Nebraska Legislature tries to move past LB574 filibuster
Lawmakers question State Sen. Machaela Cavanugh’s tactics to keep proposed ban on trans healthcare for minors in the forefront
LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - A day after a bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors passed the second of three rounds in the Unicameral, the Nebraska Legislature was supposed to move to other items but did not.
Lawmakers were slated to discuss LB227 on Friday; the bill to map out Department of Health and Human Services reimbursements to hospitals for nursing facilities was first on the agenda.
At the very beginning of the day’s session, she said as long as LB574 exists, she would not be working with anyone, adding that other senators “do not give a hoot about public policy.”
It’s a last-ditch effort to get the bill to ban gender-affirming care for ages 19 and younger off the books.
“You should care about the policy in front of you. You should care about the unconstitutionality of the policy in front of you. You should care about the detriment that it will have on our economy, to our workforce, to our children, to our rights, to our liberties, to our freedoms,” Cavanaugh said.
She said that the bill should never have come to the floor — that more time should have been taken to gather information about the potential impacts and to determine whether a bill like LB574 was even legal.
“You don’t just introduce a bill... That’s not how it works,” she said. “You work on things for years.”
During debate on Thursday, Cavanaugh noted that possibility, pointing out that the bill targets a protected class of people. The bill does not keep teenage girls who identify as girls from getting breast reduction surgery, she said. Nor does it keep teen boys who identify as boys from having surgery to remove excess breast tissue.
“You don’t want to ban top surgery for minors. You want to ban top surgery for transgender minors,” she said. “That is targeting a group of people because of how they identify. And that is discrimination.”
On Friday, Cavanaugh accused some of her colleagues of making their vote on LB574 about her and not the issue.
“What you should not care about it is if Senator Machaela Cavanaugh wins or loses — that should be irrelevant,” she said Friday. “That’s what you did yesterday. You voted to legislate hate because somebody, multiple people, wanted to exact revenge against me.”
For State Sen. Megan Hunt, the issue is deeply personal. She shared on the floor of the Legislature during the bill’s first round that her teenage son is transgender. She has since refused to speak to lawmakers who voted to advance the proposal.
There is one more shot to reach a compromise before the third and final vote. The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha has said she’s willing to negotiate; but Cavanaugh and some other senators have questioned whether there have been true efforts to do so.
But some in the chamber noted that Cavanaugh has emphasized that she doesn’t want to talk to anyone who voted to support the bill.
“As long as LB574 is alive, we’ll do this. As long as 574 exists, I’m not working with any of you,” she said. “I’m not going to pull motions, I’m not going to stand down. ... When we saw bills move at a normal pace, that is done. ... We saw where I would have an introducer call me, say there is an amendment that we can make that happen. Nope! Maybe? I don’t know. I’m not going to be accommodating.”
Cavanaugh said she would expand her delay tactics to include introducing nonsensical bills like banning agriculture in Nebraska — though she noted she would be willing to compromise and make an exception for soybeans.
“I look forward to horrible conversations,” she said.
As for the future of LB574, it’s still not clear when that final vote will happen.
Lawmakers wrapped Friday’s session at 3 p.m. with plans to resume debate about LB227 on Monday. Senators are expected to work late nights on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
The Associated Press and Managing Editor Kevin Westhues contributed to this report.
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