Nebraska lawmakers are preparing for looming battles over taxes, spending and Medicaid this year with a smaller Republican majority in the officially nonpartisan Legislature.
The Legislature will convene on Wednesday with 11 freshman lawmakers -- nearly one fourth of all members. Democrats will see a net gain of two seats, plus one independent who frequently sides with them.
That brings the total to 30 Republicans, 17 Democrats and two independents.
Nebraska has long bucked traditional party politics, with lawmakers often joining forces based on issues, geography, or pressure from constituents. But the shake-up in the Legislature could lead to standoffs with Republican Gov. Dave Heineman.
Heineman has said a proposed Medicaid expansion is unaffordable, while supporters view it as a moral imperative that will save money in the long-term.