CRETE, NE – Two Republicans, a Libertarian and a Liberal walked into a bar. Literally.
Former Nebraska state senators Laura Ebke (Crete), Tommy Garrett (Bellevue), Danielle Conrad (Lincoln) and Colby Coash (Lincoln) spoke at the Brew House in downtown Crete Tuesday night at a monthly event called “Political Brews.”
The theme Tuesday was “Life after the Legislature.” All four former senators reflected on their time in office and gave some insight on what they’re seeing in the current legislative session.
This forum was started by then-Senator Ebke when she was in office in July 2017.
Ebke lost her seat in the 32nd district to senator Tom Brandt of Plymouth in the November mid-terms, and this was the first “political brew” she held since being out of office.
“We decided to reboot it,” Ebke said. “We thought this was an appropriate one. These were all people I knew pretty well who were former senators, and I thought that ‘life after the Legislature’ would be fun to explore a little bit.”
Despite being out of office, Ebke remains passionate about bringing politicians and lawmakers together in a civil fashion.
“Our goal is to make sure people see that it is possible to talk about politics without getting nasty,” Ebke said. “That people can be friends even when they disagree. Before, my rule has always been to have one Republican and one Democrat, and then myself. We always try to have a variety so you didn’t have a natural agreement. It’s always worked really well.”
Ebke’s “Political Brews” are typically held on the second Thursday of every month. This week was a special case, since Thursday is Valentine’s Day.
“We didn’t decide that would be a good night to do it,” she said.
Since being out office, Ebke took a job at the Platte Institute in Omaha as a senior fellow for job-licensing reform.
In 2018, Ebke sponsored LB 299, which took aim at what many saw as overly burdensome occupational licensing laws. Governor Pete Ricketts signed that bill into law last April.
“My job is now to make sure LB 299 gets implemented correctly,” Ebke said. “Plus, I’m working with some other states who are trying to do occupational licensing reform as well.”
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.