Legislators in both the House and Senate began this Friday with optimistic words.
“I do believe this is going to be our last day of the 2015 session,” Senate President Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, said.
The House began taking votes on bills shortly before nine o’clock, including a bill identified internally by the number 666. There was a bit of laughter among some legislators, one of whom exclaimed, “Judas Priest!” when he was told of the bill’s number. Representative Chris Hall, a Democrat from Sioux City, said it was “ironic” the bill with the title “Debt Reduction and Strategic Investments” had been given what is identified as the “number of the beast” in the Book of Revelations.
“I do think that there is a better way,” Hall said. “I think there is a better way for both parties in this chamber to work on this budget process in the future and the budget process itself.”
Legislators have been pressing to complete the work of their 2015 session, with three consecutive work days of 12 hours or more. Last night, senators concluded at about 10:15 p.m. and this morning Senator Rita Hart of Wheatland opened senate business by singing a song, dedicating it to senators with “significant personal challenges” including one senator recovering from surgery for brain cancer.
“May God hold you in the palm of his hand,” Hart sang in conclusion, before adding her own spoken benediction. “God bless everyone.”
AUDIO of Senators opening today’s session
Legislators expect a full day of private wrangling over a few sticking points followed by harried public action on the House and Senate floor. Top statehouse leaders say the legislature could adjourn for the year sometime early this evening.