Filibustering over transgender youth bill continues in Nebraska Legislature

As an Omaha state senator's filibuster drags on, the unicameral's schedule is being adjusted to take up the slack.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 4:45 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Another day of filibustering in the Nebraska Legislature.

Unlike Monday, this time we heard pushback from other senators. Neither side is prepared to blink first.

“It seems to be a difficult concept for people to grasp,” said Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha. “I’m intentionally slowing things down so that fewer bad bills get passed.”

Sen. Cavanaugh vows to filibuster every bill for the rest of the session, meaning she can stall for eight hours at a time.

Since this is the halfway point for the session, the Speaker, in order to get more accomplished, told senators to expect to work into the night beginning March 28.

“This year I’m being asked to stifle debate,” said Sen. John Arch of La Vista. “But only for bills the minority asks me to stifle. I’m being asked to put my thumb on the scale and ask other senators that they should not introduce or prioritize bills. I’m committed to the preservation of this institution - and I will not do that.”

Sen. Cavanaugh’s outrage is focused on LB574. It’s a bill banning gender-altering care for transgender youth, introduced by Omaha Sen. Kathleen Kauth.

Again on Tuesday, Sen. Cavanaugh read letters from parents with transgender children about their life experiences.

“I hate to bring the conversation back to what we’re dealing with on the floor today and interrupt Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh’s titillating conversation about a 4-year-old dictating to her parents what type of underwear they wear,” said Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings.

Meanwhile, senators are now on notice to be prepared for late nights starting at the end of the month.

You don’t go ‘I didn’t get what I want so I’m just going to shut down the session,’” said Sen. Julie Slama of Sterling. “And I”m not going to stand here why my colleagues personally attack Sen. Kauth, who is standing up for what she believes in. She’s not going to set the precedent by backing down on a bill because it’s hard to discuss.

“I have no regrets or apologies about anything I said about Sen. Kauth,” said Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha. “It is messy, irresponsible, hateful and bigoted to come in here and bring bills like that.”

There are a number of bills that still haven’t gone before a committee. Committee hearings wrap up a week from Friday and there are 45 days left in the session.

The speaker said he’d put out a night schedule this Thursday, it will be interesting to see if the debate goes until midnight.