Nebraska Legislature debates proposal to convert to two-chamber operation

Some welcome the change to bring Nebraska in line with the rest of the country.
A Nebraska state senator's proposal would convert the unicameral into two chambers if passed.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 4:16 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Nebraska Unicameral is non-partisan.

At least that’s how it’s described, with no party affiliation.

Sen. Steve Erdman of Scottsbluff wants to change that by making Nebraska a two-house legislature, bringing it in line with the rest of the country.

“All the states that surround us have a better tax code, do a lot of things better than we do, and they all have a bicameral,” Erdman said.

Erdman says more representation is needed in the western portion of the state.

“If you think about it in this regard, we have five senators west of Kearney,” Erdman said. “Five total senators west of there. Two-thirds of the state has five representatives.”

Only one person appeared in-person to support Erdman’s proposal.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” said Jeanne Greisen. “I think, maybe, we can think of this body doing that.”

But about a dozen spoke in person against the idea of a two-house legislature.

A state senator has renewed a push to move Nebraska's legislature to a two-chamber operation.

“That’s what partnership does at every level of government,” said opponent Jeff Stallworth. “It destroys the ability and the willingness to compromise and work together, and focuses more on one side being right and one side being wrong.”

“I really do hear what Sen. Erdman is saying about representation in the western part of the state, there’s only five senators,” said Robert Smith. “But I think George Norris would want the representation for people and not land.”

Dr. Randy Adkins is chair of the political science department at UNO.

“It would be a big change for us,” Adkins said. “It maybe would create a situation maybe even a little more partisan than it is today.”

He believes other states might wish they were also working with a one-house legislature.

“None of them have pulled the trigger and done it yet, but I think there are some,” Adkins said. “Some probably think that would be better as an efficient measure, as a cost-saving measure and certainly from a small-state perspective. Nebraska has a lot of acres, but it doesn’t have as many people as some other states.”

The committee says there were 42 written position comments in support of Sen. Erdman’s proposal, with 38 more against.