Showdown expected on Nebraska session's final day


LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers will spend their final day of this year's session trying to override Gov. Dave Heineman's vetoes.

Speaker Mike Flood has scheduled the Legislature's 60th and final day for April 18, to ensure lawmakers will have a chance to override the governor's expected vetoes. Heineman has five days to sign or veto a measure he receives, not counting Sundays.

At least three bills are at stake: A proposal to allow machine bets on previously run horse races, a sales tax measure for Nebraska cities and legislation that would restore state-funded prenatal care coverage for low-income women, including illegal immigrants.

Heineman has said he opposes all three and vetoed the horse racing measure Monday. Late Wednesday afternoon, his office announced that he had vetoed the sales tax bill.

Lawmakers need 30 votes to override Heineman's veto. They passed the sales tax bill 30-15, and the prenatal care measure 31-15. The horse racing measure cleared the Legislature 26-18.

In the meantime, several lawmakers are planning to travel the state to rally public support for their measures. Omaha Sen. Brad Ashford said he will visit several Nebraska cities between now and the final day to present the sales tax measure to voters.

Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell convened a news conference Wednesday with roughly a dozen lawmakers to show support for her bill, which would restore state-funded coverage for the unborn children of low-income women, including illegal immigrants.

Later in the day, Flood's office announced that he and four other lawmakers would hold news conferences Thursday at hospitals in Scottsbluff, Kearney and Grand Island to discuss the prenatal care bill.

Heineman has said he supports prenatal care but argued that it's unfair for taxpayers to support care for illegal immigrants. Bill supporters have countered that complications from even one pregnancy can more than offset the cost of preventative care. Supporters also see it as an imperative that transcends the immigration debate.

"Prenatal care matters, and it matters for a lifetime," Campbell said. "An important point that we all need to remember is we're already spending funds for these babies. We spend funds for their labor and delivery. We spend funds if they have complications. And we spend funds for longtime and long-term health conditions."

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