Abortion dispute threatens to derail Nebraska budget bill

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A dispute over abortion and family-planning clinics is threatening to derail a Nebraska state budget bill.

Lawmakers remained at an impasse Wednesday after falling three votes short of the support needed to overcome a filibuster and force a vote on the measure.

The proposal from Gov. Pete Ricketts would prevent health clinics from getting federal family-planning money if they perform abortions or provide referrals to groups that do. Meg Mikolajczyk of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said Tuesday that 28,000 low-income women in Nebraska rely on the health care funding each year. She says the money in question is never used for abortions. Federal law already prohibits it.

Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer says he's still hopeful lawmakers will reach an agreement and pass the bill this year.

Sen. John Stinner, the Appropriations Committee chairman, says lawmakers might have to return to the Capitol for a special session if the budget measure doesn't pass. The bill in question includes critical funding for child welfare services and other programs.