Nebraska Unicameral mired in filibusters

From song lyrics to commentary, filibusters are hanging over the Unicameral.
Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 1:03 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - A number of bill passed the Nebraska legislature Thursday, from phasing out Social Security income tax to directing the state to take over management of the OPS retirement system. Lawmakers also approved the framework for a cryptocurrency bank in the state.

But the bigger story Thursday seemed to be the delays and back-and-forth.

“I’m taking this time to teach you a lesson,” State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha said in session Thursday.

Cavanaugh is frustrated, disappointed, and angry with a number of her colleagues. Her bill this week would have forced the state health department to apply for gap coverage. It’s a Medicaid waiver so families of developmentally disabled children can better pay for some of the expensive services and treatments.

But senators filibustered it and killed the bill.

“You made sure that I know that you took pleasure in killing the family support waiver,” she said.

Filibusters in the Nebraska legislature made for a wild day in the Unicameral on Thursday.

So Wednesday and Thursday, Cavanaugh spent hours speaking, delaying bill after bill.

The people noticed.

“I’ve had people reach out, embarrassed by the conduct of some senators over the last 36 hours,” State Sen. Julie Slama of Peru said.

Cavanaugh was persistent.

“There’s not a single item left on the agenda that I care about,” she said. “I don’t care.”

Some senators came to her defense, even in nontraditional ways. State Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha read lyrics from the ’80s.

“I have to tell you how I’m feeling — to make you understand. Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you,” he read.

As the day wore on, the debate got chippier.

“We listen. We just disagree,” said State Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte. “Sen. Cavanaugh: Thank you for addressing this bill. This is a filibuster.”

But this doesn’t seem to be over.

“Sen. Groene certainly dumped a lot of feelings,” said State Sen. Matt Hansen of Lincoln. “You could tell by his outdoor linebacker voice. It’s a very lot of feelings there.”

Wait until Friday...

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