Big Things Ahead for Nebraska's Speaker
Mike Flood, a lawyer and broadcaster, leads the nation's only unicameral Legislature.
In a Time magazine profile, the 35-year-old speaker of Nebraska’s unicameral Legislature likened his life in his hometown of Norfolk, Neb., to the old TV show Ed. In the show, the main character was a lawyer and bowling alley owner. In Mike Flood’s case, replace the bowling alley with a radio station.
Flood has worked in radio since he was 15. As a student, he ran the University of Notre Dame’s radio station and started his first station during his first year of law school. Today he helps run two radio stations: one classic rock and the other country. As a broadcaster, Flood became aware of and active in the issues facing his state, so he ran for state senator and was elected in 2004.
Three years later, Flood was elected speaker of the Nebraska Legislature. At the time, almost half of the senators were term-limited, providing Flood the opportunity to take on a leadership position without having any experience as a committee chair. As speaker, he sets the legislative agenda for the 50 senators in the nation’s only state unicameral Legislature.
Flood acknowledges that his fast rise was due to favorable circumstances. But fellow senators claim Flood’s success as speaker should be credited to his deft negotiation skills and the ability to find common ground on issues that include education and water use. Those skills will be useful when the Legislature meets over the next two years to address the state’s $986 million deficit. "The speaker really has a role in our Legislature [in] trying to bring people together, trying to find solutions to conflict," Flood says.