BEATRICE – An Omaha lawmaker Tuesday was attempting to override Governor Jim Pillen’s veto of her measure that seeks to protect public health.

But the vote to override, failed 27-20…..with 30 votes required.

Senator Megan Hunt’s LB 307 would allow local jurisdictions the option to distribute hypodermic needles to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, such as HIV….known as Syringe Service Programs.  Such programs have gained wide acceptance across the U.S., except in five states….Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming and Mississippi. Hunt said the bill was vetted, supported in committee and advanced to the floor.

"This veto is not about's not about your feelings about me. It's about Governor Pillen's feelings about me. And we know that, because Governor Pillen said to many of you...who then came and told me...that this is personal for him. How come this came out of committee, how come it went through three rounds of debate, how come before we got to final reading, I had 38 yes votes on my card...but at no point during that time did the Governor come up to me and say, you know, this is going to face a veto...let alone's going to face a veto, and here's an amendment I would like to see you consider? Here's an idea to make it better. No, he didn't say anything to me like that. He just trashed it. And, many of you said, he must have had a good reason. He told many of you the reason....and I quote from one of you....I don't know why any of you are working with Hunt this year....we can let her have anything."

Hunt said she’s heard things about the bill that don’t stand up to common sense….are based on scare tactics or just bad research.  "Another concern I heard is this is going to turn us into San Francisco. Okay, San Francisco, population eight million? Y'all wish it was San Francisco...think of all the tax revenue you could get with your Epic tax if we had eight million people here. Please be serious."

Hunt received the backing of Speaker of the Legislature John Arch, in support of a veto override. That after the bill was amended to improve it and from doing his own research. He called it a disagreement over policy.

"I've heard it said there's room for disagreement between reasonable people...and that is how I perceive this. So, what does this bill do? The primary purpose is to allow elected decide if an SSP program is right for their community...and if they decide to implement a program, it must contain essential elements that are written into the bill. It doesn't require, nor does it simply allows."

Arch said the bill represents part of a harm reduction strategy for fighting spread of disease, the increased use of fentanyl and opioid abuse.  Senator Tom Brandt of Plymouth supported Hunt’s bill and the override attempt.

"Everybody is afraid for our children...and there's going to be needles everywhere...and this bill does quite the opposite. This bill is about two things....local will not get an SSP program unless your city council or your county commissioners vote to have this program. And then, your local public health agency is the one that would administer this program."

Some senators said the bill is a way to address the problems of addiction.

At one point…at 11:19 a.m. a fire alarm that sounded in the capitol building and on the floor of the legislature interrupted debate. Speaker Arch then announced the body would stand at ease, until the all-clear was given. Four minutes later, the all-clear was given, and debate resumed.