Metzler recommended as next Clerk of the Legislature on 7-1 vote

Sen. Slama voted ‘no,’ expressed concern that not all qualifications were met

By: - December 19, 2022 4:02 pm
Brandon Metzler

Brandon Metzler, pictured here at the podium of the Nebraska legislative chambers, was recommended to become the next Clerk of the Legislature (Courtesy of Clerk of the Legislature’s office)

LINCOLN — A legislative panel recommended Monday that Brandon Metzler, now an assistant legislative clerk, be hired to replace the retiring Patrick O’Donnell as Clerk of the Legislature.

Metzler, a 29-year-old native of Omaha, won the recommendation of the Nebraska Legislature’s Executive Board on a 7-1 vote.

It will be up to the next Legislature, to be seated on Jan. 4, to vote to affirm or reject the recommendation.

‘Awkward process’

The approval process for the clerk has been described as “awkward” because four of the members who voted to recommend Metzler — including all three senators on the interview committee — will have left the body by then.

Members of the subcommittee who screened the three applicants praised Metzler for his commitment to be “completely nonpartisan” in the job, and for his extra research into the history and workings of the Unicameral Legislature.

“He’s a legislative geek,” said State Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, one of three senators who screened the applicants.

Lincoln Sen. Mike Hilgers, the Speaker of the Legislature who also served on the screening committee, said he appreciated Metzler’s commitment to follow O’Donnell’s lead in keeping conversations with senators confidential in a place where rumors spread quickly.

The Clerk of the Legislature manages the affairs of the 49-member Unicameral, maintains records of actions taken, and serves as an advisor on procedures with state senators. The clerk manages several employees, including those working under Unicameral Information, hearing transcribers and pages.

Metzler, a graduate of Omaha Creighton Prep High School and the Nebraska College of Law, has been around the State Capitol since 2015 when he served as a legislative page.

Assistant clerk now

He has worked full time for the clerk’s office since 2017.

Patrick O'Donnell
Patrick O’Donnell, the longtime clerk of the Nebraska Legislature, announced he’s retiring at the end of 2022. (Courtesy of the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office)

O’Donnell, 73, has served 45 years as clerk of the Nebraska Legislature, the longest tenure of any current clerk of a state legislature in the country.

He announced in October that he was retiring at the end of the year.

Sen. Julie Slama of Dunbar was the lone “no” vote in recommending Metzler.

She said she was concerned that the published qualifications for the job weren’t followed, which might have served to discourage some candidates from applying.

Qualifications are guidelines

Venango Sen. Dan Hughes, who chairs the Exec Board and was one of three senators on the screening committee, said the qualifications were technically “guidelines” and that perhaps the board could review the qualifications the next time the job comes up.

Hughes declined to say what Metzler would be paid, other than to say it wouldn’t be as much as O’Donnell, whose salary was $201,710 as of 2021.

The Exec Board also recommended the reappointment of Dick Brown, long-time assistant clerk, and Burdette Burkhart as chief sergeant-at-arms.



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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.