LINCOLN — The politics of the governor's race produced an unusual moment Thursday in the Nebraska Legislature.
Omaha lawmaker and GOP candidate Beau McCoy broke with legislative tradition by refusing to answer a colleague's question.
The incident occurred during debate about a bill to require public disclosure of school superintendents' salaries and contractual benefits.
Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdredge, another GOP governor candidate, had filed a motion to kill the bill, saying he thought it would increase regulations and be better handled voluntarily.
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha asked Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont his position on the bill, noting that Janssen also is a candidate for governor. Janssen said he supported the bill.
Chambers then turned to McCoy, asking, as the rules require, if he would “yield to a question.” McCoy refused.
Within minutes, McCoy sent out a tweet: “I refuse to let the people's business on the floor of the Unicameral be hijacked by the antics of Ernie Chambers. Nebraskans expect better.”
Before the morning ended, McCoy had refused to yield to Chambers three more times.
Later, McCoy said he thought Chambers had been “out of bounds” when he specifically questioned senators who are governor candidates. McCoy said he had acted within the rules and did not believe that he was breaking with tradition.
Asking questions of colleagues is a regular part of legislative debate and is used for purposes such as explaining a bill, clarifying a position or getting information on the record.
The bill concerning superintendent pay advanced after Carlson withdrew his motion and joined 44 other senators in voting for it.