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Proposal would officially make Nebraska Legislature partisan

(Ellis Wiltsey)
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 3:29 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A lawmaker proposed a measure Thursday that would end Nebraska’s status as the only state with an officially nonpartisan Legislature.

The measure by Sen. Julie Slama, of Peru, would strike Nebraska’s constitutional requirement that state legislative candidates appear on ballots with no party affiliation.

Voters would have to approve the constitutional amendment in 2022 if lawmakers vote to place it on the ballot, but it faces an uphill battle in the Legislature.

Many conservatives favor the idea, saying it would promote transparency and help Republicans push through major tax cuts and gun-rights measures that have stalled, despite being widely popular in GOP-friendly Nebraska. Progressives and some moderate lawmakers say Nebraska’s de-centralized Legislature allows lawmakers to think for themselves and protects people whose beliefs are in the minority.

Slama, a Republican, said it’s time to end “the idolatrous practice practice of celebrating Nebraska’s nonpartisan unicameral simply because it’s unique.”

Although the Legislature is officially nonpartisan, Nebraska lawmakers’ political leanings are widely known and many of their votes fall close to party lines. Republicans hold 32 of the Legislature’s 49 seats, one vote short of what’s needed to overcome a filibuster.

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