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Monday Night Therapy: Talking about Nebraska’s Offensive Line – Tonight at 8 PM

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Monday Night Therapy: Talking about Nebraska’s Offensive Line – Tonight at 8 PM


I am back from my Canadian fishing trip and this week it’s time to start talking about the 2024 Nebraska football season.

We’re going to begin with the offensive line because that’s where everything begins. The game is won, the game is lost on the strength of the offensive line and Nebraska’s offensive line hasn’t been very good for a very long time.

One thing to note from last year that’s changed. This year there’s been no talk of Donovan Riola being a weak link on the coaching staff. There’s been no talk of him at all.

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Whereas last year we thought that he would be a terrible coach in addition to the new staff. That’s proven so far to be wrong.

Nebraska has a very experienced offensive line going into this season. Bryce Benhart has 41 starts, which ties the all-time record for offensive line starts before the season even begins.

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A guide to Nebraska’s property tax relief special session beginning Thursday • Nebraska Examiner

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A guide to Nebraska’s property tax relief special session beginning Thursday • Nebraska Examiner


LINCOLN — Thursday is officially game day for Gov. Jim Pillen’s special session on property taxes: a high-risk, high-reward moment for the first-term governor who has vowed, if necessary, to keep lawmakers in Lincoln “ ‘til Christmas.”

State senators will convene at 10 a.m. Thursday for the first of three days of bill introductions, all related to property tax relief. When lawmakers adjourned April 18 without passing legislation to curb the property tax, Pillen declared they’d be back later in the year.

“Enjoy halftime. We’ll see you again here soon,” he said in his end-of-session speech, promising a special session.

For nearly one-third of state legislators, this session could be their final showing, most because they are term-limited after eight years of service.

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Here’s what to watch for heading into the special session.

Will lawmakers debate, or go home?

First up on the docket is the question of whether lawmakers will stay in Lincoln, or if they will vote to adjourn “sine die.” That vote would send lawmakers home and put the ball back in Pillen’s court should he choose to call another session.

State Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha. Feb. 2, 2023. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

Led by State Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, lawmakers in a Tuesday night email thread summarized months of unease over the session and criticized Pillen for not calling the special session or clarifying its scope in a timely manner. 

“We are not his slaves to be summoned at his whim,” Wayne wrote to his colleagues, detailing personal and career commitments he and other legislators needed to consider.

The governor officially issued that document Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours before the session is set to start. That’s the latest proclamation for any special session in 40 years.

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Wayne suggested that lawmakers adjourn “sine die” and demand at least a week’s notice before any special session begins. Or, he suggested, the body should recess for one week, until Aug. 1, so senators would have more time to consider introducing legislation.

Usually, a “sine die” vote comes at the end of a legislative session and is a ceremonial formality to end the session. But Thursday morning could be a test vote.

At least 25 lawmakers must come to Lincoln for the session to begin, and if someone offers the “sine die” motion, it is not debatable. It requires a simple majority of those present.

A new record to introduced bills

Multiple lawmakers told the Nebraska Examiner that at least 80 bills were being prepared ahead of the special session. If all or most are introduced, it could set a record.

Speaker John Arch of La Vista addresses state lawmakers during a legislative retreat at Nebraska Innovation Campus on Dec. 7, 2023, in Lincoln. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

The previous record for a special session is 52 bills, which came in 2002 during a special session to address appropriations, cash funds, state aid to local governments and more.

Most lawmakers have not shared concrete details of what they might bring to the table, some out of concern that Pillen’s proclamation could have purposefully excluded their ideas.

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Senators will determine what bills fall within the scope of the proclamation.

The 10-member Executive Board will determine which of 14 standing committees each bill or policy resolutions should be sent to.

After being assigned to a committee, all proposals must receive a hearing within five calendar days, per the Legislature’s rules. Speaker John Arch of La Vista said Wednesday he will better understand how many days of hearings will take after bill introductions, though he’s budgeted three days beginning next Monday.

Floor debate could in theory start next Thursday, Aug. 1, Arch said, though he stressed that scheduling depends on the number of bills introduced and the work of the various committees.

“Because it’s so focused, there’s probably going to be more committee work on the topic than in a general session,” Arch said. “I don’t anticipate bills being kicked out quickly.”

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If a committee doesn’t take final action on a bill within two legislative days after its hearing, the rules allow lawmakers to seek a vote that could advance a proposal to the floor for future debate. That would require at least 25 votes.

What is Pillen proposing?

Once lawmakers get to floor debate, Arch said, “full and fair debate” will mirror his policy in the regular session last spring, allowing debate to go to a maximum of eight, four and two hours on three successive rounds of debate.

At those points after a “filibuster” to prolong debate, a cloture motion could be offered to end debate and vote on advancing or passing the bill.

Cloture requires at least 33 votes among the 49 members. Bills or resolutions that are not filibustered require at least 25 votes.

Pillen could run into problems with various lawmakers who have cast doubt on his ideas, which include:

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  • Placing hard caps on county and municipality property tax collections, either 0% (in times of deflation) or matching the consumer price index, unless 60% of voters agree to override the caps. There would be exemptions for growth and public safety needs.
  • Funding more than 80% of local K-12 property tax burdens by the state, about $2.6 billion. School tax rates would be reduced from a maximum of about $1.05 per $100 of valuations to 15 cents, 7.5 cents and 0 cents in a three-year period.
  • Retooling existing property tax relief programs, including homestead exemptions and property tax credits. A spokesperson for the governor said there would be no cuts to existing homestead exemptions.
  • Removing more than 100 sales and use tax exemptions. Food, medicine and raw agricultural and manufacturing materials, along with more than 100 other goods and services, would remain exempt. Most new items would be taxed statewide at 5.5 cents per dollar purchase, plus local taxes between 0.5 and 2 cents; agricultural and manufacturing machinery and equipment would be taxed at 4 cents per dollar purchase, with personal property taxes on those items removed.
  • Raising “sin” taxes on cigarettes, candy, pop, vaping, spirits, keno gambling, games of skill and consumable hemp.

Lawmakers to watch

Among the lawmakers to watch are the chairs of the three committees where legislation is likely to be referred: State Sens. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, who chairs Revenue; Rob Clements of Elmwood, who chairs Appropriations; and Dave Murman of Glenvil, who chairs Education.

Gov. Jim Pillen is joined by State Sens. Lou Ann Linehan and Rob Clements in unveiling a proposal to reduce local property taxes in three years. July 18, 2024. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

Those three plus 14 other senators were part of a task force working with Pillen on his ideas this summer: State Sens. Joni Albrecht, Eliot Bostar, Wendy DeBoer, George Dungan, Steve Erdman, John Fredrickson, Ben Hansen, Teresa Ibach, Mike Jacobson, Kathleen Kauth, Mike McDonnell, Fred Meyer, Merv Riepe and Brad von Gillern.

Clements and Linehan joined Pillen in unveiling the outcome of that task force and 26 town halls across the state in May and June, which did not include the state’s largest cities of Omaha and Lincoln.

“Every senator, if you look at their campaign material, would say property tax relief is a high priority for them,” Clements told the Examiner last week. “I think it’s time for senators to step forward and do something about what they’ve been promising.”

However, not every task force member is in agreement on next steps, including Riepe and Dungan. 

Riepe said last weekend he doesn’t “believe in the ‘jump and the net will appear’ philosophy.”

Multiple lawmakers have criticized Pillen, saying he and his family stand to gain financially as part of the plan, stating that lower-income Nebraskans could end up paying more in sales taxes:

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  • State Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln: “This plan is indeed nothing more than a reverse Robin Hood scheme representing perhaps an unprecedented tax increase and massive tax shift.”
  • State Sen. Julie Slama of Dunbar: “That’s corrupt, and we can’t have a tax plan that robs Peter to pay Pillen.”
State Sen. Julie Slama of Dunbar. Feb. 22, 2024. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

Wayne has said a different proposal, relating to lawsuits alleging neglect on the part of political subdivisions in cases of child sexual assault or child abuse, needs to be part of the special session. Pillen vetoed that proposal in the spring, in part citing taxes, which could be the foot in the door to address the issue during the special session.

Erdman has promised that legislation similar to the ballot initiative to eliminate property, income and corporate taxes — the “EPIC Option” — will be introduced during the session.

Also something to watch is how lawmakers’ positions may shift from the 28-14 split from Legislative Bill 388, the previous Pillen-led proposal in the spring8. Five more lawmakers were “present, not voting” and two were “excused, not voting” when LB 388 was considered. The split wasn’t geographical or ideological.

Despite pushback, Pillen has remained confident that he will have enough bipartisan support to get something accomplished in the officially nonpartisan Legislature’s special session. 

He says that’s because it’s not about what lawmakers say, it’s what they do.

“When it comes time to push that button [for the bill], it’s one heck of a responsibility to not push green,” Pillen said. “You push red, there’s going to be tough consequences.”

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Special session costs, length

Of the 36 special sessions since the Unicameral formed in 1937, special sessions have ranged from six to 24 days. Twenty sessions lasted seven days and just one was six days.

Each day lawmakers are in session brings a cost to taxpayers. Pillen has said those expenses are “pennies compared to our property tax increases,” which went up $286 million in 2023.

During a special session, there is no specific end date, unlike in regular 90-day or 60-day sessions. That means lawmakers could theoretically remain in session until the next Legislature begins, or “ ‘til Christmas” as Pillen has threatened to ensure his relief goals are achieved.

The most recent cost estimates provided to the Examiner were in mid-May:

  • Five days: $79,686 ($15,937.20 per session day).
  • Seven days: $130,165 ($18,595 per session day).
  • Ten days: $174,876 ($17,487.60 per session day).

“Special sessions aren’t 10-day sessions,” Pillen told school administrators Wednesday in Kearney. “This session will last as long as it takes to fix the problem.”

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Nebraska governor issues a proclamation for a special session to address property taxes

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Nebraska governor issues a proclamation for a special session to address property taxes


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen issued a long-awaited proclamation on Wednesday calling a special legislative session to address the state’s soaring property taxes, ruffling some lawmakers’ feathers by giving them just a day’s notice.

Pillen warned lawmakers on the last day of the regular legislative session in April that he would convene a special session sometime in the summer after lawmakers failed to pass a bill to significantly lower property taxes. Last month, he sent a letter to Speaker of the Legislature John Arch saying he planned to call lawmakers back on July 25.

Property taxes have skyrocketed across the country as U.S. home prices have jumped more than 50% in the past five years, leading a bevy of states to pass or propose measures to rein them in. Nebraska has seen revenue from property taxes rise by nearly $2 billion over the past decade, far outpacing the amount in revenue collected from income and sales taxes.

Pillen’s proclamation calls for slew of appropriations and tax changes, including subjecting everything from cigarettes, candy, soda, hemp products and gambling to new taxes. It also calls for a hard cap on what cities and other local governments can collect in property taxes.

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Just as significant is what’s not included in the proclamation: Pillen didn’t direct lawmakers to consider a winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes ahead of this year’s hotly-contested presidential election.

Nebraska and Maine are the only states that split their electoral votes. In Nebraska, the three electoral votes tied to the state’s three congressional districts go to whichever candidate wins the popular vote in that district. Republicans who dominate state government in the conservative state have long sought to join the 48 other states that award all of their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins statewide, but have been unable to get such a bill passed in the Legislature.

Pillen said this year that he would include a winner-take-all proposal in a special session proclamation if the measure had the 33 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. He could still call another special session to consider a winner-take-all proposal if he thinks it has enough support to pass.

Pillen’s 11th-hour call for a special session to deal with property taxes drew testy responses from some lawmakers, who have to interrupt summer plans, find day care for children and put their full-time jobs on hold to head back to the Capitol. Even some of Pillen’s fellow Republicans joined in the criticism.

State Sen. Julie Slama, a Republican in the single-chamber, officially nonpartisan Legislature, slammed Pillen in a social media post as “an entitled millionaire.” She also dismissed his plan to shift a proposed 50% decrease in property taxes to a wide-ranging expansion of goods and services subject to the state’s 5.5% sales tax.

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Pillen “thinks the Legislature will pass the largest tax increase on working Nebraskans in state history because he snapped his fingers and ordered us to dance,” Slama posted on X.

State Sen. Justin Wayne, a Democrat from Omaha, called on fellow lawmakers to immediately adjourn the session Thursday and demand a week’s notice from Pillen before reconvening. Barring that, the Legislature should at least recess on Thursday until Aug. 1, Wayne said in a Tuesday letter to his fellow 48 senators.

Under Nebraska rules, governors can call a special session but must issue a proclamation that outlines specifically what issues the Legislature will address during it. There is no deadline by which governors must issue a proclamation before calling lawmakers back for a special session, but legislators have typically gotten that call a week or more ahead of time.

Wayne called the lack of a proclamation from Pillen with only hours before the planned special session “blatant disrespect.”

“We are not his slaves to be summoned at his whim,” Wayne said. “We have families and lives, and this lack of consideration is unacceptable.

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“It is time we assert our independence and demand the respect we deserve.”

Pillen’s office did not answer questions about why he waited until the day before the special session to issue the proclamation calling it.

Nebraska’s last special session took place in September 2021, when lawmakers convened to redraw the state’s political boundaries. That session lasted 13 days. Pillen has said he’ll call as many special sessions as needed and keep lawmakers in Lincoln “until Christmas” until a significant property tax relief bill is passed.





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Fact or Fiction: Nebraska could have a hot start to 2026 recruiting

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Fact or Fiction: Nebraska could have a hot start to 2026 recruiting


1. Michigan is the clear favorite for Andrew Babalola.

Andrew Babalola

Henschke: FICTION. Michigan may very well land Andrew Babalola but to say that he has a “clear” favorite might be a stretch at this point. I think the battle between the Wolverines and Stanford is too close to call at the moment but one that could end up being in Michigan’s favor. Credit to Babalola, he’s keeping this one close with a veil of mystery in a day and age where information is readily available.

Smith: FICTION. This has become one of the toughest recruitments to handicap in the region. It makes all the sense in the world that Michigan would be a clear favorite. The program tradition, having a former offensive line coach as head coach and academics are a powerful mix.

However, Stanford and Missouri should not be counted out. The Cardinal offer a tremendous life after football. Missouri has things rolling right now with coach Eli Drinkwitz. I give the Wolverines the edge now but it’s not a commanding lead.

*****

2. Nebraska can set the tone for 2026 defensive recruiting this weekend.

Matt Rhule

© Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Verghese: FACT. Nebraska’s upcoming visit weekend might not result in any imminent commitments, however it should set the table for what could be down the line for the Huskers in 2026. Top defensive targets such as four-star athlete Brandon Arrington, a defensive back on Nebraska’s board, four-star linebacker Keenan Harris, four-star safety Jayden McGregory and three-star defensive end Hunter Higgins are expected in town. This weekend will serve as an opportunity for the Huskers to establish themselves as top contenders in each recruitment. Regional targets JJ Dunnigan, Landon Bland and Jase Reynolds are high on the staff’s boards and while their offer list doesn’t match some other targets, there’s significant upside with all three that the staff hopes to tap into.

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This is a big weekend for Matt Rhule and the Huskers as a whole, but it’s a good opportunity for Tony White, Rob Dvoracek and new defensive backs coach John Butler to give Nebraska a head start in 2026.

Smith: FACT. Nebraska’s 2026 defensive visit list this weekend is sneakily very intriguing. The headliners are four-star outside linebacker Keenan Harris and four-star defensive back Jayden McGregory. Both are terrific athletes that would fit well into defensive coordinator Tony White’s scheme.

But there are others coming to campus who should have Nebraska fans excited. Kansas native Hunter Higgins is a potential riser as a DE/OLB. Nebraska also has a few athletic defensive backs to watch coming to campus too. Having a good showing with those defenders could go a long way for the future of the Blackshirts.

*****

3. Notre Dame is the out-of-state team to beat for Tai’Yion King.

Tai’Yon King

Hansen: FACT. But put that in pencil for now. The true indicator will be whether Tai’Yion King makes it back for an Irish home game this fall, something he indicated was a strong possibility after Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman, linebackers coach Max Bullough and defensive coordinator Al Golden made a strong impression during an April 20 visit for the Blue-Gold Game.

Tennessee, which King is set to visit on Thursday, will be the only other out-of-state program the Texan has visited, but his offer list is growing.

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The Irish, however, are recruiting the position at a very high level and will play at least one freshman and two sophomores prominently in their positional rotation this fall. If they can reel in four-star prospects Madden Faraimo and Nathanial Owusu-Boateng in the 2025 class, it will give them six top-100 prospects at the position over a four-cycle stretch – the same number they signed in the previous 20 classes combined.

Smith: FICTION. In-state programs Texas and Texas A&M will certainly have a lot to say about this recruitment. But the four-star inside linebacker will have good options outside of the state, too. He’s been in good contact with the Notre Dame staff for a long time now so it is definitely one of the teams to watch. However, Tennessee could make a move for the Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial standout.

The Vols will get a chance to host him soon and have a huge opportunity in front of them.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Rivals.com, the leader in college football and basketball recruiting coverage. Be the first to know and follow your teams by signing up here.

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