property tax relief considerable leverage since the state's current incentives package is due to expire at the end of 2020.

Let the bargaining begin.

This is a solid legislative committee that includes the major players on both property tax relief and state school aid reform with seats at the table along with Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward, sponsor of the business tax incentives plan.

Linehan and Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte, chairman of the Education Committee, constructed most of the tax and state school aid reform package.

Sens. Tom Briese of Albion and Curt Friesen of Henderson, the property tax relief warriors, are there.

And so are three additional metropolitan Omaha senators, John McCollister of Omaha, Brett Lindstrom of Omaha and Sue Crawford of Bellevue.  

It's hard to find a shrinking violet in that array.

So the struggle to score a breakthrough that was waged while the Legislature was in session is far from over. Just hit the pause button, and not for long.

Even though committee members remain respectful of one another after five months of hammering all of this out in executive session discussions during the day and into the night, it might start to get a little more hardball inside the committee now that a hostage is in the room.

This ain't tiddlywinks.

And the clock is ticking in terms of the amount of rural representation and power in the Legislature as the 2020 census approaches and legislative redistricting looms straight ahead.

* * *

Finishing up:

* Chuck Hagel will address Boys State and Girls State participants in Lincoln on Friday evening.

* Ernie Chambers: "This (legislative) session will end as it started — me being me and you being you."

* Speaker Jim Scheer told senators that "distrust" contributed to the failure of the major property tax relief and business tax incentive proposals when decision time came at the end of the legislative session.

* Among other informal reviews of the session delivered during remarks on the legislative floor, Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln said "everyone ran to their corner."

* When the U.S. Department of Justice openly ignores an order issued by a federal judge, aren't we in dangerous territory now?

* President Donald Trump's trip to London on Monday should be compelling television. And so will be the Yankees-Red Sox in London later this month.

* Gotta guess the British might be naturally opposed to Yankees.

* Gonna miss that Roby dude; super athlete and apparently a good guy. Go forth, Isaiah, and conquer.

* And, whoa, what about those Minnesota Twins!

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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