State senator to push for full repeal of slavery in Nebraska

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Yes, slavery still technically legal — under very specific circumstances — in Nebraska. But a state senator said Tuesday he's planning to fix that.

Sen. Justin Wayne said in a release Tuesday that he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment in the upcoming session that would close the loophole in the Nebraska Constitution and completely abolish slavery here. The 106th Legislature's first session is Wednesday.

The amendment would remove language from Nebraska's constitution that technically allows slavery as punishment for a crime. “Convict leasing,” where formerly enslaved people were forced back into slavery if they committed a crime, has been legal in the state since 1875.

Article 1, Section 2 of the state constitution currently reads: “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

Wayne, chairman of the legislature's Urban Affairs Committee, said he plans to remove the language that allows for that loophole, changing the wording to: “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state.”

“Our Constitution is not a symbolic document; it is the moral and legal foundation of our state and our laws,” Wayne said. “It’s time to remove this hateful remnant of slavery from our state constitution.”

The release also included a hashtag on the topic: #AbolishSlaveryNE