Debate Transcripts

LB 1066 (1994)

General File

March 3, 1994


ASSISTANT CLERK:  Mr. President, LB 1066 was introduced by




Senator Chambers.  (Read title.) The bill was read for the first time on January 12 of this year, was referred to the Banking Committee.  That committee reports the bill to General File with committee amendments.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Senator Chambers.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, because of the significance of what this bill does, I'm going to give a little background on it.  If the 15 minutes expire and it's removed from the agenda, I have no problem with that, because it is a priority bill and it's high on the list for that consideration.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Pardon me, Senator Chambers,...




SPEAKER WITHEM:  ...  we do have committee amendments.  I did not recognize Senator Landis to do those.  Let me apologize for that.  We'll start the clock over again.  Senator Landis, you're recognized on committee amendments.


SENATOR LANDIS:  Thank you, Senator Withem.  Members of the Legislature,...


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Point of order, Senator Chambers.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Senator Landis had indicated, coming up the stairs, that people often mistook him for me and we have another case of that.  (Laughter.)


SENATOR LANDIS:  That's true, right now, that's easily done.  (Laughter.)


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Senator Landis.


SENATOR LANDIS:  Thank you, Senator Withem.  Members of the Legislature, this bill repeals restrictions on investment of state funds in institutions and corporations doing business with South Africa.  It was our South African divestment bill from years ago, sponsored by Senator Chambers, this year being repealed.  The committee amendment is the adoption of the E clause so that our Investment Council could immediately begin implementing 1066.  If you look at the committee statement,




Senator Chambers was there as the introducer, Don Mathes from the Nebraska Investment Council, Jim VanHorn from the University of Nebraska, Stan Sibley from the Omaha Public Schools, and in the evidence that this is a consent calendar bill to end all consent calendar bills, Eric Broekhuysen, from the South African Government.  Notice that Senator Chambers and Mr. Broekhuysen are on the same side of the issue, for which there were no opponents, and that was the advancement of 1066.  Never has a bill so qualified to be a consent calendar measure as that which bring the South African Government and Senator Chambers on the same side of the issue.  I would urge the adoption of the E clause.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  The question is the adoption of the committee amendments.  Discussion on the committee amendments?  Senator Wesely, your light is on, the committee amendments.  Senator Landis, did you have anything further to say on the committee amendments?  With that, there is no further discussion on the committee amendments.  Do you care to close, Senator Landis?  Closing has been waived.  The question is the adoption of the committee amendments to LB 1066.  All in favor vote aye, opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Record, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  26 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of committee amendments.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  The committee amendments are adopted.  Now, Senator Chambers, I will recognize you to open on your bill.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislature, as I was about to say, this bill is the culmination of an effort that started in 1979, when former Senator Steve Fowler and I offered a resolution, LR 43.  Because of the seriousness of what it attempted to do, namely have the investment officer identify approved investments which were made in companies or institutions doing business in or with South Africa, advising' him to pull those investments because such investments propped up the apartheid system of South Africa.  As such that was a violation of the principles on which Nebraska was founded, or at least purported to be founded and when you look in the Constitution for those principles.  We wanted a public hearing, because I didn't want anybody to be unaware of the seriousness of the issue, people were invited in to that hearing, which was conducted before the Banking Committee.  People came from various parts of the country to support it, and there was South




African government opposition.  The bill laid in committee until 1980.  There was an individual who had graduated from the University of Nebraska, many years ago, and he made a gift to the Nebraska Foundation of, I think, 1,300 Krugerrands for the purpose of being converted to the use of the engineering school, or one of them over there.  Because of the fact that Krugerrands were not money, in the conventional sense of the term, but rather a means by which South Africa obtained investment from around the world in their government and provided funds to undergird, I objected to the foundation accepting those Krugerrands.  Well, you know money blinds and wipes out and obliterates principle.  So the foundation said it was not going to do it.  Doing some rough calculating, I figured that about a million dollars subtracted from the university's budget would equalize the situation.  So I added an amendment, in 1980, to the Legislature's budget bill to lop one million dollars from the university's budget.  Then Senator Marsh and some others from Lincoln indicated that the university does not control the foundation, that rather than take money from the university in the way that I was doing, try to find some way to put the Legislature on record condemning apartheid in South Africa while not at the same time harming the university.  Timing is everything.  That resolution that had had a public hearing the previous year was still in committee.  So, we agreed that the wise thing to do was to pass this resolution.  Had that Krugerrands issue not arisen that resolution might never have had a chance to see the light of day or obtain passage before the Legislature.  So sometimes history brings about circumstances that will allow one or some who are trying to do the right thing to leverage that opportunity into a chance to do something worthwhile.  The resolution was presented, it did not ,require a lot of debate on the floor, it passed twenty-eight to nothing.  When people were testifying against the resolution, when it was before the Banking Committee, they made statements to the effect that Nebraska did not have much invested in these companies, maybe about $25 million.  Such a negligible amount would make no difference to South Africa, passing the resolution was a waste of time.  But if you looked back to the information I put on your desk, less than two weeks after its enactment the Ran Daily Mail in Johannesburg, South Africa, was editorializing about the profound significance of what Nebraska had done.  Being a Midwestern, conservative agricultural state, and I might add racist, which they didn't, they were saying this could start a.  bandwagon effect and other states might do the same thing, which turned out to be a true prophecy.  Other states began to




do this, because Nebraska was the first state, and as the .divestment legislation proliferated in Legislatures, city council, school boards, labor unions, individual companies, the South African economy was indeed harmed.  They began to cry for mercy and seek lifting of the sanctions.  The U.S.  Congress even voted to impose sanctions.  Since Nebraska was the first state, I received many phone calls, many visits from the Consul General of South Africa, and that's C-o-n-s-u-l, the Consul General and his underlings asking that I lead the way in overcoming divestment.  And I said, well this is just that little State of Nebraska which you all said nobody pays attention to.  And he would laugh embarrassedly, and he said, but since this was the state that led into it, if you, Senator Chambers, would ask that divestment be done away with, other states would follow in doing that.  I said, well I need certain reassurances, as do other members of this Legislature and others around-the country who are trying to help correct the situation in South Africa.  To cut through a lot of other information that I'm sure you all are aware of from the news when Nelson Mandela was released from prison and it became clear that there would be negotiations between him, as the representative of the African National Congress and De Clerk, the President of South Africa, a point where be reached where elections that are meaningful could be undertaken, all people in South Africa would be allowed to participate in those elections and the result of the election would be accepted.  Even with those things coming out in the newspapers I talked to Mr. Broekhuysen, the one that Senator Landis identified as testifying at the committee hearing and mentioned the concerns 1 had about these right-wing white groups who said that they would use violence to make sure that either the election did not occur or its result would not stand if black people won.  And these white groups had made the statement that the police force, the security forces and the military of South Africa would not turn on their own.  So if it did come to a violent confrontation the government forces would wind up on the side of the white extremist groups to overturn the results of the election.  Mr. Broekhuysen, speaking for the South African government, and I told him I wanted him to be able to approach us in that capacity, assured the committee and satisfied the committee members that the government would not sit idly by while such things were done.  The elections are due to occur, the results are to be put in place, a representative of the American Government, it may have been the Secretary of State, had indicated that if the south government ...  African government does not deliver on its promise, if the results of March 3, 1994 the election are sought to be overturned America would impose the types of sanctions that had been unheard of to this date.  I don't know if he's bluffing or not, but everybody at this point is saying the right thing.  So with those assurances I am bringing a bill to repeal sanctions.  It is a very long bill, it does not mention the terms South Africa, those two words, but it does, in the repealer clause, repeal the sections of statute that establish the procedure by which the sanctions would be carried out.  And the rest of the bill is referring to the other sections that crossreferred those that are being repealed.  I asked bill drafting to do this so that all references in every provision of statute would be picked up and when we passed this bill the job would be done correctly and completely.  That's all I have to say at this point.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Thank you, Senator Chambers.  We have approximately four minutes left for Consideration of this bill.  Senator Wesely.


SENATOR WESELY:  I'm just going to take one minute to rise in praise of Senator Chambers' work on this effort.  And it is something that we can be, I think, proud of, being involved in it when I first got elected, in 1979, and then later as the Chair of the Retirement Committee when we took the resolution and turned-it into legislation and worked with Senator Chambers in reaching a compromise on that, that was passed by the Legislature.  A lot of times Nebraska gets criticized for not being at the forefront on some issues.  But because of Senator Chambers and this Legislature, we did, in fact, start a national movement that ended up, I think, having a dramatic impact for the betterment of lives of those who are suffering in South Africa under the apartheid system.  And I just want to rise in support of this bill.  I think it's appropriate.  And again, praise Senator Chambers and this Legislature for having taken a leadership role on this important issue.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Senator Schimek.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Yes, Mr. President, members of the body, I, too, rise in support of LB 1066 in the fine tradition, Senator Chambers, of the 27th Legislative District which helped you introduce the original resolution way back when.  And I have been keeping my eye on this issue, too, as you know.  I've spoken with you about it, and I, too, hope that everything is going to work out as everybody predicts and hopes they will.




But until that time I'm certainly willing to follow your lead on this, and I'm also very hopeful that things are gong to work out the way everybody thinks they are.  So I don't think the problems are over down there, I think that it is conceivable, not probable but conceivable that we might have to reconsider this issue later.  But for now I'm following your lead and I think this is a good bill.  Thank you.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Thank you, Senator Schimek.  No further lights on.  Senator Chambers, you are recognized for closing.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislature, I have mixed emotions, to be completely honest, about bringing this bill.  But I had promised that I would.  And the promise was made not just to members of the Legislature or representatives of the South African government, but groups around the country who had been working on this issue, they also contacted me.  It was like a courtesy extended by one comrade in arms to another.  So I told them that what I will agree to do is allow my name to be put on a statement which could be circulated, indicating that as soon as Nelson Mandela asks that sanctions be lifted, that statement could go out with my name on it.  That statement was signed by me, it was circulated, and I told the people from the South African government they should have a copy, they may have had it at that time, but they said they wanted to be sure that I would still do this.  I'm not doing it for the South African government, I'm doing it, even' with mixed emotions.  The concerns that Senator Schimek expressed that this may not be the end of a serious problem, but to poorly quote Winston Churchill, this may not be the end, this may not be the beginning of the end, but perhaps it will be the end of the beginning.  And I think later on Senator Hall may have an amendment he would like to discuss with the Legislature, probably on Select File, because I'm closing now.  And I'm willing to allow that amendment to be attached, if the Legislature would agree to it.  And in order not to take too much time, I just have one other thing I must say, I don't know whether to call it gloating, taunting or just good humor and cheer, this is one of those bills which you all can punish me on by not passing it and I wouldn't even care.  (Laugh.) I don't care if you pass this bill, it will be...  it will be leaving something in statute which a monument.  And it's difficult for somebody to have brought something into the world and then watch it demolished.  So think about it, would you rather let me keep my monument, or do ....  Some are shaking their head.  Oh, well




then demolish it and advance the bill.  (Laugh.)


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Thank you.  You've heard the closing, members.  All in favor of advancing LB 1066 vote aye, all opposed vote nay.  Record, Mr. Clerk.


ASSISTANT CLERK:  28 ayes, 2 nays on the motion to advance the bill.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  The bill is advanced.  Prior to going on, to the next bill, would like to introduce guests of Senator Hall.  We have 15 fourth graders from the Central Christian Church and their teacher in the south balcony.  LB 1127.  You may want to check the board, we have...